Wednesday, July 1, 2015

DIY Oracle: make oracle cards with abstract art created on your iPhone

One of my greatest joys is my creativity, but unfortunately I'm not very talented in the drawing department. So, I use my creativity to come up with new ways to "draw." Last year, I learned to create abstract art using iPhone apps.

Sometimes, abstract art is perfect for the oracle deck you want to create. It may provide a simpler interface with the cards, helping the reader fill in the blanks using their intuition. One abstract tarot deck I've seen a lot on Instagram is Eric Soto's Soto Tarot deck. Check it out on his blog.

If you have wondered how to create an oracle deck with abstract images, here are some ideas to get you started:

Geometric abstracts made with Tangent app

Right now, I'm playing with my new Chakra Cards, a simple, square 35-card deck featuring cards corresponding to the seven chakras. I used some simple colors and ran them through Tangent app to add a few lines and shapes for more visual appeal.

With Tangent, you can add geometric shapes, patterns, and texture overlays to your photos. The app is really easy to use. Just open your photo in the app and tap on one of the many patterns or frame presets to create an unlimited number of possibilities.

I settled on a simple pattern with a triangle. With this deck, the triangle is used as a pointer. If the chakra is balanced, the triangle will point up. If the chakra is overactive, the triangle will point to the right. If underactive, it will point to the left and when blocked it points down.

Kaleidoscope mandalas made with Defqt app

These are the minors from a tarot deck I'm calling Shadow Spirits Tarot. I'm not sure if it will ever see the light of day but it's been a fun and really creative process. For the minor pips, I created mandalas using the app, Defqt.

In the app, the effects are called “defects.” Some of the defects include:

Kaleidoscope: kaleidoscopic patterns
Stripes: slices image into stripes
Mesh: unique mesh pattern
Blender: interesting color patterns
Reflect: mirror images
Noise: grainy lines
Wave: liquid distortion

I used the kaleidoscope effect to create these different mandalas for each suit. Just pull any photo into Defqt and choose the Kaleidoscope defect. I usually tap the randomizer in the app until I see an effect I like and then save it.

For a bit more on using Defqt, check out my tutorial using this app to create abstract portraits.

Flower abstracts made with RollWorld app

I haven't figured out how I'd like to use these flower abstracts for an oracle deck, but I really love them. They were made in the RollWorld app. RollWorld produces what's known as a tiny planet effect (also called stereographic, little planet or little world effect) which turns your photo into a circular image imitating a small planet. The bottom third of the photo becomes the center of the planet and the top of the photo wraps around the planet.

Typically, people use these apps to create the tiny planet effect out of landscape photos that have a definitive horizon line. However, I like to use this app with photos of flowers to create a flower planet abstract.

The first step is to take a photo of flowers. It's best to use a bunch or group of flowers in different colors rather than a single flower. Then you simply edit the photo in the app. There are lots of options for creating different images. I like to take the RollWorld image and "paint" it in a few painterly style apps as well. If you'd like a step-by-step on this, read my tutorial at iPhone Photography School.

There are tons of ways to create an abstract effect with photo editing apps, and I'm sure you can find Android apps with these same features. Now, go make something!


  1. What a cool idea! I'll definitely have to download an app and try this out.

    1. I'm so glad you like this post, Psyche! Yes, definitely try one of the apps. Tangent is the only one that costs money ($1.99). The other two apps are free although it's worth it to upgrade to the full defects package with Defqt. I'd love to see what you create!