As I pointed out in my original blog post about the creation of my Neon Kruppa Tarot, my new card deck is not intended as a tool of divination or foretelling at all. I do not care particularly about the orthodox interpretation of Tarot cards - I basically just enjoy the idea of canonical pictures reflecting my inward-looking, personal mysticism.
That being said, many of my cards - particularly the Major Arcana trump cards - contain topical references and play with the historically most proliferated, iconic visuals of the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot cards, illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith.
One example is the Hierophant Tarot card: Originally, it displays a powerful clergyman, presumably the pope or a patriarch, wearing a pompous crown and serving wisdom from his elevated throne on top of a pedestal. Of course, there is more to be said about the meaning of this card, but for me there is already enough reason to give it a complete overhaul. With my artistic re-interpretation, I wanted to display a matriarch - you'll probably agree with me that, sadly, there aren't many historic references for this archetype, so I feel it is a good place to apply my imagination and artistic dedication.
I started with a reference photo which I acquired and licensed from a creative agency, Grafit Studio in Yerevan, Armenia. The particular picture I used stems from a reference pack simply called "Female Reference Poses" which can be found on pages like Gumroad or Artstation when searching for the studio and their offerings. I picked this photo for the defiant, unfazed stance and the physical gravitas of the model.
1) First, I digitally traced the outlines of the reference pose using KRITA. This step helps me to get the proportions right and serves as a guide for my pencil drawing.
2) I print the traced outlines directly on my drawing paper - but I only print them at reduced opacity, so I can draw directly on top and the printed lines will vanish. Here is my final pencil drawing, for which I employed 4B pencil on thick, BIOTOP 3 printer paper.
3) After scanning the drawing, I imported it in KRITA again and added a gray background layer. I also used the digital equivalent of black ink to give the drawing stronger contours.
4) One of the features of KRITA I enjoy most is the ability to map grayscale layers to an arbitrary color gradient - I used this feature to define a basic color palette for my Major Arcana cards and the four suits of the Minor Arcana, which all contain similar gray values before the color map is applied.
5) I added a darker skin tone using a broad brush in KRITA.
6) Turquoise is applied as a contrast colour here. With the Major Arcana, I emphasize dark (!) areas with this colourful accent, creating the impression of an otherworldly glow.
7) The hair and bathing suit are also highlighted with bright turquoise to make this portrait radiant. The colour draws focus to the intricate pattern of the fabric and the structure of the organic crown.
8) Here we go! In the final editing, I adjusted brightness, contrast and saturation for printing. I decided to crop the pose a bit to evoke the impression of really meeting this matriarch in person.
How do you like my Hierophant Tarot card? Is there anything else you would like to know? All my card descriptions can be found in my blog and you can pre-order my cards if you would like to own this deck.