by Jake Meeks –
Topics: Tattoo Techniques, Needle Groupings, Lining, Fireside Techniques
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So when it comes to large, flowing, organic work I like to start with a loose marker drawing. It allows me to be quicker in my approach of laying down shapes on the skin in a much more natural way. As I’m blocking in the shapes, I focus more on sculpting the dark and light values rather than focusing on making clean, defined line-work.
Here we are on the first pass. The important part here when working with a magnum is to block in your darks and lights. You want to address any problems or questions the values bring up in this stage so that when you’re adding color later it easily flows in place. The goal is to get a rough value study down, leaving your edges soft and a little loose, similar to a charcoal drawing.
Moving onto color now, since all my value problems were solved with the black, it was just a matter of glazing right over the tattoo with lots of muted tones to give life to the tree. From there, the background is then glazed right on as well, paying close attention to the positive and negative values as they approach the tree to avoid making the piece too crowded and busy.
With the color laid in there, now comes the liner. During this phase of the tattoo, I’ll look at the piece as a whole and identify where my darkest darks are needed to help boost the contrast. Even the smallest black line across a field of grays will drastically change the relationship of all those tones. This makes the brighter ones jump more forward while sinking those more muted tones deeper into the background.
So trying this magnum first approach to tattooing is an opportunity to break out of the mold a bit and experiment with your techniques. Try different ways that you may not have thought about doing and see if you end up liking it; always try to challenge yourself as an artist and step out of your comfort zone every now and then.
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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 Tattoo Overview video series offers informative, short, and detailed videos geared towards helping artists understand the science and nuances of tattoos and make more informed decisions to improve their work. We often take some of our more technical topics from our Fireside podcast and film an in-depth, narrated, time-lapse video showing exactly how Jake or our featured artists handle certain issues.
Tattoo technique is, no doubt, an art of its own. Like any skill or trade, tattooing has been closely guarded by tattooers throughout modern history. We take a different approach here at Fireside. Our goal is to embrace the information age by making a conscious effort to help artists of all skill levels solve their technical tattoo challenges.
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