Deck in progress: Brass & Steam (steampunk)


Hello! I posted on this forum a few years ago asking questions about work-for-hire contracts for commissioning tarot art--the upshot being that I've been working with a few artists since then, and I'm ready to show off the progress made so far!

The idea behind the Brass & Steam deck is an alternative 19th century world where Nikola Tesla (our Magician) wasn't stopped by Edison (our Devil) and ill fortune, but instead started a technological revolution that spanned the world. In short, steampunk went global. :) In fact, should I ever get that far, each suit of the minor arcana is meant to examine how steampunk would have looked in a variety of locales: The New World (Wands), The Old Country (Swords), The Orient (Cups), and the Dark Continent (Pentacles).

Anyway, this is definitely a labor of love--I tried to take each of the cards I've worked on so far, and reduce them to first principles (looking at Rider-Waite, Thoth, and books like "Jung and Tarot" for guidance, as well as comparing cards across my personal collection). I wouldn't say my deck is rich in symbolism, but I also wouldn't call it a purely art deck--but feel free to make your own decisions.

All the cards so far are in this album on the project's FB page:

You can also see some of the cards in their proper proportions here (an early lesson: figure out the height/width of the cards you want to make so you can tell your artists what size virtual canvas to work on :p):

Feedback welcome. More to come!

Tarot dance

....You know I have never been into the whole Steampunk Theme....

.............I just did not speak to me....but this deck, WOW!

.... I would absolutely get one, I can't wait for you to finish....

..........Great, great work, awesome...

...............thanks for sharing


This looks awesome! Evocative and colorful and richly detailed . . . plus, I love the steampunk theme :).


Definitely looks to be a winner! How will you choose between the different card versions? Maybe make 2 or 3 whole decks!


Wow, looking great so far. Love the Queen of the Orient, what a stunning, powerful card

Fly My Pretty

I love what you have so far, I can't wait to see the finished product :)

Briar Rose

You can also see some of the cards in their proper proportions here (an early lesson: figure out the height/width of the cards you want to make so you can tell your artists what size virtual canvas to work on :p):


I love the cards. I love and understand the steampunk art. Good job.

But I am unsure what, "so you can tell your artists what virtual canvas to work on" refers to? I am guessing this is a computer generated deck? Is there a different phase for that- 'computer generated?' Are you using more than one artist?


I admit, my first reaction was "Another Steampunk Deck?" but I clicekd and I very much enjoyed the cards you have up so far. I do have a question though; you mentioned that while you liked the original Magician you would choose something else for the deck. Is the something else the Nicola Tesla version of the card? The original is so much more interesting and evocative.


Thanks for the feedback, all--nice to see I'm working on something other people can enjoy. ;) Onto your questions!

rachelcat: usually when I get a card, I know right away if it's "the one"--there have been a few times though when I just haven't been happy with the final product. The few times it's happened so far, I've ended up going back to my original artist and he's given me a version I love. ;) Ideally I won't have multiple versions of very many cards--otherwise, this thing will take forever to finish, heh.

Briar Rose: I wouldn't call it computer-generated--more like a digital painting (although you'd have to ask the specific artists for their exact techniques). All I meant by my comment was that originally, I gave what turned out to be the wrong dimensions to my artists, so the first few pieces wouldn't look good when formatted for the long, narrow shape of a tarot card. Fortunately I figured that out before I got too far into the project, and my artist was able to re-do the incorrect pieces. D'oh!

Shade: the great thing about a steampunk tarot deck is that there are so many different ways you could do it--the other decks I've seen in progress don't look a thing like mine, thankfully! As for your question: I've commissioned 2 Magician cards, both of which feature Nikola Tesla (as envisioned by 2 different artists). The "final" version will be the one done by Alex Boca, with all the background detail and the darker colors, as opposed to the first one, which had a more plain violet background. Which is the one you preferred?


I think I might have misunderstood - I love the version of the card where he is holding a blue-green wand and has a laser gun and a ship on his desk. From your text I thought it was no longer being considered but if I'm reading correctly this time this will be the version you use?

I think - as we learned from fairy decks, vampire, decks, Celtic decks - there is always room for more and a chance for someone else to explore the topic in a new way. There is no reason that an existing mass-produced Steampunk decks means others cannot be added to the mix.