Size of original art?


I've started my own deck, and I'm not quite sure yet whether they will be digital or traditional media in their final form. I have a bunch of sketches AND digital files already - and between scanning things to recombine and printing things to trace and color by hand, the images are not quite either traditional OR digital.

I am a couple years at least from completing a deck, but I would like to know from the beginning what sizes publishers are comfortable working with. The guidelines they publish are not that clear, especially on pixel resolution of digital files.

Anyone have any experience with this issue?



I think the publishers prefer something not too big for ease in scanning, if its non-digital media, something around 3 times the size it will be shrunk down to. For digital I am sure whatever is the biggest size you can save them in and you can always reduce later. I wouldn't go any less than 300 dpi and make sure to save in a good format like EPS, PDF or PSD etc., not jpeg.

Speaking only for myself, I have done 50 or so images, traditional media, at 7" x 11.5". It's good in that it will be easy to scan, doesn't take much space for that many paintings and are easy to ship, move, etc., but if I could do it all over again I would probably work much bigger. Sometimes its hard to get good detail and to do what I want when the little person I am painting is no bigger than a barbie doll. They also just don't have the impact of a decent sized painting, and I have always been partial to big canvases.

I Think just about any size is eventually doable as long as it is good quality and the size is consistent with all the cards. I have heard of cards done card size and ones done on huge canvases and they are all done and published. So it's really up to you:)



Thanks Marie.

You reminded me about something else I was wondering - Where is the cut off point for fine details on a larger original, if it is going to wind up printed on a card? I'm thinking especially of details in facial expressions - I use sort of a pencils/inks/colors style (e.g. the Coleman-Smith and BOTA decks, and most contemporary comics), and the figure outlines can only be reduced to a certin point before they get lost by reducing size. Do you know if there are any rules of thumb for what gets lost and what doesnt when the size is reduced? Is 600 dpi better than 300 ?

Maybe I'm being too technical. I love the way my images are turning out so far, but I wouldnt want to go to get them published 5 years from now and find out I was doing it wrong all along...


I have no idea about any rules of thumb. What I usually do is scan in my sketches and then reduce them to card size to see how they look and I get a good idea from that.

600 dpi is better, but maybe it's overkill?? I don't know how much of a difference it makes in print quality. I looked around a bit and US Games says they want them in an EPS or TIFF format but doesnt specify dpi and Llewellyn wants 300 dpi, CMYK in Tiff or EPS also. So that's probably close to what most publishers will want.

:) Marie



Thanks for all the advice, I was going to ask if you had any cards online, then I figured out how to look it up for myself.

I had just seen your deck for the first time earlier this week, it's spectacular work. You are truly a gifted artist, and I am sure I will be spending a lot of time enjoying your tarot images in the future.

Thank you so much again for taking time to share your insights.


Do you have any of yours online?



not yet... I just started the project. I have lots of preliminary sketches (both hand drawn and digital comps) for the Fool and The Magician. I will probably have something worth sharing within the next few days, if you're interested. I would really value your opinion, if you wanted to take a look at the prelim stuff.


yes, I'd love to.


OK, I'll try to post something tomorrow.


Remember to keep the proportions for the height & width correct, so when they reduce it down the cards will be the proper size! VERY important.

Reducing by a bit will tighten up the art, but too far & like you said, you loose detail.

I saw origionals of the Ancestral Path tarot, she worked larger than the 8 1/2 x 11" size since they were all oil paintings. I saw a hand done deck that used regular blank typing paper that was reduced down & printed, which turned out pretty good.