SKT the Third, Experimental Trials: Trying Out Full-Color

I made a little video to showcase the evolution of my Lovers card from the SKT, laced with Bach’s Prelude in C Major. =) You can click on that YouTube logo along the bottom bar of the video to enlarge.

Experimenting with color…

Please understand that nothing has been committed to just yet. This is nothing more than an experimental trial, though I’m sharing it with you as an entry in my SKT progress diary. Your honest feedback is welcomed!

Actually, it’s very welcomed. Like the previous shitty-Emperor-card post. You all gave me really good critiques that were specific, detailed, and because of the collective you, I had something tangible to work with as I continued trying to draw a good Emperor card. (It’s still in the works. We’ll revisit Key 4 at a later time.)

I knew for the Majors I wanted to work with the king and queen color scales as my starting point. However, I didn’t want super bright, bold colors. And say I use bright yellow and that purple color together on my Magician card– like, you can imagine how gaudy the final result would be. And just wait until we get to the angry reds and bright oranges… egads!

Above you’ll see my first idea, though I discarded it about as quickly as the idea came to me. But I’m just showing you so you can see that good ideas aren’t born as good ideas. At least mine aren’t born that way. They’re more typically born as very, very bad ideas.

I speculate that one of the secrets to my productivity is I’m not afraid of putting in time and labor into very, very bad ideas.

For example, I’ll just compare myself to my hubby, James. He’ll come up with an idea in his head, intuit that it’s not the most perfect idea ever just yet, so he won’t lift a finger in execution. He’ll continue to stall, cogitate, and just sit on that intangible half-baked idea, beat himself up over not being able to come up with anything better, and then just stall and stall and not actually do anything.

Meanwhile, in all that time that he’s been sitting there pondering, I have accumulated a stack of physically-complete bad ideas.

In contrast to him, when I get stuck, I can literally spread out the exhibits of all my very bad ideas to form a picture collage, and then from that collage, gain the insights I need to get to the good idea.

Another thing I’m not afraid of: asking for help.

You know what asking for help implies? Asking for help means you first have to admit to yourself that you aren’t competent. You don’t know what you’re doing. You can’t do this by yourself. You have to admit that you’re not good enough… at least not yet.

Jamie Sawyer (click here for her website) created the Sawyer’s Path Tarot, Sawyer’s Lenormand, and Sawyer’s Animal Portals oracle. She’s an incredible tattoo artist and wood-worker. You’ve got to check out her Etsy shop (click here for her Etsy page).

I reached out to her for some art lessons.

These are some snapshots of me getting my learn on. =) Here Jamie is showing me how to do what I want to do by demonstrating on the Magus card.

I got the XP-Pen Artist 12 drawing tablet and use Krita, a free open-source digital painting program, plus Jasc Paint Shop Pro. That’s what I’m working with to digitally upgrade SKT the Third. (I get asked this repeatedly, so there you go.)

Quick review of the tablet: I don’t love it. But I didn’t want to shell out the dough for an iPad + the fancy pen thing you’d have to buy in addition to the iPad. At its budget-friendly price point, the Artist 12 is good enough for what I need to do. It’s also really easy for a total beginner to learn how to use. (I am a total beginner.)

Once I learned how to do what I wanted to do, I got to work.

And here’s where I’m at now with my coloring. So many points to talk about. To start, it’s fascinating to me how something at the fundamental level of the image changes entirely with just the addition of color. You’d think it’d be just a coat of makeup or something, but no– that full-color Key above now possesses a distinct and different disposition from the same Key in the First Edition, versus the sepia Vitruvian Edition, versus just going the route of adding one or two accent colors.

Now I’m at the stage of having to decide whether full-color is the route I want to go.

If I decide that full color is too much, then that means I’m back to square one, and still don’t know in which direction to go in.

If I decide that full color is the way to go, then we are looking at 2022 rather than 2021 for publication. The prospect of going full color also puts a big knot of dread in the pits of my stomach as I begin to assess just how much time and work that’s going to require.

I think the video of excerpted clips run at 10x speed misrepresents just how labor-intensive transforming these images into full color is.

It’s not like I hit a paint can function and all the leaves on the tree turn green. No. Each and every single leaf needs to be independently selected, colored, then shaded in for depth.

I magnified the phoenix to 500%, then used my stylus tablet pen thing to draw lighter feather lines. Then I zoomed back out to add color. Then I zoomed back in to shade in each and every single feather.

Same with the dragon scales, and if you watch the video closely enough, you’ll see in fact that I’ve rendered three different patterns. After rendering the patterns, I then have to select each scale on the dragon’s body one by one to shade in. Then it’s tweaking and more tweaking and more tweaking, adding contrast, taking it away, adjusting colors, etc. etc. etc. for 12 (twelve!!!) consecutive hours until my eyes are blurry and I can’t see straight anymore.

And that’s just the coloring. Remember, there’s still a bunch of cards I need to re-draw, and even more I need to change up. So the hours for that needs to be factored in as well.

For now, back to The Lovers card. =)

Below, in the top row left to right, you’ll see the untouched scan of the original drawing in ink, then blacking out the background for what became the First Edition SKT Lovers card, then re-drawing the background, and transitioning into sepia tones for the version from the Vitruvian Edition.

Evolution of SKT Key 6: The Lovers

Above left to right, you’ll see the Eden sketch that became the background for my revised Lovers card, the Vitruvian version with my first learning experiences with coloring, and then finally, after Jamie taught me how to color with my drawing tablet, the end result.

I’ve come a long way in two years. It’s the influence of my HGA. =)

We’re each going to come away with our own true perception of the Holy Guardian Angel, and I believe that’s the way it’s supposed to be. But as this is my blog, permit me to share with you mine.

The HGA’s being, or existence, is both hard and soft. It’s both. Both are “real.” There’s an external, independent, free-standing something in the collective consciousness that is so distinct, so individualized that it will appear as a personified spirit that you become tethered to. Spirit = consciousness to me.

And I invoke or evoke that spirit/consciousness through my mind, so in that sense, the HGA is also an aspect of my own personal consciousness. It has become a piece of my consciousness because of this work I’ve done to activate that piece within. And that can feel schizophrenic. I blink and there it is. I blink again and it’s gone, I’m back to being just me.

The Spirit Keeper’s Tarot is about cultivating stronger attunements to the many aspects of spirit, of both collective and personal consciousness because consciousness = spirit. The more you work with this deck, the more amplified your psychic abilities will be. And those psychic abilities will be transferable– long after you step away from the SKT, you’ll find yourself with more power and more fuel to do all that you seek to do.

At least therein lies my ambitions and mission statement for this deck. =)

I’ll continue to keep you posted on my progress from now until 2021/22. Have a great weekend!

15 thoughts on “SKT the Third, Experimental Trials: Trying Out Full-Color

  1. Kathy Kerr

    Hi Bell, I’m grumpy and sleepy so I’ll make this short. In regards to feedback, I love how you’ve colored the lovers card. The other solid tone washes are vexing af. Keep on having fun with it!!!!❤

    Love you, Kathy


  2. I really resonate with watching them take form as they are executed and worked.

    2 things, I hear you on the “not good enough… yet” part, though may I suggest that it’s not you who are not good enough yet, it’s the work that’s not good enough yet as it’s in process. Questions and reaching out imply interest and interest in differing perspective to see your creation more robustly from my perspective.

    I like the idea of ideas being born as very bad ideas. That’s very architectural in process, like the 1st line you draw may have squared the empty circle crucible of possibility, given it direction or a lean into the notion of gesture, though It’s still vague, without developed identity and presence…it’s the working and drawing that abduces, literally draws out the ideas from (Magician, formless) inception to (Priestess, giving form to the formless) conception to (Empress, carrying to full term) birth from the Yoniverse (that from which all emanates) to (Emperor, establishing place) standing on the ground or sitting with Presence Itself As Architecture surveying his 4-directioned domain, himself the genius loci.

    It most oftentimes feels to me like good ideas come in the form of a rough seed pushing at the glass ceiling of their husk until CRACK as they move out of the darkness, and that great ideas? Great ideas come in the form of rough geodes that take work and the right tools and just the right placement braced against a sacred cornerstone to SLICE OPEN.

    Your Emperor process feels like a geode to me. That juicy crystal Just-So interior will flip itself inside out for you with that wicked solid process you have. Be the alien and abduct your ideas from inside rather than cracking or slicing them open? … just don’t kidnap them? 🙂


  3. Love your work. I adore my first edition deck. I only say this bc you asked for honest opinions, and I feel like you mean it. I do not like the colors here. Maybe try a very limited color palette, as if it were screenprinted, or like old school marseille decks. Or, I would love this deck as a linocut print series (like if Emi Brady of Brady Tarot did a version of SKT, that would be sweet, color or b&w). Not even on the table I know, as you have never once mentioned printmaking, so probably for the bad idea pile, but if I’m dreaming. I like traditional methods of printing and how they look more than the digital look, personal preference. I’m sure whatever you do I’ll be compelled to get one! Probably you should just delete this bc even with my qualifiers I feel like a jerk


  4. Kat

    Originally I was hoping, between the initial announcement and the official publication of the first SKT, that you’d color the deck. But now that I’m sitting down and doing the ritual coloring, I like that you kept it black and white (and muted, in the Virtruvian, but I don’t own that one). And after seeing some full color ideas here, I like the commitment to monochrome even more. Not because your coloring sucks (it doesn’t!!), but because I think the ability to project personal color choices on to the deck is part of the SKT vibe for me. Of course, if you color this edition, that doesn’t change the vibe of the first edition….

    Though, a coloring option that would be powerful for me would be those single elements of a design that you periodically suggested colors for. I’m not an artist, so I have a hard time knowing exactly what you might have meant with e.g. indigo (is it blue or purple? light blue??) or chartreuse. But a black and white deck where you personally have ensured the exact coloring you want for particularly symbolic images? That would really *pop* with power and meaning for me.

    I’m just one person though!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Crossing my fingers for a full-on colored deck 🤞 That colored Lovers Card is EVERYTHING!!! Very much worth the wait for me 😉 … just curious what tablet are you using? Anyway, keep up the beautiful work, Benebell!


  6. Starlight

    I love the coloured Lovers card. It almost looks 3D!

    You’ve made a really good point about the value in having physically-complete bad ideas. Seeing what isn’t working helps to pinpoint the next step to try. Trying to create perfection from the get-go just leads to procrastination and disappointment. This is my big takeaway from your post. Thank you!


  7. Lilyena

    I like the colored version of the Lovers but i am not sure i would want a full colored deck. Maybe you could do a release in two times, black and white SKT3, and colored SKT3 later, like MM Meleen did for Tabula Mundi? Keep up the good work, i am doing the ritual coloring now and i honestly find coloring super difficult. I am never satisfied with the result, so i can imagine how you feel. BUT i m sure you will find a way that works. And I love Jamie, her artwork is so impressive.


    1. Susan

      There is nothing that expresses intuitive intellect better than creating or noticing a balanced color scheme. Heck, most of our consumer goods use this strategy and its the difference in product staying on the shelf and product finding its way into your home.

      I help people recognize their intuitIve sense of basic algebra when we are working on their new or remodeled home. Because our brains are constantly taking in and processing data, I believe, our brains are sorting all the colors we see in our surroundings—conscious or unconscious—and trying to balance the wavelength of colors. We are constantly trying to balance the equation whether we want to or not.

      When in nature, most people find their surroundings to be relaxing because the colors in nature mostly reflect a balanced wavelength equation. In our constructed surroundings, we rely on designers to create the same balanced equation when they select building products. There are some people who are just naturally good at choosing colors, some who are good because of their formal training, and some who just don’t care or find it frustrating to sit in a space and try to figure out why they are on edge (like a restaurant with a bad color scheme).

      I think you have a good eye for color but if you find that you are struggling with color choices, I suggest using the simple color wheel to select colors for each card according to the harmonious color schemes: complementary, split complementary, triad, tetrad, or monochromatic or analogous, which you’ve already mastered.

      There is no magic lost when looking at any color as part of an equation. The magic is putting the colors together so they can sing in harmony.

      Keep up the good work.


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  9. Leslie

    I love everything about the full color card – the palette you’ve chosen is exquisite. I did not think I could love anything more than the gorgeous sepia tones in SKTII, but the colorful one just sings to me. That said I will undoubtedly adore whatever you chose to do next. Such beautiful work!


  10. Kate

    I love the intention for a 3rd, full color edition. The muted colors will be perfect. I’ve always wanted to buy SKT, but the 1st B/W edition made me almost feel dizzy with the intricate detail, the very many varied textures within each image. Imagine the 16th–18th century colored alchemical art images that you posted in another blog being in stark black & white–confusion and overload for the eyes and mind!
    Your 2nd edition was better, clearer, easier to see the details. But, something felt not quite right–maybe it was the faces of the people, a bit cartoonish/childish compared the all the other details in the images that you rendered so skillfully.
    Maybe for this color edition, simplify the amount of intricate textures and patterns, or keep them, as that style is like the alchemical art you admire.
    It will be worth the wait, take your time–it will be magnificent!
    (the Emperor–maybe tone down the glossy on the beard? Make a long straggly beard?)


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