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How to Draw on Skin for a Tattoo

Learn how to draw on skin from acclaimed tattoo artist James Vaughn in this Howcast video.


We're going to work with this hand, it's kind of a round shape. We're going to do a flower. I do a lot of flowers, and what we'll do is we'll start with a few preliminary lines. I usually use three different colors. I'll start with the orange because it kind of give me a little kind of a idea of where everything is going to go, and then I'll go in with a more defined with a darker color.

The hand shape is this way, so I'll draw a circle on the hand to kind of get an idea. Most all designs, flower designs, most of the oriental style flowers, peonies, splattered mum's, everything derives from a circle. Also with designing or a tattoo, most of the designing is all derived from circles.

You wan to see that I'm going to tilt this flower. I'm going to draw it so that it actually tilts towards the inside of the body, so that it actually draws your eye towards the center of the body. Most everything that you would do placement wise, even if you do stencils, everything should face into the body. Everything's coming into the body, so that's a good tip.

Alright, so I'm going to start with a couple little ideas on the preliminary lines to get an idea of where each one of these petals is going to go. I'm drawing a peony, I do a lot of them, and I really enjoy doing flowers. Like Bob Ross, happy little flowers here and there. But I'm just going to draw a few little lines here and there so I can get an idea of where to go.

Always remember when you're drawing it to, if you have existing tattoos, always think about how you're going to connect those tattoos. You're basically making . . . I do full coverage tattoos, so I'm always working with existing work that's already there. So when I'm actually designing a tattoo I design it to work with what they already, have whether I'm having to bring this darkness down into the flower design, that way it all blends together, so it makes it all one tattoo.

Peonies, they have a lot of folds, and the more folds you create the more depth you make in the flower the richer the depth is going to be. So you try to mainly fill the design up with the hand, that way you don't have a lot of residual action on the sides. Also try to put as much detail, but not too much detail that it crowds it all together.

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