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Hilariously Bad Tarot Cards Created by Canva’s AI Image Generator

Would Anyone Buy a Tarot Deck of AI Images?

By Andrea LawrencePublished about a year ago 10 min read
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Created using Canva’s AI image generator

Exploring Canva’s AI Feature

I decided to test out Canva’s AI image generator. I am weary of using AI art in online posts because of how these generators go through databases to recycle and create new images. There are major ethical implications with the new tech.

I caution everyone to be careful using AI-generated images because it could get you into legal trouble. I wrote an article on this; you can read it here:

Can AI Make Tarot Cards As Well As Artists?

For a bit of humor, I tested out how well Canva’s AI generator could produce tarot cards. I fully admit that images created by real artists and photographers are vastly superior to what the generator produced. The AI does try its hardest to create something, but it’s definitely grasping at straws.

I found it interesting to see how AI interprets tarot, so I thought I would show you the first ten images created for the first ten cards of the Major Arcana. My reviews of the cards accompany the images.

The Fool

Created using Canva’s AI generator

Here is a fresh take on The Fool card. The image might stir up thoughts of the Pixies' classic song “Where Is My Mind?”

Tarot is essentially the hero’s journey with the Fool as the protagonist. Here we have a Fool who looks like their mind has been sucked out by an elite alien force. The Fool may in fact be a zombie parading through Europe in medieval times. It’s impossible to say whether he is a giant or if the image is taking creative liberties with perspective.

It appears the sun is literally getting split in half to create two new suns. Perhaps, this is a Fool on a planet with dual stars that orbit around each other. The card has maintained some of the medieval aesthetics that are associated with many tarot decks — the outfit and walking stick look appropriate for a bumbling traveler in the Dark Ages. The image is chopped off at the top for unknown reasons, but we can assume he is holding a red hat.

The Fool carries a staff to guide him on his epic journey. He wears three colors associated with the elements: red, yellow, and green. This could imply he is in touch with fire (free will), air (thoughts), and earth (senses). However, there is no blue, so this could mean the Fool isn’t in touch with his emotions.

Score: 2/10

Reasoning: Proportions are all over the place, the Fool’s face implies a Don Quixote-esque fever dream, and overall it looks like something that escaped a melting universe. The card could maybe belong in a zombie tarot deck.

The Magician

Created using Canva’s AI generator

My first impression is this is an escaped image from a cult Nintendo RPG from the late ’80s. It looks like a high-level enemy from a secret dungeon. He spends all his time practicing magic in a cave, this way when he runs into you he’ll be ready to use his most powerful spells.

The Magician appears to hold two wands, but this is debatable. He might be wearing a white mask to protect his real identity. He could be standing on a rope swing in the middle of a forest with the stars twinkling behind him, and he’s actually giddy for a full moon because that’s when he can play with and tame carnivorous werewolves.

His outfit is incredible. Those long blue sleeves give him an otherworldly edge; the longer and baggier the sleeves, the higher your status as a wizard. The yellow and red cloak has a nice cut to it, giving the character a stunning silhouette. The belt around the waist accentuates an hourglass shape, and I have no idea what’s happening around the neck, but it’s compelling.

Score: 2/10

Reasoning: It’s better to leave this card to nightmares than actual gameplay or cartomancy. The man’s face and yellow hat are altogether a monstrous corruption that I’m not sure if it’s racist or what. It’s near impossible to discern a real mood from the card. I get ambivalence from this image, like a strange person that appears late at night on Stardew Valley to tell you it’s time to go home and milk the cows. What is this man’s purpose? Is he a talented magician or a 12-year-old boy masquerading as a magician?

The High Priestess

Created using Canva’s AI generator

Do you remember the story about the High Priestess of a village who walked around with two cookpots and would touch walls with a look of shock on her face?

In this card, the High Priestess shows off her enlightened side by standing in a doorway with blinding yellow light. On the wall are symbols, and she has picked the one to satisfy her thirst. Her mouth is wide open as if to suck souls into it, and she has a dashing little mustache. Her eyes look alien, or maybe she’s a cat?

She stands at the doorway between the real and the surreal. Her knowledge is revered in all the land; she is the gatekeeper of the divine. No one can truly read her facial expressions. A conversation with her will help you to untangle the mysteries of your subconscious.

Also, I assume she is reaching for a wine bottle because crushed grapes are all the rage in her hip village. She gets through her day with a bottle of rosé.

Score: 2/10

Reasoning: The image, oddly enough, gets a lot correct when it comes to the traditional symbolism of The High Priestess card. There is a sense of duality and arcane knowledge. However, the design is overall hot garbage.

The Empress

Created using Canva’s AI generator

Off the Empress’ shoulder grows a bonsai tree and there are two miniature buckets on it. Above the tree is an eyeball. Perhaps the tree has little buckets to catch the eyeball’s tears. The woman is part human and part druid. She is inching her way into becoming one with the forest.

The expression on her face is actually okay; it almost has an emotion to it. The Empress is missing some fingers, and her clavicle and shoulders have a mind of their own, hinting at her feminine prowess. Her headgear is incredible: it looks like a snake and bones formed into a heart. Her outfit is lovely with a blend of purple and white. I have no idea what she is holding: a candlestick, maybe?

Score: 6/10

Reasoning: I think this image is actually passable for a tarot card design. A real artist could perfect and transcend the concept that the AI gave us. I also like the oddities in the image. Why is there a tree growing off her shoulder?

The Emperor

Created using Canva AI generator

I don’t think this Emperor can effectively govern. His face looks like it’s from a crude video game from decades ago. His outfit and body shape are altogether confusing as if to suggest he is actually a jester and not a ruler of a powerful empire.

I do like the suggestion that he is sitting on a throne, and it’s fascinating that the AI attempted to create a language for the card. Funnily, the AI actually designed the image to look like a card.

I don’t know what the man is holding. He seems to be poking himself in the crotch.

Score: 2/10

Reasoning: This card would never pass. No one would take this Emperor seriously. The midsection of the card is incredibly confusing; he has extremely odd proportions for his torso and thighs. The card comes off unfinished since the man himself has no color. Is he actually made of ice?

The Hierophant

Created using Canva’s AI image generator

The Hierophant is essentially the pope, so I guess in this version we’re getting a high clergy member with bat ears. This card hints at a religion focused on bats, perhaps the man belongs to a cult that worships Batman. The man has a giant mark on his forehead, which could be a mouth that sings songs to get people excited about their Bat deity.

It is impossible to know what the man is holding. My guess is that it is a petri dish of diseases that have been spread by the Bat deity.

Score: 1/10

Reasoning: Though I find this image highly entertaining, I don’t think the world is ready for a bat-centric religion. The art is also incredibly derivative of what humans can do. I believe just about anyone if they really tried could create a superior image. It looks like something a child drew while bored at school.

The Lovers

Created using Canva AI generator

The Lovers card has a warmth to it. The AI did a good job of indicating a connection between two people. There is a nice contrast with the red and green outfits to give the two characters some distinction, and the similar hairstyles make it seem like they’re from the same tribe.

It wouldn’t be too hard to invent a story behind these characters. I’m not really sure what is the orange circle in the background, an orb maybe?

My overall impression is that this comes off like a strange art nouveau postcard intended to bring distant people together for a garden party rendezvous.

Score: 4/10

Reasoning: The card does have a lot going for it. There does seem to be some kind of human connection, whether romance or friendship. The character with the red cloak has some strange things happening to their hair and the background — where does one begin and the other end?

The character in the green outfit has an odd white outline around them. Perhaps the two are taking comfort in each other to try and get away from the nefarious orange orb. The red cloak character’s fingers appear to be strands of yarn.

The Chariot

Created using Canva’s AI image generator

I have more questions and concerns than I do anything else for this image. For one, the most obvious, is how does this image convey a chariot at all? If anyone can tell me, that would be great.

I’m not sure why the image is labeled “Tarr” — I’m slightly concerned that AI is trying to build its own form of astrology. Is Tarr AI’s version of Taurus?

The man’s outfit defies all conventions. He has a spatula coming out of his shoulder. Long pieces of bacon hang off his left arm. There are yellow noodles all over him, suggesting he is the king of pasta. The man might be holding a rifle in his right hand— who knows?

Conclusion: The image is a nightmare from a 6-year-old boy’s imagination.

Score: 0/10

Reasoning: This card fails on every level and makes me uncomfortable. I’m concerned that the AI pulled from religious iconography to create this messed up image. It seems to be the story of how a man went mad while in his messy kitchen. There is nothing here in the image to indicate it is the Chariot tarot card. This image belongs in the trash under old spaghetti and meatballs.

Strength

Image created using Canva’s AI image generator

The image does have a nice palette of yellow, blue, red, and purple. I think this image looks like some sort of strange otherworldly trading card. I assume on another planet in a distant galaxy, there are lifeforms that trade cards of confusing-looking warriors and legendary heroes.

Anyway, I’m not sure how this card conveys strength. I’m concerned as to how the AI did the hands, and I’m not sure if this is a wounded soldier who is missing some of his battle armor or if it’s an alien pretending to be a soldier to get an advantage over its enemies.

This card comes off sad; it’s not about strength and courage but rather martyrdom and poverty. Maybe the person is begging for strength because they’re about to die.

Score: 0/10

Reasoning: This card has too many problems to be used realistically in any setting. It is void of meaning and the art defies basic rules. It disturbs me that AI makes tentacle-like extensions for hands and arms.

The Hermit

Created using Canva AI image generator

I’m not sure why the Hermit is on a raft, but I do like that the image conveys solitude. The Hermit traditionally carries a lantern, not a sign with an arrow pointing up, so that’s an interesting interpretation by AI.

I don’t altogether hate this card like I do others on this list. I think the style is at least consistent. The face, the hands, and whatever is happening with the sign and the Hermit’s cloak are obvious trouble issues.

Look at the card again — is that the sun in the background or a halo around the Hermit? One way or another, I think the card is hinting that solitude is transcendent.

I feel like somehow the AI combined the imagery of the traditional Six of Swords with The Hermit. The card reminds me of biblical art from back in the ’90s. Just throw in a sheep made of cotton balls, and you’d have the right effect.

Score: 2.5/10

Reasoning: The card is certifiably bad, but there is still something to it that’s likable. Maybe it’s the randomness of the arrow sign or the fact that the Hermit is escaping the social world on a raft.

My Two Cents

At this point in time, I think it would be far wiser to use images of tarot cards from websites that have creative commons licenses or from the public domain. These cards look better and if you were writing about tarot, the free-to-use images will look more professional.

Also, you don’t have to worry as much about sources with creative commons licenses as opposed to AI-generated images, which have unclear origins.

***

Originally published: https://medium.com/p/2b1c787e10cf

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About the Creator

Andrea Lawrence

Freelance writer. Undergrad in Digital Film and Mass Media. Master's in English Creative Writing. Spent six years working as a journalist. Owns one dog and two cats.

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