Mini-Class: Beautiful Ink: Designing Meaningful Tattoos | Bang Bang | Skillshare

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Mini-Class: Beautiful Ink: Designing Meaningful Tattoos

teacher avatar Bang Bang, Tattoo artist, owner of Bang Bang NYC

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Inspiration and Research


    • 3.



    • 4.

      Prepping for Production


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About This Class

While the end result of a tattoo gets all of the shine, the initial design is perhaps the most important part of the process. A great tattoo design combines aesthetic beauty with personal meaning, permanently displaying a piece of one's personality or beliefs for the world to see (and in some cases, not see!). As a designer, it is important to be flexible with styles and have an understanding of how to make a tattoo look amazing, regardless of distance and years of aging. Through sharing my experience and demonstrating some techniques, I hope to teach you how to accomplish all of this!

This class covers the following topics:

  • Foundation for a great tattoo design - establishing the direction, style, and placement for the design, researching images that will guide the sketch
  • Sketching the concept - illustrating the results of the research, taking placement and execution into account
  • Prepping for production - finalizing the sketch for body application or temporary tattoo printing  

Please note that this class is about Tattoo Design, and it IS NOT intended to teach you how to tattoo. We will briefly go over the tattooing process so you can get the whole picture, but we do not advise that you try this at home.

This class is for anyone interested in the world of tattoo design, whether you are someone who is interested in getting a tattoo or your own, someone looking to design tattoos for others, are are simply looking for a new challenge to apply your creative skills.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Bang Bang

Tattoo artist, owner of Bang Bang NYC


My name is Bang Bang and I have been tattooing for about 10 years now. After coming up in the industry by studying with some of the greats, I have been able to build my own shop and establish a viable business in the Lower East Side of New York City. My styles range from photo realistic to Japanese, as I try to be a jack of all trades so I can successfully execute all of my clients' visions. Fortunately some of my designs on notable individuals like Rihanna, Cara Delevingne, Justin Bieber, and Thierry Henry have gotten a lot of press, but I put my all into every piece, celeb or not!

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4. Inspiration and Research: - My name is Bang Bang. - Welcome my studio in Lower East Side of Manhattan. - Today we're gonna do a training video on how to design a tattoo. - We won't be teaching any application today, - and I don't advise that you do it at home. - But you can spend as much time as you need designing your tattoo and taking it to a - professional artist. - Or you can refer to the project guy. - She can turn it into a temporary tattoo you can take home. - The first step to designing a tattoo is gonna be the consultation. - We're gonna talk with the client and see what she wants to get where she wants to put it. - Talk about skin tones, - Talk about age, - about all those things we need to be thinking about how the ANC's going to settle in the - skin through time on. - And when talking about design, - we gotta figure out. - Most importantly, - what looks good when you're designing a tattoo and during your consultation talking to your - client you will be able to figure out their body parts and, - uh, - talk specifically about the design they want to get and how it fits to the body. - Sometimes the body part doesn't allow just any image. - Toe work sometimes need to get specific on the design for the body parts. - So we're gonna go through that with her and see what works for. - We're gonna bring in Maria Padilla. - Who is the lucky girl gonna get tattooed today and let's see what we're gonna dio. - How you feeling? - Excited. - Right. - This your first time first. - Okay. - How long? - Wanted to get tattooed, - actually. - See inside What? - 17. - Okay, - where do you think you want to put it? - Well, - I'm gonna bring my finger because, - well, - I know him because you do tattoos in the finger, - and so it's perfect for me because I can, - you know, - like, - hide it. - I suppose you could hide it pretty easily with jewelry. - Or exactly. - That's pretty excellent. - As far as the design, - we're gonna do a lion. - What do you thinking? - What does that lion mean to you? - Okay, - well, - I'm a Leo, - so I know that I'm strong person and I'm from Venezuela, - And people there are so independent. - And I grew up being interdependent girl because you know, - the girls not always like that. - I always loved lions because They're like that. - They're really tough and they have power. - So I think I have that. - And I'm a Leo. - So? - So it's the perfect. - Yeah, - Alright. - What? - We got the meaning. - Let's figure out a way toe, - get the visuals. - Which hand do you think you want to do it with your hands? - Which side do you feel like? - It's the one you want to wear it on. - Just that one is your first tattoo. - Where's it going? - Right. - How does it feel? - Like it already belongs. - The right hand. - Right hand? - Yes. - All right. - Cool. - Um, - well, - I'll tell you that in our design of this one, - it's it's small. - So we're gonna do a micro Porcher it we're going to simplify it so that it works on your - finger. - Your finger is not nearly as big a Z even mind. - It's not as big as your arm. - So we're gonna we're gonna make it. - We're designing for your body part. - So I'm gonna look for a line that has all these features that aren't too long. - I should look for one. - That's faces is just short enough toe work on yours where we could get all the main around - it, - too, - because it's not just his face. - We gotta do Teoh show line. - We have to have the hair around it. - So we're gonna We're gonna go all around that finger and we'll go up to your knuckling down - , - you know, - will take it as much room as we can so that it fits the body part, - and it feels like it's a part of you, - not a stamper stick. - Okay. - All right. - Almost. - Oh, - yeah, - I just need 7. Sketching: All right, So this is the second lesson. We've done our research, and we know which images were going to use. I chose four images for this tattoo, and we're going to start with the real photos. So first of all, I love him. I really think that, um, in rendering a tattoo, we really need strong contrast. We really need a dark side on the light side of his face. It's what's really going to sell your eye. Thio Thio three d shape. Um, so I printed him out pretty much just for the lighting on his face. And the 2nd 1 is same thing. It's a straight on picture of a lion. And this one I chose because of the area specific thing we're doing is we're going to do a micro portrait on a finger and her fingers not too big. So his face is a little shorter than this guy. Um, so I really chose him to fit the body part. So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna trace this just the map on his face. I'm gonna draw his hair a little bit flowing, and we'll get to that in a second. Um, and I'm gonna use his shape on their use, His lighting, this next one. I printed out a painting of a lion. A lot of times when you're gonna render something, it can help to see what it looks like already rendered in art. So you have the photography, and now I have some ones version of it rendered as a painting, and it's just it's gonna help from my lighting. It's gonna help from my drawing. It seems like the nose is a little darker here, which helps me catch nose, eyes, mouth really clean, really easy. And that helps for the simplicity of this piece. It's gonna have those really strong contest points, and it can't have the full detail off a real photo for this. Um, now a couple issues with the three that we've already looked at our that their manes air really, really stiff. There's not great lighting in this. They're just really frizzy and combed out, and I don't want to do that. I want to do a little bit more flow. So I printed this one and now this one is our final image. And this is a statue or a sculpture of a fountain. But the great part about this is they moved the main a ton and it feels a little more flowing the faces and is good for what we're gonna be doing here. Um, though any time you can get one single light source on a three d object when you render that in the skin, it really helps translate. Really well, so So we're gonna use those three, and we're gonna call for the tattoo. We're pretty much going to just take that piece and trace it up and you'll see me just kind of drawing a little bit of flow for the main. So it's not so stiff. Let's get to it. When I start, I start with eyes. I don't really know why, but, um, I had a teacher once. That said, If you nail the eyes, everything else could be awful. And it's perfect. Now this I does never much black in it. So compensate for that and just added in so that they match since we're doing kind of us kind of a tattoo with a lot of symmetry. Then, with a straight on face, I tried to go as much from the photos I can. But every once in a while just improvised a little spit. I try not to do too much improvising, because the more you do them or the more I find that I make it look a little cartoony. So try to stick to it as much as we can and keep that stuff to a minimum. Um, Carson Now those are mapped. A perfect. I'm just gonna move on to the edges of knows. Now. I can't see this edge very well. Consent A dark place. But I could see the other one. So just trying to match him a little bit. And on features like that, it's kind of okay if they're a little bit off, If I needed them so perfect, I would fold it in half and trace from the side. I can see, but since it's something in nature, you know nothing super perfect. So we really have to be too crazy about that when you're doing something small and realistic. Really, Black is really important. It's the most important thing, really. In in any tattoo. Um, if you get your black shapes correct, then you nailed it. Now with this, I can't do every single little hair. So I'm just going to kind of map the way I'm gonna move my needle toe, leave a couple little gaps so that your eye assumes that's how the hair ends. So again, a little bit of, ah, exaggeration for the tattoo eye shadows. They're so important for tattoos. You gotta fully I have to exaggerate these shapes. Um, if you want to make something close first you have to make something for away. So you have to establish ah, black point so that you can establish skin as your closest piece. And in this case, this section is our closest piece. So I've gotta put a shadow under his chin just like it is in this photo to make his head feels like it's coming out. I have to put a shadow on the side of his face so that it feels like a light sources here, so it feels like his head is rounding out. This one doesn't have it as much. It has the shadow under him, but not not that he's really just a light source straight above him. This when I feel like I like it better, a little bit off to the side with a finger, so I don't have that much room to work with. I need that face to really take up much room as possible. So I really only have up here and then the little bit of the sides to establish this is hair and hair should flow. General rule one tattooing is the bigger it is, the better it looks today. We don't have that luxury, so we're gonna still make sure it looks great at the size we're gonna do with that. When you're designing the stuff from scratch, you have to find what's beautiful in it. And here you really just have to trace with beautiful. So it's like you're set up for success by, um by working from nature when you're looking through your own images designing your own tattoo, think about contrast to think about simple shapes as detailed as the lion. Maybe if you can recognize it very small at a distance, probably a good one. If you can't, it's probably not the right 11. Prepping for Production: - you're gonna upload your designed to skill share and share it via instagram hashtag make - our mark after you upload your designs myself with some of the station to station, - artists will pick the top three to place into a time capsule. - After your designs are done, - you can take your design to a professional artist or you could refer to the Project guy. - You can turn it into a temporary tattoo you can take home. - So in designing your tattoo for your body part, - I printed out a few images on each one of these images. - Has something I'm looking for when it comes to designing the tattoo. - Really important thing is contrast, - so we need really rich black points. - Good mid tones When you really great light turns, - we also need really great shape. - Since we already have a predetermined size and shape that we have to do this tattoo, - we have to alter the image of that fits your body. - So first of all, - this one felt great. - It's a little more exaggerated than I will tattoo it, - but I'll be working between two of those four shape and chased, - so this little guy is a map of his face. - And again when you're designing a tattoo, - something that's really important is how you map it out. - Let's for a stencil on you and let you see how it feels. - OK, - OK, - which cleaner? - Skin off. - Now I'm just gonna ply the stencil to you. - We'll see how it looks in your body. - Okay? - I'm gonna try to make it a so large as possible as well as we do with any tattoo is largest - we can while still looking So we don't make it too big for your body for a small, - much as we can use, - especially for the amount of detail were put in such a small area. - Bigger, - Better screamed I know know won't hurt. - Okay, - There's always some changes from paper to skin. - OK, - and that's it. - Well, - let it drive for a little bit on, - then we'll start