How to Learn to Draw a Tattoo

Written by tiffany mccormack
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How to Learn to Draw a Tattoo
Use geometric principles to create designs for any part of the body. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

For centuries, cultures around the world developed complex rites of passage with tattoos, in many cases permanent tattoos, marking the transition. Tattoos have become accessible to people outside tribal ties, although a tattoo to mark tribal affiliation and a rite of passage is still popular. Any picture or design can be tattooed permanently on skin. Arguably the most compelling tattoos are the ancient and bold geometric designs from people such as the Maori and Celts. Geometric designs are a starting point when learning how to draw a tattoo.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Tracing paper

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  1. 1

    Find simple geometric designs that are of interest to you. Designs are everywhere, from borders on book covers to doodles on old notebooks, design books created expressly for permanent and non-permanent tattoos, such as henna tattoos, and the Internet. The trick is to find designs with varying levels of complexity and with easily discernible repetitive shapes.

  2. 2

    Select the easiest design among the designs you found. Choose one that is bold and consists of simple shapes. Trying to draw a photograph or image is not necessarily a good starting point.

  3. 3

    Place tracing paper over the design, and trace the design. An alternative is simply to look at the design and draw it freehand. Everyone has her own style, but drawing a rough outline first is useful in learning the design. Use the fundamentals of geometry: Locate the simple shapes, lines and angles in order to get a feel for the design's symmetry.

  4. 4

    Practice drawing, and gradually choose more complex designs to draw. Draw the same designs that you like over and over until you can start drawing straight on skin without the help of tracing paper.

Tips and warnings

  • A good starting point for applying ink on skin is to draw concentric circles while not aiming at perfection, and link the circles with other concentric circles in order to cover a particular area of skin, such as the top of a hand.
  • Drawing on skin is very different from drawing on paper, and designs tend to stretch or shrink depending on where they are placed on skin.

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