For the past two decades of my tattoo career, I've been using Adobe Photoshop as an essential part of my workflow in everything from design compositing to portfolio page layout. It's been such an important tool that I've included it in the core of my Reinventing The Tattoo educational package since its first edition back in the late Nineties. The current electronic edition of Reinventing was recently edited to bring it up to date with today's version of Photoshop, with plenty of tools and tricks specifically intended for the tattoo artist's workflow.
If there is one thing I've learned about Photoshop, it's this- Every Photoshop user will have something to teach you. I recently watched a new video by Halo of Black Lotus Tattoos in Maryland called Reinvent Yourself: In Depth Photoshop for the Tattoo Artist. It's also meant specifically to be useful for tattoo artists, but he's got a whole range of tricks that I'd never heard of in 20 years of using Photoshop. It's an in-depth tutorial that shows you a live screen capture of a number of demonstrations, all which are useful for use in tattoo design. He covers subjects such as:
- Basics even for a beginner
- Learning each tool step by step
- Correcting very poor references
- Manipulating photos for tattoo designs
- Making caricatures of people
- Merging two photos to make one
- Painting out unwanted background
- Endless color choices
- Making a perfect ink palette from a reference
- Making a flawless stencil to save time and stencil ink
It's a downright useful tutorial and will give you a lot of bang for your buck- Halo has taken not only his experience but all the stuff that he learned in a digital art college course that he thinks is the most useful to tattoo artists, and distilled it down into an hour and forty minutes of smoothly produced information. You can even open the DVD on your desktop and then open Photoshop right next to it, and try out the things that he's demonstrating. I highly recommend Reinvent Yourself for all Photoshop users- even if you have lots of practical experience with Photoshop, I assure you you'll learn something from this course. We've got in in stock now in our online store.
Reinvent Yourself is a great compliment to a DVD set we already carry: Get Digital, by Mike DeVries and Jamie Parker. Get Digital covers a lot of fundamentals, but approaches it much differently than Reinvent Yourself. It's geared toward projects such as business cards and banners that can be of immediate use in your practice, along with many great tricks for working with reference material. Save on shipping by ordering both DVDs, and you'll have a comprehensive library of Photoshop tricks and tools that is sure to get you up to speed and working with digital tools in a way that empowers you as a tattoo artist.
Back in the days of my apprenticeship, one of the first things I was asked to do was draw flash- twenty full pages of it before I would be allowed to pick up a machine. Flash drawing was a totally new skill for me to learn, and to make matters more complicated, my boss asked me to do the first set using ink washes, the black and white cousin of watercolor painting. It was an adventure to say the least, and a great learning experience that helped to prepare me for the steep learning curve of actual tattooing.
Drawing and painting flash remains an important skill, not only for apprentices but for any tattoo artist who wants to reach a wider audience than they can personally tattoo, or simply wants to share their own unique style with other artists (and possibly sell a few sets now and then!) So it's great news that Joe Swanson has made a detailed, comprehensive tutorial on painting tattoo flash step-by-step. The 2-DVD set, simply called Paint Tattoo Flash, covers every step from selecting the right materials to design transfer, inking, coloring and finishing touches, plus bonus sections on practice exercises and antiquing effects. The set comes with a small booklet that you can keep with you at your drawing table for a quick guide. It's a highly useful and practical tutorial, aimed at getting you functional from a point of starting with zero knowledge but still demonstrating some fairly advanced techniques, all for a very reasonable price. We've got it in stock now at the Tattoo Education online store!
While we are talking about watercolors I also wanted to mention Myke Chambers' Watercolor 101 DVD, which overlaps in a few places with the material in the Joe Swanson tutorial but also ventures into all kinds of other interesting places, working with a larger scale design, comparing watercolors with liquid acrylics, different methods of color blending and lining, and taking longevity into account. Both tutorials are highly recommended, and you can save on shipping by ordering them together. Learn all about watercolor techniques with these two great painting tutorials by experienced working tattoo artists. Drop by the Tattoo Education online store to find out more!