How to Design a Tattoo Flash Sheet

Learn how to design a tattoo flash sheet from acclaimed tattoo artist James Vaughn in this Howcast video.

These are some examples of flash sheet that I did, actually probably in 2005, so it’s been a long time ago, still current. I like to do, or tell my artists to do flash sheets, and actually practice flash sheets. I know we all grew up with the Go Cherry Creek, Paul Booth flash, you know, when we were coming up tattooing, and this is really good art for the walls. We have a lot of good artists coming up. I got a lot of inspiration from Dave Fox and Mark Lacoste. Basically what it does is get your ideas out of your head, and you can actually work with watercolors. We can also, you can learn how to use watercolor, in painting your flash, and you’re using a lot of the same techniques, when you’re doing your flash, you’re actually tattooing, so you’re building your craft. You’re actually working on your craft in a way that you’re painting. I always tell up and coming artists to keep watercoloring. Water coloring is very, very essential to learning color blending, learning what colors go with what, how to blend this or how to blend that, because I tattoo the same way as I watercolor.

When you do a flash sheet, you’re actually using ideas from other people, and it’s a way to… you can see these as prints and at conventions. I like to put out my art and, like I said, doing a flash sheet, you’re actually able to get it out there, let people see your actual artwork. They might like your ideas. And I always say you don’t pick this as your tattoo, don’t pick it as your tattoo, you say I like something like that. I call it more, rather than a flash, more of an artist reference, you like my idea, draw one, draw your own, just use my idea, my format and do your own. Do it like you’re painting a painting, fill it up, pick two or three, maybe four primary designs and build from that. Make a little depth, make it a little scene, put some things together that actually work together. I do a lot of flowers and koi fish, flowers and koi fish work well. Flowers and flowers and flowers work well, mix it up. I don’t like to mix a couple of different genres together, I like to keep Japanese with Japanese, and traditional with traditional, so just have fun with it.