These twelve images are sourced from an 1870 publication, Bilder-Atlas – Ikonographische Encyklopädie, a multi-volume compendium of reference books in German. The images are formatted to print at 5.0” x 7.0”, but the resolution isn’t the sharpest. Nonetheless, they still printed okay.
After you unzip the file, you’ll see four folders for four different versions of the twelve images. I’ve included the originals, a version where I converted the images to a warmer sepia tone, then two versions with borders for printing.
I’m sharing the files here for those who are fascinated by these sorts of finds.
If you want about 3 mm of patterned border to show and you’re using makeplayingcards.com to print your deck, then go with the 6 mm margin files.
But since then there have been new developments in this subject area so I thought I might revisit the topic.
Some Personal Dabblings with AI Art
Above to the left is a sketch I did by hand, first in pencil, then outlined in ink. I started with the following prompt, text I typed out myself and stared at for a good five minutes before putting pencil to paper: Solitude. Contemplating. Maiden in a moment of self-questioning.
I copied some text written by Hildegard of Binden on the transcendental experience of God, to fill the blank space. What you see took me two hours. Uh, tbh, probably longer than two hours. I lose track of time when I’m doodling. (The barely-there blue grid lines was added digitally, because that’s just something I like to do when I share my doodles to the public.)
What you see to the above right was produced via NightCafe, an AI art generator, with the same exact text as the prompt: Solitude. Contemplating. Maiden in a moment of self-questioning. I selected the art style “Charcoal” to see how close to a pen and ink sketch it could go. The illustration to the right took the program two minutes.
I’m fascinated by how similar the interpretations were, between me, a human, and AI tapping in to collective knowledge. In fact, in the past I’ve drawn illustrations in charcoal very similar to what the AI produced!
The pose, the facial expression, the way the hair falls, the vulnerability– if I rummage through my old art portfolio from high school, I can excavate a charcoal or pastel drawing that looks more or less the same with that!
Does AI Art Lack Soul?
I explored the question “does AI art lack soul” here in an earlier rumination on the subject. In that blog post, I talked about how this advent of AI generated art has shifted my former paradigm on the mind-soul relation.
This declaration you’ll hear oft repeated — AI art lacks soul; AI lacks soul — is one I’m most apprehensive about. Perhaps we can say we don’t understand the soul of AI, but to declare that AI art lacks soul… I dunno. It doesn’t sit right with me.
I’m not convinced that these works “lack soul.” If I’m getting all psychic and woo, I might say the impression of the soul that’s present feels different from a human sapient soul, just like an animal’s sentient soul or a tree’s soul feels different. You hear people critique the evident style or aesthetic consistent in AI generated art, but just because you don’t love an artist’s style or technical approach doesn’t mean that artist suddenly lacks soul.
So while I have many conflicting thoughts about AI art, the accusation that it lacks soul isn’t one of them. If anything, I wonder if the full body of AI generated art is mirroring back something deep within us collectively, for us to see.
A Rising Popularity of AI Generated Art Decks
Oh, and to illustrate what the community has been buzzing about with regard to AI-generated tarot decks (or in collaboration with AI) coming on to the market, I’ll feature several throughout this commentary.
What we call the “Petit Etteilla” refers to a class of 32-card piquet decks for cartomancy based on Etteilla’s 1770 text, which used the courts (Kings, Queens, Jacks), Aces, Tens, Nines, Eights, and Sevens from a playing card deck. To the 32-card pack, Etteilla added a 33rd card called “Etteilla” to designate the querent. And thus he proposed that the original Egyptian tarot pack consisted of 33 cards.
UPDATE: I referred to this deck as a “Petit Etteilla” because that’s how the British Museum referred to it. However, one of our community’s preeminent tarot historians, with a particularly vast amount of knowledge on the Etteilla, John Choma, came back with some clarifications.
This is not a Petit Etteilla deck, but an unrelated deck called the “Livre du Destin” (or Book of Fate), created some time in the mid-1800s. You can check out a few historic examples (thank you, John, for the links!): here (M. Violet, éditeur), here (Le Livre du destin), and here. These images are also notably similar to other 19th-century oracle decks like the 53-card Sibylle des Salons and the 36-card Petit Cartomancien.
AI art won’t replace fine art (but may impact illustration)
What artists are saying
IP implications of AI art
Valuing AI generated art
More of my thoughts
I’ve been maybe a little bit obsessed with AI generated art apps, though not just because of the pretty art. Rather, my fascination comes from the way such AI generated art shifts my former paradigm on the mind-soul relation. Does an AI really lack soul? That’s the question I’ve been kicking around in my head.
Deck Delivery Dates: Shipping Begins October 7, 2021
Printing and production completed on July 21, 2021. You might recall from an earlier update, the projected completion date I had gotten from the factory was July 19 at the latest. So we are running behind schedule.
The decks then had to go through one final quality assurance check at the factory before it’s packaged and prepared for overseas shipping. The shipping time is between 45 and 50 days.
We’ve been assured by our factory that the decks are shipping out this week, but as of this precise moment that I’m typing, it has not been shipped out yet. Just to keep the numbers and projection on the conservative side, let’s assume the factory isn’t ready to ship until Friday, which means it actually ships next Monday, August 3. Sigh. Okay.
We’ve been told shipping by sea takes 45 to 50 days. If it arrives in port on the 45th day, it’ll be on US soil on September 16. If it’s the 50 day mark, then that’s September 21.
It then has to go through US customs. The last time we went through US customs for a large shipment was pre-pandemic, and it took about 7 to 10 days. I heard from other business owners who import goods that right now it’s closer to 14 days.
So let’s just assume my shipment arrives on September 21 and takes 14 days to go through US customs. We’re now looking at actual receipt of the decks around October 5.
SKT Revelation Production Status Update: Short Version
We’ve sent the down payment to our printing company and commenced the production process, but–
First we’re doing a test print for the final confirmation of color, the packaging, and also to see how the coloring looks with the selected cardstock and finish, which we estimate to take about 2 weeks to complete, and–
After hundreds of drafts and flip flopping between different options, I’ve finally selected a card back design.
SKT Revelation Production Status Update: Long Rambling Version
Let’s talk about what a Journey (*dies*) creating the card back design for this third edition deck was!
Eeks. RGB to CMYK conversion was not the issue. In my previous post on this matter, I showed you the digital files I converted from the RGB to CMYK. This is now the test print of what the conversion to CMYK looks like.
Fun tip: since I’m ordering this deck to check color, I tried to optimize my resources and time by printing lots of different versions for the card back options I was entertaining. This way in one fell swoop, I can determine which design, which color saturation, values, brightness, etc. to go with.
In the above photo, you can see how I printed out many variations of that double vajra bluish card back design, at different color saturation and brightness levels to see which one I would like best.