We all start somewhere, but when it comes to tattoos it is better to have a good understanding about how things should be done. I am not saying that the way i work is the best way, but it is my way and it works perfectly for me. I am just sharing the knowledge i have gained so far in my journey on this topic, maybe it works for other artists struggling out there.
Drawing on paper is completely different from tattooing on the skin. These are just a few tips on how you could approach your drawings for a tattoo design.
#1_ Make sure you understand all the ideas that the client have in mind.
Normally (at least for me) first, the client has an appointment only to talk about the tattoo project. In this first approach, i make sure i have all the information needed to work with and where i need to understand what ideas the client has in mind.
#2_ Don´t forget that it is permanent.
During all the process don´t forget that you are about to make a permanent mark on someone skin and probably will later be hard to laser or cover. Make sure you don´t skip any step.
#3_ Be sure about the location and dimensions.
If you don´t want to have twice the work you need to know exactly where the artwork goes on the body. Because there are a few key elements we have to have in mind when drawing a tattoo, like, for example. if a client wants a tattoo with a face of a woman, plus some other objects in his/her arm i like to make sure that the face of the woman is facing the same direction as the face of the client (When the face is not looking in towards the viewer).
There is not so much a problem with dimensions because you can change it on a computer easily once you have the artwork ready and approved.
#4_ Make your research.
I always like to make some research before i start drawing to get "warmed" up or inspired. Sometimes in the first appointment with the client, some ideas come quickly in my mind and i make a quick sketch so i know if the client likes it or not. That helps a lot when we refer to timing, because if the person approves that first draft, at least you are halfway through the process.
With this first draft, you already have an idea where the elements will be placed. Now use the internet for your advantage, to inspire you in the style the client wants (not to copy), to be creative and start drawing!
#5_ Organize your ideas.
I personally like to focus on one element at a time. If the tattoo is composed for example of a skull, a rose, a woman face and a car, i will consider the first sketch i did with the client in the shop (or not) and see where is better to start.
#6_ Draw the elements separately.
Normally i like to draw each element alone and when all the subjects are ready i think about the final version for the composition. I usually do this in Procreate. I love traditional drawing (is my favorite), but when the work starts to grow it helps a lot because is faster and not so messier (and fun too!).
#7_ Understand about composition.
When you are organizing all the elements keep in mind the shape of the body part where the tattoo will be placed. So many times this next situation has happened to me: the client comes in the shop to see the final piece and at first, they all tend to say "Can you make it smaller? I think is too big for my arm." I always say for the client to take a look in the mirror to have an idea of how it will look. Normally they change their minds and want to keep it how i did it.
Why? The client doesn´t have any idea about proportion versus free body space or dimensions, In their minds, they see only the artwork not the artwork in the arm (that is our job). So you need to show the client "why?".
What happens is the client sees it on the mirror in the small size and then realize that it doesn´t fit...because there is a lot of empty spaces on the sides of the arm, and that gives you an idea that that tattoo wasn´t made for this person´s arm (arm just as an example). And then the client sees the piece you think fits better and can understand what you mean.
I hope you find these tips helpful! Share it if you find this article interesting.