Latest News & Updates
Posted on Sun, April 14, 2019
Recently I took on a sleeve coverup project where we were dealing with some fairly dark unwanted work. The upper outer part of the arm in particular had some open areas that allowed us to make a strong composition that wasn’t too dense, working with an industrial Biomech theme which is great for covering old tattoos because of its use of rythmic structured detail work. In the above photos you can see the results of the first pass, where we achieved a solid foundation that will allow us to really dial it in during the next session. But we didn’t simply blast over the old work, which makes for dense looking coverups- the approach was a bit more strategic than that, which you can read about in detail in a new section that we just added on page 8.2.7
Posted on Wed, January 30, 2019
Realism is a genre of tattooing that sometimes comes under fire as being graphically insubstantial and prone to aging poorly. @philgarcia805 has enough of a background in traditional tattooing to appreciate the need for a strong foundation, which is demonstrated here in this adaptation of a @clarklittle photo. Phil carefully interprets his photo references in such a way that strengthens and clarifies the image to give it more clarity and longevity. In this example he has chosen a wave photo that has excellent contrast, giving the piece plenty of value range and allowing for a strong black foundation despite the no-outline approach. You can read more about how Phil optimized this image for skin in the Lines&Edges chapter of your ReinventingTheTattoo.com subscription, along with Phil’s guest writer chapter, Attention To Detail. #tattoo #education #tattooeducation #realism #realismtattoo
Posted on Wed, January 23, 2019
It's always fun when our clients approach us with compositional challenges. In some cases this may mean a laundry list of ideas which need to be narrowed down severely; in other cases, like the one shown here, it's just a matter of bringing the elements together in such a way that they can coexist peacefully in the same composition. My client here had asked for a cicada, a skull and some cool geometry. Given no space limits I opted for the largest composition that the leg allowed for, which gave me a sizable canvas in which to bring together these three seemingly unrelated elements. You can read in detail about my design strategy, including how I reserved certain colors and textures for certain shapes in order to retain clarity, in the Reserve chapter of your ReinventingTheTattoo.com subscription.
Posted on Sat, November 17, 2018
Often I’ll use a combination of line weights in a piece in order to make certain elements pop out the most. In other cases, though, the goal is for something softer and with more of a sense of realism, leaving the additional challenge of making shapes visually distinct from each other without varying line weight. In this psychedelic floral piece I did on Julia, we used relatively fine sculpted lines for certain shapes, including the ornamental plant stuff toward the bottom of the piece, but then the rest of this complex composition was handled using edges, not lines- but done so mindfully in order to keep the piece readable. You can read more about my use of edging techniques in this piece in the Lines&Edges chapter of your ReinventingTheTattoo.com subscription. #tattoo #education #tattooeducation #outlines #arttheory
Posted on Thu, November 15, 2018
Lately we are seeing more and more use of bold white lines in tattoos, and of course many ask: How will that hold up? White ink by itself is very subtle, only shows up clearly on some skin types, and can heal with uncertain results. But used the right way, this approach can create a really striking look, as with this bioluminescent jellyfish that @jonclue and I tattooed recently on Jordan. We wanted to make a creature that appeared soft and luminous but which still had enough strength not only to hold up with time but also to read clearly through a mat of leg hair. You can read in detail about our approach to this piece in the Lines&Edges chapter of your ReinventingTheTattoo.com subscription. #tattoo #education #tattooeducation #jellyfish #marine #abstract #psychedelic #coral #art
Posted on Thu, October 25, 2018
With free-form organic work, part of my goal is always to create a convincing depth effect. With black and grey or muted color schemes, such as this pearlescent gray palette use here, that challenge becomes more pronounced, since vibrant contrasting colors aren’t being used as a clear and obvious way to distinguish the different shapes from each other. When my longtime friend and colleague @deanocook asked me to take on this massive laser coverup project, he had a fairly distinct palette in mind, and I gladly embraced these limitations to see where I could run with them. You can read in detail about my color choices and other tricks used to convey dimension in this piece in the Depth chapter of your ReinventingTheTattoo.com subscription. #seashells #coral #depth #laser #coverup #biomech #abstractart #sleeve #tattoo #education #tattoo education
Posted on Tue, October 23, 2018
I love making layers in my tattoo designs, where you can get a sense of what’s in the foreground, middle ground and background, to the point where it almost seems like you could reach in and grab it. This effect is achieved by combining various graphic tricks meant to enhance depth, tricks that work in almost any style, not just biomech such as with this hand tattoo by @donmcdonaldtattoo and myself. You can read more about the tricks we used in this piece in the Depth chapter of your ReinventingTheTattoo.com subscription. #art #drawing #depth #tattoo #education #tattooeducation
Posted on Fri, October 19, 2018
You all know how much I love textures, and in some cases I have to intentionally limit my use of them in order to keep a composition balanced. When my German client Uli asked me to start this epic piece inspired by the great tree painter Eyvind Earle, I saw it as an opportunity to create a flowing piece that transformed his leg, but knew that I had to be mindful to keep it from becoming a hard-to-read riot of textures. You can read about how I planned out this piece in the Flow&Fit chapter of your ReinventingTheTattoo.com subscription.
Posted on Thu, October 11, 2018
Nobody does focus effects like New Zealand realist Steve Butcher, who has been seizing the world's attention with his eye-popping portraits and wildlife tattoos, with his sports action portraits being some of his most stand-out work. We recently had a chance to interview Steve and get some insights into the thinking and technical processes that go into creating effective focal fields on skin. He shared everything from his stenciling to needle choices and use of color, providing realists with a chance to expand their language and incorporate focus, which can make a piece look like it came straight from a camera. Focal fields are a type of contrast, which makes it possible to selectively make certain elements stand out while others drop back. You can read more about Steve’s groundbreaking technique in the Contrast chapters of your ReinventingTheTattoo.com
subscription. #tattoo #focus #realism #portraits #tattooportrait #education #tattooeducation
Posted on Mon, August 27, 2018
The larger and more complex a design is, the more crucial it becomes that your pos/neg relationships make sense to the viewer’s eye. In this collaborative backpiece I did with New York artist Jon Clue, we planned on sticking with a mainly organic and textured approach, making readability even more important... so we made use of bold areas of black and a few strategic cast shadows to help keep it all together. You can read in detail about how we planned this one out in the Positive/Negative Relationships chapter of your ReinventingTheTattoo.com subscription!
Posted on Sun, August 26, 2018
Large canvases such as backpieces can be great fun with all that space to design for, but this fact makes it even more crucial that you determine Hey which design elements get your top visual priority. In this Heaven-themed back tattoo that I did with Brian Geckle, we wanted to combine an airy, luminous mandala with a row of fences and gates- both elements being geometric and symmetrical, giving us the challenge of keeping them visually separate. Part of this was accomplished simply by being selective with our use of black. You can read about this in more detail in the Priority chapter of your ReinventingTheTattoo.com subscription.
Posted on Fri, August 24, 2018
When approaching smaller pieces, especially complex multilayered ones, I try to break the composition down into a few simple large light and dark areas that will read clearly from a distance, rather than looking like a jumble. With this big hand hook on Wes, we wanted to work in a few gears and things along with the hook- a recipe for potential chaos. So I began by anchoring the design with a big simple flowing diagonal shape, one with a decent surface area, and then plotted in the gear elements around that. You can about the design strategy for this piece in more detail in the Contrast chapter of your ReinventingTheTattoo.com subscription.
Posted on Wed, August 22, 2018
Many of the pieces I tattoo make use of multiple layers of elements, which could easily get crowded if not for some careful planning. I usually start by asking myself which elements are the highest priority- that is, what do I want the viewer to notice first?- and then designing so that those elements stand out. In this classic biker babe sleeve I made use of line weight, contrast, focus and color to make her face stand out. You can read all about my approach to this design in the Priority chapter of your ReinventingTheTattoo.com subscription!
Posted on Mon, August 20, 2018
Value contrast is important in any tattoo, where your dark and light areas form a strong visual balance... but with black and grey work, we don’t have the benefit of color to help differentiate the shapes in the piece, so use of light and dark becomes more critical in the success of the tattoo. In this collaboration with Pennsylvania artist @chrishall, we wanted to make the honeycomb cluster really stand out, so we placed the darkest shading in the areas around that cluster while limiting the use of black within it. You can read more about how we planned out this piece in the Contrast chapter of your ReinventingTheTattoo.com subscription!
Posted on Mon, July 30, 2018
We are excited to announce the addition of an important new seminar, Flow & Fit, to the Reinventing The Tattoo curriculum! Flow and fit are at the core of good tattoo design, and such a fundamental part of the discussion of good tattoo drawing that it's the first chapter in the book after the introduction... you'll find the new seminar posted at the end of Page 9. Featuring the work of @guyaitchisonart @meganjeanmorris @coryferguson @burningxhope @philgarcia805 @zhencangtattoo @tymcewen @juan_salgado @russabbott @natebeavers @adamfrance and @shainesmithtattoo, the workshop shows you how to apply strong flowing design strategies to any style of tattooing. Available now in your ReinventingTheTattoo.com subscription!
Click HERE for more information!
Posted on Wed, August 16, 2017
Reinventing The Tattoo: Technique
One of Guy Aitchison's hardest-hitting video tutorials is simply
titled Technique. It’s a four disk set that shows you closeup footage
of the machine in action as Guy works through five different projects,
presented in a concentrated format. The first two disks are a special
edition cut of his Guy’s Bag Of Tricks webinar, showing a project from
start to finish as he answers a variety of questions from the audience
about design preparation, palette and the equipment and methods he's
using. The other two disks, Tightening 1 and 2, go into detail about
finishing techniques, spotlighting four projects up close, describing
every move in detail as Guy shows the line building, detailing,
smoothing and other development on a variety of effects including
floral, organic, mechanical, metallic and carved wood, with each piece
showed healed so you can see the kind of results that you can
realistically expect from working with these methods.
Posted on Mon, February 06, 2017
Photo Retouching Tutorial Now Added To Reinventing The Tattoo
Reinventing The Tattoo just became even more useful. Ever wondered how you can turn those pretty-decent snapshots of your finished work into a professional-looking portfolio, or how to prepare them for a magazine feature? Guy has just added his Wacom Weekend seminar: Photo Retouching and Portfolio Work to the Photoshop chapters of Reinventing. This class is about an hour long and goes into detail about how you can improve your photos without improving the tattoo. Drop by ReinventingTheTattoo.com to read more about Guy Aitchison's comprehensive educational package for professional tattoo artists.
Digital Tattoo Design Rendering Now Added To Reinventing The Tattoo
Reinventing The Tattoo has just had three hour-long Photoshop seminars added! Have you ever wondered how to use Photoshop to get those seamless professional design results that you see people posting? Guy has just added his Wacom Weekend seminar: Digital Tattoo Design Rendering to the Photoshop chapters of Reinventing. This class is about an hour long and goes into detail about how you can use Photoshop to get high-end results with your designs. Drop by ReinventingTheTattoo.com to read more about Guy Aitchison's comprehensive educational package for professional tattoo artists.
Photoshop Compositing Tutorial Now Added To Reinventing The Tattoo
Reinventing The Tattoo has been expanded again. Are you curious about how to use Photoshop to smoothly bring together images from several sources, including online material and your own drawings? Guy has just added his Wacom Weekend seminar: Essential Design Compositing to the Photoshop chapters of Reinventing. This class is about an hour long and goes into detail about how you can bring Photoshop into your design workflow. Drop by ReinventingTheTattoo.com to read more about Guy Aitchison's comprehensive educational package for professional tattoo artists.
Posted on Mon, September 26, 2016
September 26, 2016
Greetings from Reinventing The Tattoo!
Every other Monday
I'm giving you a quick report of something that happened here at the studio in the past week. Recently we had a visit from Chris Hall, who tattoos in Pennsylvania and does some very fun abstract organic tattoo work. Recently Chris, while collaborating with a number of other artists for the upcoming Biomech Encyclopedia project, introduced the idea of using malleable materials such as plaster or crumpled paper as inspiration for organic abstract tattoo drawings. This past week was the second visit in an ongoing sleeve project that Chris and I have been collaborating on, giving us a chance to extend and refine the parts that we had established in the first visit a few months back.The design was composited together in Photoshop from a number of pictures that we shot of spikes and hooks that we had crumpled out of plain paper. We had to be mindful to photograph each part of the design with the lighting hitting from the right direction, so that when pieced together in Photoshop it would all make sense. The finished reference was then printed at full size based on a tracing of the client's arm, then hand-traced in two stages: first, Chris traced it onto the thin cover sheets for stencil paper (the white sheet, not the yellow one) using pencil but with no stencil paper in the mix. I then taped it down over stencil paper and traced it a second time. This gave both of us a chance to have our hand in the stencil, giving it a good balance of realism and style.
This particular client has a limited pain tolerance, so rather than the normal double day power session with both artists jamming, it was one day, moderate in length, one tattoo machine at a time. It'll take one more session to dial it in, but I'm happy with our progress. Then the next day I had a few hours to skim over the hand piece that I had recently done on Chris. It had healed and settled just fine, but since the opportunity was there, I took it. Like the crumpled paper piece, this tattoo has no outline, while still using strong areas of black. The no outline approach can always benefit from a second pass, especially when it comes to giving the piece a really readable structure.
Meanwhile, back at the desk, I've just talked to my old friend Deano Cook about doing a chapter for Reinventing The Tattoo, possibly along with a video tutorial. Deano was one of the pioneers in color realism back in the early 2000s and continues to push the envelope with his distinctive marine realism, often based on photos that he shot himself on diving expeditions. Deano has always impressed me with his dedication in his craft, and I look forward to seeing what he and I can come up with to add to the Reinventing curriculum! In addition, I just got off the phone with Nate Beavers, whom many of you know from the current season of Inkmasters. Nate is a maestro of texture and surface detail, and he plans to write a chapter about his toolkit, along with another possible video tutorial. Both of these chapters will be cutting edge information from some of my personal favorites. And there will be plenty more guest chapters in the future from additional artists of this high caliber.
Thanks, and I'll be in touch soon!
Posted on Mon, February 01, 2016
We now have a fifth guest chapter added, this one by guest writer Halo whom you may remember from last year's Inkmasters. His excellent chapter is an introduction to Photoshop: Taking The Digital Plunge. His writing style is easy and personable ion a way that makes his encyclopedic knowledge easier to digest. I've been using Photoshop for almost 20 years and learned several new things from this chapter. Even if you don't think of yourself as a digital kind of person, it's worth taking a quick look just to see what all the fuss is about. The chapter is really intemded for people who have yet to take the plunge, but it's a good read even for experienced Photoshop users. You can find it in the Reinventing The Tattoo electronic edition in Chepter 5.21.
We also got a great addition to Chapter 6.21, Working With Large Stencils, written by Don McDonald. It was already an excellent chapter but this is sort of a cherry on top, showing the making of a backpiece stencil You can find the new material at the end of the chapter.
More new material is on the way, including a chapter by Phil Garcia (Yeah!) and a 2-hour video on coverups, which I'm editing right now.