A Tutorial of Face Tattoos in Photoshop

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A Tutorial of Face Tattoos in Photoshop
Artists who tattoo faces in Hawaii may be jailed or fined. (Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

The act of getting a facial tattoo is deemed such a serious undertaking that giving one is banned in Hawaii, with the exception of trained physicians or tattoo artists under the supervision of a licensed doctor, according to the Permanent Makeup Society. While going under the needle for the sake of art may be nearly outlawed in some areas, inking up your face with a graphic design program is not. Use Adobe Photoshop to apply facial tattoos to a photograph and experiment with a new look without risking any pain or trouble with the law.

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Tools

Unlike those of a real tattoo parlour, tattoo instruments in Photoshop cause no pain, scarring, bleeding or permanent harm. What they do is give you a way to experiment with your own facial tattoos on-screen. The two tools you'll use most are the "Brush Tool" -- Photoshop's version of a paintbrush -- and the "Pencil Tool." Each works in the same way and you choose the one you're most comfortable with. Both are located on the same icon square of the "Tools" column in the work area. For a facial tattoo, select a very fine tip on the tool's menu sizer. One helpful, but not so obvious, tool is located on the menu sizer toolbar. Slide the "Opacity" bar slightly to the left -- lower than 100 per cent - to make the paint appear slightly translucent, as it would after being actually inked onto the skin, rather than appear like a solid swath of paint.

Colours

Tattoo artists work by dipping their needles into a small palette of colour and fighting their way through layers of the skin. In Photoshop, you choose from thousands of colours in the "Color Picker," located at the bottom of the "Tools" column. For a black facial tattoo, such as Mike Tyson's, Photoshop offers controls to ensure you get the exact shade of black desired. For more intricate looks, such as Lizard Man, simply click back and forth through the colours to draw elements such as scales, fur or patterns on the face. Unlike a tattoo parlour, you actually can choose your exact shade, colour, hue or number of colour. Colours of the PANTONE rainbow are available if you're trying to match a Bengal Tiger's paw print, for example, with the team's actual colour.

Options

Because you're working in Photoshop, real-life tattoo considerations, such as bones, facial hollows, scar tissue, pain, thin skin and unavailability of exact ink colour, are non-issues. Instead, a world of options awaits. You'll need to consider what kind of tattoo -- such as an all-consuming inking like Mike Tyson's or the Cat Lady, or something small or realistic Some people get facial tattoos to look like permanent make-up, such as eyeliner and lipstick.

Considerations

There is no permanency to a Photoshop facial tattoo as long as you remember to resave the photo with a new name or version number. Simply clicking the "Save" button in the "File" menu overwrites the original, meaning you won't be able to access it without the tattoo. One way to prevent this is to immediately save a new copy upon opening the photo. For example, click the "File" menu, click "Open," browse to the image to add the facial tattoo onto and double-click it. Once it appears on the Photoshop screen, click "File" again, click "Save As," type a new name or a version number and click "Save." Then, go about working your picture with a clear conscience.

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