Tattoo Design – Understanding Aesthetics
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How Aesthetics Influence Tattoo Design
Your notes are everything when drafting a design. If you know that your client wants something traditional, you won’t spend time doing realistic work (This may seem ignorant to post, but sometimes we all need a reminder.)
Choose what you want the viewer to focus on before starting the design. Use the body to help dictate what areas work best. Pay attention to where the focal points are best viewed – from the front, back or side.
Check out the article on body mapping to get a better idea of working with the body.
Body Mapping and Tattoo Design
Love The Finished Piece
Tell every client that you refuse to make any changes once the final design is completed and accepted. There is nothing worse than getting halfway through a tattoo and trying to fit something else in. The design is what it is, and there should be enough time to discuss the artwork before the procedure begins.
Try To Figure Out How To Utilize Aesthetics By Practicing a Consult
Get out some paper and give it a try!
Choosing The Most Important Elements –
To practice pulling out the aesthetic of a client, let’s take a practice scenario (and this is the most likely scenario you will run into while tattooing):
- First Note Taken From Client – “The client wishes to have a sleeve completed. The images they want to include in the design are – An angel, a rosary, clouds, three roses and three doves. They wish for the design to be open at the should to ensure they can tie into a chest piece they want in the future. The angel represents the client’s mother, the 3 doves represent friends they lost in the field and the 3 roses are for siblings.”
- Second Note Taken from Client – “This tattoo represents family and lost loved ones. They wish for the tattoo to be very dynamic – high contrast value – with special significance given on the angel’s face. The angel should be located on the lower forearm of the tattoo, if possible”
- Third Not Taken from Client – “Client’s skin is mid toned, rougher complexion with bluish undertones. Mid 30’s, factory worker, ex-military”
How should we approach this design now that we have all the notes we need to start?
First, make a list of what is important and necessary to a client. Rank their input and see who it can influence the design process.
With each of the elements – we are forced to find where they best fit on the client’s body part. For fluid or organic shapes, like the rosary, we would best assume they would fit into high distortion areas or spaces on the arm that connect one section to another.
Large, static images like faces and plants require less distortion to look good, regardless of how the person moves. using flowing elements like the rosary an artists can focus placement on a space that works with the movement. The result of placing a fluid, organic shape on a high distortion part of the body is that you can make it move.
Large images require large areas of skin to make sense. You would not put a 1″ square design in the middle of the back and expect it to stand out from a distance. In the same vein, we wouldn’t take a back piece and shrink it down to fit on an ankle.
Things that are round or straight will distort like crazy on high mobility areas (like the area below the elbow on a sleeve). Avoiding use of non-organic designs in these areas and stick to things that want to move.
We are always looking to make things a little darker. While this may work well on large sections of the body that are hidden from the elements (like the back, torso, upper arms and legs) those that are exposed to the elements require a darker tone. The sun bleaches out tattoos so making them darker in these sections leads to a more even design years into the future. If you cannot make the design darker in sections and keep it looking good, find the darker focal point elements and place them in these places.
How much does the client want to see certain aspects of the design? When placing things on less than easily accessible viewpoints (like you need a mirror to see them) you deny the client from enjoying things you worked so hard on to perfect. This accompanies the fact that some people want aspects of large-scale designs visible – the aspects of the tattoo that mean the most to them. Building a design that keeps certain things in view while hiding the less than (or more personal) aspects of the tattoo makes sense.