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Vintage-style Marseille deck, looking for feedback (hoping to kickstart this summer)

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spiralingcadaver  spiralingcadaver is offline
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Vintage-style Marseille deck, looking for feedback (hoping to kickstart this summer)


Drafts
(collected here for easy reference)
Variant on the box art
Swords suit: 1st draft, current draft
Cups suit: current draft
Wands suit: current draft
Coins Suitcurrent draft
Card backs
Majors/Trumps: fool + 1st half, 2nd half

note: swords and cups have since had their stains removed, and the 2 of coins' text is getting replaced.

The Kickstarter is live!
Thanks to everyone who gave feedback!


Intro
So, on recommendation from a user on another forum, I'm posting my deck here, to get some advice... I'm (hopefully obviously) seriously invested/committed to this, but am not very knowledgeable outside of aesthetics and legibility/functionality. I'm still a bit nervous about responses since I don't have a deep knowledge set, but I'm sticking my neck out...

While this is repeated below, I'm also going to preface the post with the same explanation: This deck is largely about trying to maintain the sensibility of traditional Marseille decks, while altering them for legibility/visual openness, and my own illustration style.

I'm looking for feedback,which is why I came to this site- the short version (again, repeated in more detail below) is that I'd like to be alerted to any decisions I've made which are categorically inaccurate (as opposed to, for instance, missing interpretations). If you want to leave feedback, I'd greatly appreciate it (either here, or on my blog.

Thanks for looking!

The premise
The title pages to chapters of a graphic novel I've been illustrating are tarot cards. I did some very basic research when initially illustrating these, but, as I did more, I became more invested in the process, and refined my vision of the cards.

At a certain point, I realized I wanted to actually create a whole tarot deck, and put more research into the aesthetics of the cards.

Again, I tried to keep the sensibility of the original designs, while modernizing some of the graphics for consistency and legibility.




Design
Other than the illustration style itself, some of the notable design choices I made:
-The numbered cards (1-10) have their numbers marked in the corners, per regular playing cards, for ease scanning. Numerals have been replaced with the more common variants (for instance, 9 is "IX" instead of "VIIII").

-All shading is from the upper-left corner, making it easier to quickly determine orientation

-Each of the basic numbered cards' bottom number is gold, to make the orientation doubly clear

-The swords and wands (clubs, etc.) were based on the least similar historical variations I could find within the aesthetic sense: Instead of the more traditional flared ends on both, the wands have rounded tips while the swords are partially unsheathed.

-The suits have more heavily consistent colors, with the swords & wands emphasizing blue, and the cups & coins emphasizing red, both in the dominant colors and in the shading hue. These match the respective regular suits of spades & clubs (blue instead of black) and hearts & diamonds.

-The face cards in each suit feature matching details (such as the capes in the above set) to repeat visual notes without limiting palate.

-A number of proportions on the illustrated cards and ornamentations on the numbered cards have been altered remove some of the more distracting proportion issues and open up the graphic space on some of the number cards, while attempting to remain faithful to the style and content of the originals.



Feedback
So, these are a draft that I consider quite close to done, and I'll be putting up the other suits as they're completed, but I'm looking for feedback. (Note: these include bleed for printing, so the margins will be smaller once printed)

I recognize that there are details I may have missed or ignored, regarding some of the more specific or historical connotations. I'm okay with this (and hope you are, too): The focus on this deck is aesthetics and legibility. However, details are important for functionality (as a factor of being able to read the cards' meanings), too, so, my first feedback question (if you happen to know your tarot):

-Are there details I've gotten wrong that are absolutely essential to the cards? ex: Did I misinterpret water as ground or elide some detail all iterations contain? (This is opposed to details I missed, that aid in certain interpretations or are in many versions.) I'm interested in details from historical and common/established symbolic perspectives.

Also, the other aspect of functionality yields another feedback request:

-Are there ways I could improve legibility? Are there choices I've made which make cards harder to read?

Since there seem to be a number of threads about it on the forum, I'd also appreciate any tips people have on publishing tarot decks. I'm currently looking at self-publishing through kickstarter, but open to other suggestions.

More generally, I'd gladly welcome constructive criticism or advice on content or style, though obviously it's a bit late to change any major stylistic elements.

Thanks again for reading this!


PS. I haven't figured out how to embed an image- the standard [img] tag isn't working- if anyone knows how, please let me know)
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Debra  Debra is offline
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Hi spiraling,

I believe you'll have to link your images to a hosting site (like photobucket) if you're not a paid member of the forum. I saw them on another tarot site and I'm a fan. You've obviously put a great deal of thought into the deck, and I like your style very much.
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These are beautiful. Saw the Swords and loved them. Do keep at it and make it happen so that we can have it!
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They are beautiful! I look forward to being able to buy a set
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spiralingcadaver  spiralingcadaver is offline
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Thanks, everyone!

I'm making pretty good progress on these, I've finished all of the preliminary work and am on to the middle phase of the bulk of the coloring/tuning everything as I get more familiar with the cards' representation and structure, thinking I'll have the next suit and some revisions of the first around friday/saturday.

Debra, thanks, I tried a lot of stuff and just figured out that it appears regular members are prohibited from embedding images outside of the "spreads" subforum . (I tried a basic image over there in a test thread and it worked fine the first time.) I guess I'll use just the basic links and consolidate them in the first post in the thread unless I decided to go for the added flexibility/options...
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spiralingcadaver  spiralingcadaver is offline
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I've done quite a few more cards, and fine-tuned the ones I've completed further.

The biggest addition you'll notice is the addition of trim color. Having spent a while studying my tarot deck, I realized how important it was to be able to quickly scan suits. (more design notes and images here

I've added the 2nd draft of the Swords, and the current Cups in the first post, as well.

Again, if you've got any constructive criticism, I'd appreciate it.
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They do look very much like the historical ones. Good job.
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spiralingcadaver  spiralingcadaver is offline
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Thanks! I studied a lot of versions of the deck to stay faithful to the sensibility despite updating it somewhat.
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I like your style very much. I have a couple of thoughts.

I'm a bit disturbed by the quarter circles surrounding the card numbers. They're butting up against stuff inside and squished by the trim. What happens when you take the quarter circle frame out and leave just the numbers?

Also, I've seen a lot of decks that are made to look old by use of stained backgrounds. I'd love to see you embrace the newness of your images--not with stark white, but I wonder what your cards would look like on clean, grayed or cream (but not mottled) background paper?
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spiralingcadaver  spiralingcadaver is offline
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Hi, thanks for the thoughts-

The circles around the numbers were partially to clearly indicate orientation for those who wanted that as a marker (the bottom circles are colored differently) since the only other indication on rotationally symmetrical cards is directional lighting, which is in my opinion too subtle.

I'll try experimenting with that a bit.

On the backgrounds, the distressing on the paper was partially to recall uneven card quality so I'd like to keep that, but I can see removing the stains, since they are clearly artificial. They were in there largely to add visual variation, but are also a product of an earlier version of the cards where there was less detail in the shading, so that might not be relevant any more.


A question for anyone interested: I'm leaning towards getting the most natural looking coating I can find (not sure what that will be yet, having not received samples), as a compromise between aesthetics and durability. Is this a deal-breaker for anyone and/or do you have other suggestions?
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