For my Final Degree Project, I decided to make a poker deck, since in this way I could represent female characters in the figures of the queens. The characters that I represent in the letters belong to the Celtic mythology and folklore, specifically the one from the British Isles. I investigated to find characters that fit the figures, keeping in mind that I made each suit correspond to one of the four seasons.
I am preparing a crowdfunding campaign to be able to produce them. You can subscribe to my newsletter to keep up to date on the project. To make the illustrations I combined traditional techniques such as pencil drawing for sketching and digital techniques for enlarging the sketches and coloring in the clean pencil line after scanning the final drawings with my Canon LiDE 200.
I selected the characters taking into account both their physical and psychological characteristics. In this way, the characters of the Spring cards are younger than those of the Winter cards, which I also associated with death, to end the cycle.
Hover over the images to see the lineart
Ace of Clubs
I decided to represent the aces by adorning them with rowan, as this is a plant that is associated with fairies. For Spring I drew it blossom.
The legend tells that in Suffolk they found two children with green skin. At first they refused eat, until they were given green food. Over time they learned to speak English and they said they came from an underground land where everything was green and there was a permanent evening light. Unfortunately the boy died, but the girl grew up, began to eat food of different colors and her skin lost its green tone.
Suffolk Green Child
These creatures are always very beautiful and inhabit rivers and other freshwater pools. They can also be found in Greek mythology.
The also called Angus, is the Celtic god of love. He is the son of Dagda, another Celtic god. Legend has it that he fell in love with a swan maiden.
Ace of Hearts
This ace belongs to the Summer and that is why I painted the rowan berries with orange tones.
For this card I chose to make the illustration of a common fairy with her skin tanned by the Summer sun.
These creatures have sealskin that they sometimes shed and hide while the are visiting the land. If someone finds their skin, they can make them get married but they will return to the sea if they find their skin again.
This god is said to have all the powers and all the talents and is related to the Sun. During the Summer a series of festivities are held in his honor.
This is my favorite ace, it belongs to the Fall. I assigned this season to the spades because their shape reminds me of the leaves that fall in Autumn.
Ace of Spades
These Irish creatures are related to pots of gold, which only they know where they are hidden. They can also be seen represented in green as they are related to Saint Patrick and good luck.
This goddess belongs to the people of the Tuatha Dé Danann. She was Midhir's lover, until his wife turned her into a fly. Seven years later she was swallowed by the wife of King Etar and was reborn looking the same but without remembering who she was. She married the Irish King Eochaid Airhem, whom Midhir challenged when he found her, to get him to kiss her. Once he succeeded, she regained her memory and left with Midhir.
He is one of the most important gods. He ruled the Tuatha Dé Danann and was considered the Druid god.
Diamonds correspond to Winter, which I associate with death and the end of a cycle. The cool hues of Winter create a nice contrast to the red of the icons.
Ace of Diamonds
These beings, who sometimes take the form of animals, are evil and accompany the spirits to the land of the dead.
This fairy woman is considered the Irish spirit of death. She can be found crying while washing the clothes of those who are going to die.
He is the king of the Annwn, the underground realm of the dead. This character can also be found in Greek mythology, named Hades.
Druids are humans who participate in the magical world, so I thought about using them for jokers, because they are not really magical creatures. This druid is holding a golden sickle that is used in a ritual in which mistletoe is cut and sacrifices are made.
I have represented this druid holding the mistletoe of the ritual in which both jokers are participating.