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Drawing For Tattoo Design: Use this Color Trick in Your Next Tattoo Fireside Technique EP 31

Use this Color Trick in Your Next Tattoo | Fireside Technique | EP 31

“...people think that we’re pouring a lot of muted colors straight out the bottle. We’re only using high key, bright colors but using them in a way that we get an infinite number of subtle off tones in any value you can imagine.”
- Jake Meeks

In this brief episode we’ll be touching on shifting values and making subtle blends with tattoo ink. Color can be a tricky thing if you aren’t totally sure what you’re after, especially when you’re just trying to make a slight adjustment. Enjoy!

This episode was made possible thanks to:

by Jake Meeks –

Topics: Tattoo Techniques, Color Tattoos, Fireside Technique, Tattoo ink Mixing, 

Learn much more about successfully using color in your tattoos with our Fireside Simplify Course.

Mixing Colors With Black

mixing colors with black makes isn't always the best

“Look what happens whenever I go to black. It turns green…”

- Jake Meeks

When you're mixing your colors with black, you start to lose value and chroma, which sometimes isn’t what you're looking for. Using yellow as an example, it will start to turn towards green when you darken it with black. This isn’t a good solution if you are just trying to go darker but maintain the yellow hue.

Neutralizing a Color with its Complementary

“To desaturate my yellow, I might mix in this purple…”

- Jake Meeks

When you start to mix a color with its complementary, it will start to desaturate. And it doesn’t take much, just a small dip will be enough to mute the color.

mixing colors colors directly in the cup

For example, mixing a light purple with your bright yellow will dull it a bit and keep its chroma without adjusting the value since the two colors were similar in value to start.

Changing Value while Maintaining Chroma

“You CAN use black and white to lighten/darken a color BUT they probably SHOULDN’T be your first option.”

- Jake Meeks

You can create so many different, subtle tones from just mixing complementary colors together. Experiment with your own tattoo color palette to see if you can get any interesting shifts from dark to light without using black or white.


neutralize colors by using their complementary


Try this simple trick on your next tattoo and share it with us on social media by tagging @firesidetattoonetwork



Want more tattoo education and resources?

Check out our Drawing for Tattoos catalog HERE!

Transcript can be found here. All Transcripts can be found here

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The Fireside Tattoo Network is home to the Fireside podcast, Fireside Technique video series and our Fireside Weekly blog.

The Fireside Tattoo podcast is hosted by veteran tattooer Jake Meeks, check out our episodes where we discuss, argue and wax philosophical, from tips for all levels of artists to trends in the tattoo world. Many guest artists have sat down for interviews and in-depth conversations and many more are planned…check back often!

Our Fireside Technique video series offers short, detailed how-to videos geared towards helping artists improve their work. We often take some of our more technical topics from our Fireside podcast and film an in-depth, narrated, time-lapsed video showing exactly how Jake or our featured artists handle certain issues.

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Drawing for Tattoo Design

Your tattoo designs starting to feel stagnant? Feel like you’re not progressing? Drawing is the single most important piece of the tattoo process. No level of technical tattoo skill can overcome bad composition and draftsmanship.

Fireside Tattoo Network simplifies the tattoo design process with the Fireside Method. By focusing on the principles of Shape, Value, Edge and Color, we help you identify and solve your biggest challenges early in the design process.

The Fireside Method:

Check out some of our podcast episodes as well!

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