Tarot by Design Workbook | Review

29 April 2017

After Mandala coloring cards, coloring books for adults and specific mindfulness coloring exercise books it seems the next step is in our own branche: tarot. In the last few months several tarot coloring books hit the market. Tarot by Design by Diana Heyne is one of them and I got to doodle away and tell you all about it.

Tarot by Design is a publication of Weiser Books. The Workbook, its alternative title, is obviously based on the Waite-Smith cards, but it also definitely isn’t an exact copy of the RWS. (This most likely has to do with the fact the copyright isn’t in the hands of Weiser, but USGS). How I see it, this has a downside and a -bigger – upside.


Cutesy combo of WCS & TdM
The downside could count for absolute beginners who consider a tarot coloring book to start learning tarot the creative way and want the original. The same applies to more advanced readers who prefer Pamela’s drawings and not someone else’s. If you really wanted to learn or be creative with one of the most used decks in the world, I don’t blame you. But Tarot by Design only gives you a deck that is close…not an exact copy. If you, however, turned to this coloring book just because you wanted to ‘get busy’ with tarot in a different way, and you don’t feel the need to do so with an exact replica of Waite-Smith drawings, then Diane’s work offers plenty.

Heyne’s tarot drawings have a cutesy take on the Waite-Smith. The artist of Tarot by Design offers a few traditional Tarot de Marseille influences too. The Magician is very much like Le Bateleur, Death close to the Unnamed XIII and there are several other Major Arcana that resemble a combination of images from more modern decks like the WCS and the Marseille and Milan decks from the 18th and 19th century. The scenics are mostly very close to Pamela’s drawings, but other than the more friendly take on the WCS – big eyes, round shapes and sometimes a children’s book-like approach -there are also a few interesting deviations in the tarot images as a whole.

Tarot by Design
28 death
2 fool copy

The Moon, XIII and The Fool show the different approach to Waite-Smith Diana Heyne made for Tarot by Design.

Personal coloring perspective

Actually, while I was browsing through the book I noticed something. And this is the upside: for readers that have a tendency to stay in their head too much it might be a plus that the images in Tarot by Design are not exactly as their famous big brother. Those cards are very well-known and have a very specific esthetic. While Heyne modelled her pictures after WCS and TdM, both very well-known decks, her drawings still offer a blank canvas in more ways than one.

If you have a hard time letting go of what you’ve already learnt when doing something new in tarot-land you might inadvertedly color The Fool’s boots yellow and the High Priestess with blue, because this is what you have seen so far. The palette is so familiar. By the way, nothing wrong with doing exactly that if you are approaching this as a study on coloring in (Western) tarot – we all have different ideas on what to do with workbooks like these.

Diana Heyne, author/artist for Tarot by Design Workbook

Rhyme and reason
But if the reason you want to use Diane Heyne’s Tarot by Design is to create a personal representation (perhaps *your* Fool has brown boots and your HP wears purple, who knows…) of tarot, this workbook gives us exactly that opportunity. To let go off the coloring you think is expected, and focus on what *you* ‘see’ and feel when thinking about the core of a card. I for one would be very interested in the differences between the tarot coloring by people from different religions or very different cultures.

Next to all the drawings the book has a separate page for each of the 78 cards; the learning pages. A semi-blank page for notes and journaling, but Diana Heyne already gave you a symbol and a rhyme for every arcana. Just in case you needed something to get you going.

I am not sure if there is more to be expected from coloring books like this (I didn’t), but in this case this was it.

Practical coloring tips for Tarot by Design

Felt tips, water coloring and other type of coloring tools that can bleed through aren’t ideal for this book. Simple colored pencils are what works best on the type of paper used. Maybe crayons…But those could easily give ‘spots’ on your journaling page.

Also, the only downside in the binding was, that I needed a paper weight to keep the book flat. It kept closing on me, but I guess this is a common thing with most of these books. At least that also means the binding is pretty decent…which is something that *isn’t* always common with paperbacks ;-).

Tarot by Design is simply a 78+78 paged workbook to (re)connect with the cards through drawings – and some journaling on the side. There are no instructions, exercises or stories. I guess in a way that is exactly the crux and purpose: Tarot by Design is an almost blank canvas, offering you a version of the Waite-Smith with some TdM hints and enough of a difference to let go of the preexisting palette and to figure out which tarot is inside of you. You can be a beginners just creating a connection, or an advanced reader making his/her own take on tarot. So, take those pencils, open your mind and (3rd?) eye and get on with filling in your perspective. I won’t tell anyone if you don’t draw in between the lines…

For more information on Diana Heyne you can check her website.

Tarot by Design Workbook on Amazon
Tarot by Design Workbook on Bookdepository

Author or artist Publisher Publication
Diana Heyne Red Wheel/Weiser 2017 March 2017

Wrap Up

Tarot by Design