Revisiting the SKT Major Arcana

“Before” pics — first draft of the coloring/revision process from 2020

After completing the first draft of coloring in the SKT, my technique improved to such a point where the First Septenary, i.e., the very first cards I started the coloring on, paled in comparison.

Literally. As in, like, I didn’t have enough color. I wasn’t going to redo all of the Majors. But the First Septenary (Keys 1 through 7), definitely.

Above, the top row shows the Magician, Priestess, Empress, and Emperor cards I first colored in at the onset of this third edition undertaking. This was around spring of 2020.

The bottom row shows the same four cards as I’ve re-done them just now, about half a year later, after completing the first draft of coloring for all 78 cards (well, 80 in my deck).

My Book of Maps companion guidebook is also getting a little out of control. On average, just for the card description, card meaning, and artist notes, is around 6 pages per card. For some of the cards, it’s been up to 15 pages typed, just rambling about the culture, theology, and history at the foundation of the illustration.

But I’m very proud of this guidebook. Hm, not that I’m saying I wasn’t proud of my previous edition guidebooks. The biggest difference between the previous editions and this one is a lot of the text in the earlier editions were written by me in a haze, more along the lines of channeling. I didn’t do that for the third edition guidebook.

This guidebook feels a little like an AP World History or your old high school social studies textbook. Haha, no but seriously. It does.

I really liked the first draft versions of The Lovers and The Chariot (top row). They feel… occult-y, for lack of a more sophisticated descriptive. The bottom row feels like I’ve exotericized (is that a word?) the esoteric.

Comparing the previous overview of the Majors to the above most updated overview, you can definitely see how I’ve evened out the art style. (And then you can see kind of the dip into inconsistency when we get to The Demon and The Tower…) Before, the earlier cards were just too wildly different from the latter cards.

I may want to do more detailed world-building for the background of the Wheel of Life card, and I want to rethink The Demon and The Tower. Oh wait, and maybe tweak that Warrior (The Sun) card. After that, sprucing up the court cards. =)

You know how when you get a new tarot deck, the first thing you do (okay, well, the first thing I do…) is you start from the very first card and flip through them in the order they come, one by one? And then seven cards in, give or take, you have pretty much solidified your first impression of the deck, for better or for worse?

I’m feeling pretty good about this most recent revision round for the first seven Keys. On the positive side, if I’m attempting objectivity, my first impression would be, wow, the colors– reading with this deck feels like an experience. On the negative side, I wonder if I’ve taken the edge off the “occult” Old World-y alchemical style and theme that was the SKT’s signature. I mean, I shouldn’t even say “I wonder.” I know. But then I wonder if maybe that’s the whole point of The Revelation.

I should put out the warning that I’m probably behind schedule now.

That’s due in no small part to me revising half the cards in the deck but it’s also due to the Lunar New Year. Either the production ball gets rolling before Lunar New Year, or it doesn’t budge until after Lunar New Year, with that holiday taking up basically a month’s time. Since I’d be rushing myself and that will risk me cutting corners if I try to get in before the Lunar Near Year, I’m just gonna ride it out and not even start production until the month after. That gives me even more time to focus on the art. =)

14 thoughts on “Revisiting the SKT Major Arcana

      1. stankbeest

        And you do it so well too!
        Looks like the changes will be worth the delay. And here I thought the first versions couldn’t be much better…


  1. Pingback: Revisiting the SKT Major Arcana – Indie News

  2. Emme

    I can’t get another SKT. I mean, the Vitruvian is “my deck” and I can’t possibly work with another version, right? But how can one not be completely mesmerized by these new images?! Ugh! Why do you do this to me, Benebell? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love the changes, although I’m not gonna lie, I’ll miss the revision 1 emperor. There was just something wonderfully primal about the beard and the mask. I really like the changes to the Priestess, particularly the addition of the hoshen.


  4. Marcin

    I like reading about tarot on benebellwen. Recently I found something like this: Unlock the answers you are looking for with Divine guidance from the Universe in the free AstroTarot Reading From Fortune Alexander. I think that some people may find it useful


  5. Shellie

    I have been waiting with anticipation for this deck.
    Don’t want to miss out.
    How will you let us know when they are available?
    Can we preorder?


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