Wednesday, June 25, 2014

78 Tarot - 10 of coins finished!

And the card is finished!

10coinstarot meredithdillman

(To see my work in progress read the previous posts on this card - sketches and card process 2)

About the Deck:

78 Tarot is an exciting deck created by 78 different artists, each made in their own style. I have painted the "10 of Coins" card you see here. Other artists contributing include Jasmine Becket-Griffith, Larry Elmore, Natalia Pierandrei, Delphine Griffin, Tanya Bond, Tiffany Toland-Scott, Carrie Hawks, Jessica Douglas, and many more!

Help us print the 78 Tarot deck by backing and sharing the 78 Tarot Kickstarter page!


About my 10 of Coins card:

Here and some questions provided by 78 Tarot for more further information on my cardHow did you decide to use the symbolism you have?
Family inheritance, wealth and material abundance are meanings for this card. I wanted to coin to be a repeated motif that could also work as a family symbol or coat of arms. As a gold colored coin it is also a symbol of wealth by itself. The family has a solid stone home with decorative work and statues of ancestors from centuries earlier. Abundance is also reflected in their rich clothing.

How did you choose what to use to represent the pentacles (coins)?

Since the Pentacles is the earth suit I knew I wanted to use a lot of green and leaves in the background. 10 of coins is all about strong foundations, and security. I chose ivy leaves because I associate them with old buildings. It takes time for vines to grow over a wall, while the wall needs to be solid stone to stand up to the roots.

How did you go about choosing the story you would tell?

I looked at several versions of the card that had been published. I didn't really really like any of them. I read as many descriptions of the meaning as I could and wrote down the main points that seemed important to me. Then I tried to think of what sort of scene could bring those together and still be something I enjoyed to paint. The mother passing her necklace to her daughter and the motif reflected in the architecture and her dress bring together the ideas of family, inherited wealth, tradition, and leaving behind something that lasts.

Why the maternal scene?

I didn't really relate to the old man's point of view in the Rider Waite card, but I still wanted a way to show generations of a family.

How long did the process take you?

I worked for about a month on it. It took a couple weeks to work out an idea from brainstorming and sketches to the final drawing.

78 Tarot Project - 10 of Coins Progress 2

78 Tarot is a group of 78 artists completing a tarot deck. Each artist has created one card in their own style. You can follow our deck at the 78 Tarot website or facebook page.

We’ve also just launched the 78 Tarot kickstarter funding page! Please take a look help us print this exciting deck!

Read the previous entry on this painting 78 Tarot project - 10 of Coins SketchesColor Sketch

Once I have the basic layout of the entire picture drawn I did a second color sketch. I wanted to base the top section of the art on Art and Crafts period stained glass designs with muted green and gold. For the coins, instead of literal Pentacles I drew them as ivy leaves. The ivy motif will be repeated all over the painting. At this point while I'm figuring out the coloring of the background I get a better idea of how to will draw the floor and the stone wall, as well as a walled city the distance.

Mdillman10coins colorskFinal Drawing

To make the final pencil drawing I used my light box to draw over sketches of the various elements on separate sheets in order to adjust the placement. In the final pencil drawing I made the right statue a man facing forward to break up the symmetry and drew the stones in the floor in a leaf or petal shape.

10ofcupsdrawing meredithdillman

Next I ink outlines on some of the main figures and archway and begin painting. After many days working...


almost done!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Lilac Fairy preview

This week I’ve been working on drawing for a lilac fairy fairy painting. I started the idea well before the lilacs were blooming and finally this week they are.
My tiny dip pen used to outline the drawing.

Friday, March 28, 2014

78 Tarot project - 10 of Coins Sketches

78 Tarot is a group of 78 artists completing a tarot deck. Each artist will do one card in their own style. You can follow our progress at the 78 Tarot website or facebook page.


10 of Coins

10 of Coins is about family, inheritance, tradition, material abundance, a lasting foundation, security and comfort.

When I was asked to join the project there were not many card choices left. I thought I would do one of the Coin or Pentacle cards since the Earth-based suit interested me. I quickly glanced at my book and chose between 9 and 10. Once I started researching the card and meaning I found it was not very appealing to me as it was usually depicted in the Rider-Waite Tarot, and had second thoughts about choosing that card. I disliked the jumbled mix of narrative and scene and coins strewn over the picture. The scene was hard to read and crowded.

Thumbnail Sketches

I knew I wanted to simplify it by including fewer figures and making the coin symbols part of the scene itself. My first idea was to show a parent and child instead of a large family. The coin was to be a repeating symbol or coat of arms that could be used in the background to tie into the inherited wealth and tradition idea. The mother is passing a necklace to her daughter that she received from her mother.

In the second sketch I added a statue behind the mother and daughter meant to represent an ancestor. In this way I could show the coin symbol being passed between generations. I wasn't sure about the background yet. Perhaps it would be an leafy arch with coins designs in it.


Further refining the thumbnails

My third thumbnail sketch became the basis for the final drawing. I brought the figures inside a solid stone arch and moved the statue to into the arch. A dog next to the mother represents fidelity.

Next I made sketches of the mother and daughter concentrating on their costumes. I chose to dress them in Italian Renaissance style dresses, which definitely bring to mind wealth and abundance.


Color Sketch

A quick digital color sketch of both compositions helped me to decide on which I wanted to continue with, and what the eventual color scheme would be.

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Once I decided on the second composition, I worked on refining the pose of the two figures.


Laying out the background arch I decided to give it an organic Art Nouveau look to tie both nature and history together into a solid stone carving. A statue based on medieval cathedral door jamb figures will be on other side of the archway. These figures are dressed in costumes from centuries earlier.


Stay tuned for more progress on the 10 of Coins painting!

Friday, January 31, 2014

What goes into a book?


In 2013 I wrote my second book: Fantasy Fashion Art Studio (which you can get at my website, etsy, and many book stores. When you take a project like this it seems both daunting and simple at the same time. You don't realize that it will take so much more time and work than anticipated, doubly so if you are perfectionist. Fantasy Fashion Art Studio covers the costume design information that my first book didn't have room for, as well as basic watercolor techniques, background painting and demonstrations of 12 full page paintings.

I started with an outline and a copy of the page layout so I could determine what information would be on each page and the number of images. The number of images is of course guessing at this point because I drew much more than I needed.

Book layout

Once I know what goes roughly where in the book I did sketches for the different topics. These include anatomy diagrams, lots of costume and hair details, wings, background elements and patterns. Many drawings were made with blue pencil so I can further refine with graphite on top.

Book sketch

On to the finished drawings. Finished drawings (or sketches as they were supposed be, but I didn't think my sketches were nice enough to publish and needed to be redrawn) were refined with a fine point mechanical pencil over the blue sketches or by using a light box. A few of them are then inked as well.

Book drawings

Even though now I had all these drawings, I though many just weren't finished yet, because, I'm a detail nut. So many many of them are painted over in watercolor. Some of them show watercolor techniques and color theory and others are painted just because it's prettier.

Book paintedpapers

Planning out the full page paintings - First I start with many small sketches on each theme until I came up with an idea I like. These were scanned, and then sketched over digitally in many layers. I would use one layer for the figure, and more for background and different bits of clothing.

Book digitalsketch

Then before painting I added some digital color to the sketch to help plan out the colors. Unfortunately, since I'm writing a painting demonstration I cannot just choose random colors while painting and need to plan what order they go in or it becomes too complicated for readers to follow the color mixes.


Then drawings are transferred to watercolor paper using my light box. The finished drawings are much more detailed than the sketches which just block out the main shapes. I use a dip pen to ink outline the drawings and and then the finished watercolor paintings are done in 10-14 steps.

Book paintings

Here is a pile of all the paintings and drawings.

Book everything2

For a 128 page book all this adds up to:
many pages of notes
234 typed pages of text
58 pages of preliminary sketches
34+ pages of finished drawings and inks equalling 346 individual little drawings
36 pages of drawings with small watercolor paintings equalling 198 tiny paintings
13+ pages of color swatches, color mixing and watercolor technique illustrations
15 digital pencil and sketches for large paintings
15 digital color mockups
15 full color paintings including the cover
1 large background texture painting

The book sure looks small next to all the art!

Book pile1