My Drawing Process

In this post I thought I’d talk a little about my drawing process with the tarot cards, before showing you the next 4 cards… hope you enjoy :)

First I start with the Idea

The idea is an important step, as once the image has formed in my head, the drawing is sort of partly done, if that makes sense? My inspiration tends to come from:

  1. The loose (broad) symbolic meaning of the card I am about to draw
  2. The images I get in my head when thinking of the above … :)
  3. The underlying symbolic meaning of the suit (cups, swords, pentacles, swords)

Next – I do a light pencil sketch:

Now for the inking:

I use black pens (as you can see in the photo, these were inked before I got my new pens – the coffee however, is still part of the process ;) ), ranging from 0.1 – 0.7 mm line width.

Once the drawings are completed, I erase any pencil marks and then scan at 600dpi. Once scanned, the digital painting preparation stages roughly follow the steps below:

  • I save the original scan (useful to avoid having to rescan to return to the original version).
  • In Photoshop I retouch any lines that need fixing and remove all white in the background – This becomes the transparent background with black lines file (saved as a png).
  • Finally, I save the working file as a PSD – and now I’m ready to I add my painting layers. It may seem like a lot of files, but it means having the original scan and initial line-work layer intact (if I stuff up and have to go back).


I create my painting layers below the line-work (this is why I remove the white in step 2 above). I use a lot of different brushes (have even made quite a few of my own brushes along the way), and create separate layers for detailed areas, background and so on – I can end up with anything from 5 – 20 layers by the time the illustration is finished. The wand tool and also locking transparency on layers, come in handy for isolating the area I am painting (a little like masking when using traditional painting mediums).

Here is the painted (still a work in progress) version of Four of Cups:

Brief meaning of the number 4 cards in the minor arcana:

  • IV Cups – help and opportunities come from unexpected source, when one is at ease.
  • IV Rods – Stable home foundations allows time for joyous festivities and new beginnings.
  • IV Pentacles – Overdeveloped interest material gain can limit other interests.
  • IV Swords – Retreat from the outside world to rejuvenate emotional and physical self.
Work in progress on Number 4 cards – 4 suits

Thank you for visiting and take care.

Annette :)

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Diane

    Thank you for all of that – it was very interesting, and puts a whole new perspective on the finished work. Great images.

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