Strong Lines: Getting Comfortable with the Pilot Parallel Calligraphy Pen | Alice Young | Skillshare

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Strong Lines: Getting Comfortable with the Pilot Parallel Calligraphy Pen

teacher avatar Alice Young, Calligrapher & Designer

Watch this class and thousands more

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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.

      Your Pens


    • 3.

      Your Ink


    • 4.

      Your Paper


    • 5.

      Introduction to Exercises


    • 6.

      Exercise One


    • 7.

      Exercise Two


    • 8.

      Exercise Three


    • 9.

      Your Assignment


    • 10.

      Four Approaches


    • 11.

      Refining Your Work


    • 12.

      Finalizing Your Work


    • 13.

      Until Next Time!


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About This Class

In this class, you will:

» Learn to use a Pilot Parallel Pen

» Learn basic calligraphy strokes

» Design a tattoo

This is a hands-on introduction to the fun and versatile Pilot Parallel Pen. Using basic calligraphy strokes, we’ll work through exercises which demonstrate pen angle and develop rhythm while creating a series of marks you can work with when designing your own tattoo. Learners will be encouraged to create an original design, and given four approaches to use in designing their tattoo.

Although designed for beginning calligraphers, this class teaches skills which will enhance the work of illustrators, designers, typographers, tattoo artists, watercolour artists and anyone else who isn’t afraid of a little water-based ink on their fingers! Exercises and guidelines help break the process down and guide students along. No previous experience required, and body inking is totally optional! 

NOTE: This class is the first in a trilogy!

My approach is to teach pen skills and working with with coloured inks in two fun skillshare classes, as a prelude to lettering. The next two classes are: 

Strong Lines 2: Colour and Curves with the Pilot Parallel Pen; and

Strong Lines 3: The Gentle Gothics

Look forward to seeing you in class!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Alice Young

Calligrapher & Designer


Alice is a GDC Certified Graphic Designer, with 20 years of experience in design and communications. She spent a decade working in the studios of multi-national ad agencies (Leo Burnett, Publicis, BBDO) in Toronto, Canada before moving to Canada's west coast in 2000. She continues to work on local, national and international accounts, as a member of the team at Taiji Brand Group. Her specialties are typography and hand lettering.

Her love of letterforms carries through to her practice as a calligrapher and her work spans a broad range of applications - from commercial (logos and wordmarks) to just-for-fun (greeting cards) - to exploratory fine art (asemic calligraphy on canvas).

Her calligraphic paintings on canvas have been exhibited and sold internationally. Along with f... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hi, I'm Alice Young. I'm a GDC certified graphic designer and a calligrapher. The skill I want to share with you today is how to work with my favorite calligraphy tool, which is the Pilot Parallel Pen. I worked with a lot of pens, but this pen has a special place in my heart and groove in my finger. I loved this pen. It is a dream to work with. It's convenient, affordable, portable. You can throw it in your bag, take it anywhere. Also, it's a real workhorse. You can use it on many different surfaces and it's super versatile. I love this pen and I think you will too. I call my classes strong lines because this isn't to be confused with bridal invitation calligraphy. The Pilot Parallel Pen is a broad edge pen, sometimes called the flat pen, capable of strong graphic lines, and it is suitable for many applications in surfaces. At the same time, it produces great hair lines and flourishing. This first class will be an introduction to the Pilot Parallel Pen, and we will design a tattoo while learning basic calligraphy strokes. We'll work only with the blue black ink that comes with the pen, and your task will be to design an original tattoo using the strokes you learn in class. Your tattoo can be as simple as a few pen strokes or you can take this further and design a full sleeve tattoo. But ultimately, no experience is necessary and body inking is totally optional. There is such a lot of room for creativity here, and I'm already really excited about what you're going to create. I know you're going to blow me away, so grab your pens and let's go. Pilot Parallel Pen, Pilot Parallel Pen, Pilot Parallel Pen, say that three times fast. It's impossible. 2. Your Pens: Welcome and thank you for joining me. The Pilot Parallel Pen comes in four sizes. You can purchase them at our supply stores or online. I have posted a list of online sources in the discussions area of this class. We'll get started using the two largest sizes, the six millimeter pen with the blue cap and the 3.8 millimeter pen with the green cap. We are also going to use the blue black ink. A complete supply list can be found in the class notes. Please print those out along with the exercises and guides so you can follow along. You'll find those as attachments in the class project window. In the world of calligraphy pens the Pilot Parallel Pen can be considered new technology. What makes it unique is the two parallel metal plates that make up the nib and give this pen a very strong consistent flow of ink. As well the metal plates are super durable and don't wear down. The pen comes with little black plastic pen cleaner which slides between the metal plates for cleaning. One of the things that is great about this pen is that the nib section can be completely disassembled even down to the metal plates which slide out. This little blue piece comes off as well. You just want to make sure you put that back on correctly because there's an air chamber there that you want to match up to that little hole. But basically it comes apart so you can give the pen a really good cleaning not often necessary but a nice option to have. As long as you use the inks that come with the pen it can be washed simply with water. To fill the pen, hold the nib section slightly upward and simply insert the ink cartridge and push it straight in. You'll hear a little click as a small plastic tab that seals the ink breaks and you can put your pen back together. I totally recommend keeping the cartridges and cleaning them for future use. The pop we heard was the plastic tab breaking, it stays in the cartridge and keeps the metal ball inside. That metal ball is important for air bubbles and it helps with ink flow. To clean the cartridge, I generally soak it in water overnight and then submerge it and use a long neck pipette pushing it right down past that tab and flush it with water until the cartridge is clean. To get the ink flowing in a new pen may take a bit of patience, shake the pen a few times and dip the end in water. Usually the capillary action of the water will get the ink flow started. If not you can take your pen apart and lightly squeeze the cartridge to get the ink flowing but I usually try to avoid that. The cartridges are a little bit delicate so I try to get the pen going without doing that, it starting to come through but you can see it's not across the whole nib. Sometimes you need to use your little black pen cleaner and slide it between the plates. Get the ink moving between those two plates and just keep working with it. It's starting to come through and there we go. There you have ink flow and you're good to go. Some general tips for working with this pen, hold it comfortably resting the pen between your index and second finger with your smallest finger skimming across the paper and steadying your motion. Hold it quite vertically. Try not to grip tightly, keep your touch light and let the pen skate across the paper. Notice the nib has that little air vent, that should be on the top side of the pen. Pull strokes towards your body. If you are feeling resistance, do a little short back and forth mark to get a pool of ink on the paper. Avoid excessive pressure so just a little back and forth to get the ink flowing. That's much better than trying to use excessive pressure, and you can see the mark gets hidden in your pen stroke. The pen comes from the manufacturer in four sizes but some suppliers cut them down to smaller sizes. These are available at John Neal Booksellers in the US and they also have a radius cut pen which writes like a ruling pen or a cola pen, complete with the great splashes. If you are left-handed, John Neal also offers some resources for left-handed calligraphers including Pilot Parallel Pens cut on a diagonal especially for you. I can't demonstrate how a left-handed person works with this pen but I have included a list of resources in the class notes which I hope you find helpful. Once you have your pen working warm up by rotating the pen in your fingers to create a diamond shape. Practice getting pressure across the length of the nib and experiment with rotating to the thin side of the nib to create a comma. I warm up with commas and what I call inverted commas just diamond shapes where I rotate the pen to the corner to create a little tail. Play for a few minutes and I'll meet you in the next class to talk about ink. 3. Your Ink: I find ink captivating and I remember the moment I first discovered it when playing around with my older brother's ink drawing set. There have been years and even decades since then when I was too busy for ink or calligraphy. But I keep coming back to it. Ink is alive, it moves, it seems to have a will of its own. It's like having a fun and challenging creative partner, it sometimes does unexpected magical things adding to the creative process. Of course, it can also create its own little disasters. So it keeps life interesting. Which inks to use and which ones to avoid in the pilot parallel pen is a very large topic, we'll explore that more in a second class. For this class, we are going to keep it simple using the ink that comes with the pen. Generally, the pilot parallel pen comes with two ink cartridges; one red, one blue-black. I've purchased a few sets where the black was just the regular black, which is okay, you can work with that too. The end of the blue-black cartridge looks a little purple compared to the regular black, which is shown here on the right. They look similar when you write, but the blue-black tints to a cool effect that we'll use later in this class. The first work we'll be doing is pen exercises so you can use any pilot parallel pen ink you have for those. If you want to change colors, remove the ink cartridge and submerge the entire nib section in water, where you can flush the pen with the rubber converter before switching to the other color. But you'll notice tons of ink comes out and is wasted. I try to avoid that and prefer a more relaxed approach where I simply add a new cartridge and enjoy the color changes, the old ink gets used up and the next one appears. Sometimes the color change is interesting, sometimes it's muddy, but I can use all the ink for practice work or layouts and I don't worry about the color. But occasionally, you might need to rinse a pen like this. Here's a tip. If you have an ink cartridge that is not used up and you need to change your color, you can use a kneadable eraser to cap the unused cartridge. Just pull off a small piece and press it onto the end. Then place the cartridge in a small container where it can stand upright. A shot glass is the perfect size. This is not a permanent seal, but it does keep the ink from evaporating so you can use it later. The important thing about ink, of course, is how well it partners with your paper. We'll talk about that in the next video lesson. 4. Your Paper: Paper choice has a big impact on the results of your calligraphy. Successful calligraphy is going to be the result of marrying the right ink to the right paper. There are so many paper and ink possibilities that it can be confusing and overwhelming. Let's explore how pilot parallel pen ink works on various papers. Usually, one of the first challenges calligraphy students encounter is bleed, which is when the ink spreads from your pen stroke and feathers out into the page. The red ink that comes with the pilot parallel pen is especially prone to bleed, so we'll use it for this demonstration. It is not my favorite ink, so I use it up when I practice. Let's zoom in and look at four papers that you might logically try. The first would be card stock. It would make sense to head out to your favorite art supply store and pick up some card stock or pre-cut cards and assume you can create something fabulous on it. Probably to your disappointment, you will find out it usually bleeds quite badly. Another one that you would expect to work would be paper for pens. But I have bought so many papers under this description only to be very disappointed. Some might work, but I no longer buy paper for Pens. Office bond, something you might have around your house might actually be better than the two above depending on the quality that you have. But it is still not great, and yet I sometimes use it for practice anyways. I know it is going to bleed a little bit, but since it's just practice that's okay. Pastel paper, often it starts out looking as if it's going to be great. Notice the fine thin line that I got right there. But with a little bit of time, this red ink will bleed. You can see it's starting to bleed right there. It's okay there where there's not much ink laid down, but where the ink is heavier it does bleed. Some inks do well on this pastel paper but not the red. What can you use? Let's look at some paper possibilities. My paper suggestions, what I've found to work best are in the class notes. Here are four of those papers and will make the same mark with the same ink. This is bleed proof marker paper. Sometimes you might see it labeled as 100 percent rag marker paper, and you'll see that it takes the pen quite nicely. It is also translucent, which is great for this class. Premium inkjet paper. This is what I commonly use for practice, and I'm going to recommend you use in this class. You may find it bleeds occasionally a tiny bit, but really it is quite minimal and certainly for practice, it is just a convenient and affordable paper to use. Clairefontaine is a fine French paper and it is just a dream to work on. It's a beautiful paper and a really bright white. You can even pull the ink up quite heavily and it won't spread out into the paper, it will stay contained within your mark. You can also get really great fine hairlines and they stay crisp and clean. It's just great to work on. Another great paper is your hot press watercolor paper. Of course, it is too expensive for everyday use but it will give you beautiful thin hairlines and crisp edges. It is what I use for commissions, I look for lighter weights so I can see guidelines through it. We will be using guidelines in this class and you'll find those as printable PDF attachments in the class project window. I've set it up so you have two choices. You'll notice that I have provided guidelines both as a dark version and also as a lighter version. Your first option is to print the lighter version on premium inkjet paper and then you can work directly on the page writing over top of the light guides. Your second option is to use the dark guidelines with a translucent paper. Bleedproof marker papers come in different levels of transparency. Look for the one that works for you. This copic bleedproof marker paper is a really nice paper. It's not that translucent but you can see through it. Then, there is the bienfang rag marker paper, which is much more translucent. Another option is to look around your house and see if you have some good quality tracing paper. Canson makes a tracing paper that doesn't bleed too much. Even if it does bleed slightly, we are practicing. You don't have to use your best papers for practice, use what you have around. Depending where you live, you may have different papers available. Don't be afraid to experiment and find papers that work for you. Paper choice can be personal, so I can only offer my paper suggestions with the expectation that they will work for you. You may see that I'm partial to clear fontaine, and it also comes in books. If you're on the move, this might work for you. Also, if you are used to working with grids, you might really like this clear print translucent velum which has a grid pattern. Grids are helpful if you want to create a symmetrical design. We'll set up a discussion about papers in the discussions area of this class so people can share other papers that they find work well. You might want to cut or tear your paper into smaller pieces to avoid smearing your previous work and to make the best use of your paper. Working on smaller pieces, you can set them aside to dry. You can also use a hairdryer set too low to speed the ink drying process. One final tip, sometimes the oil in our skin can affect paper as well. It's a good idea to wash hands before you start. Also, use a guard sheet to protect work that has dried. Gather your papers and I'll see you in the next class where the fun begins. 5. Introduction to Exercises: So quite a few of you are reading this title and thinking of all the really good reasons you can skip this part. That's what I'd be thinking too. Don't do it. This unit is a bit like going to the gym, and the results of sticking with it will be just as dramatic. When you practice calligraphy, you are training your muscle memory just as you do with other repetitive skills like playing the piano or dancing. Each time we engage in repetitive practice, we're laying down neural pathways in the brain until the motion becomes natural to us. How you approach this practice will have a lot to do with your success in calligraphy. It's a mistake to brush through it, thinking of all the other things you should be doing. Rather, approach it as you would meditation, relaxed, quiet, deliberate. The benefits are similar to meditation. Calligraphy can help you relax, reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and stabilize emotions, so it is time well-spent. Play good music, or give yourself the rare gift of complete silence. Personally, I find music extremely important to my calligraphy. In fact, for the most stressful calligraphy projects, I choose my background music very carefully. I've written the names of presidents, prime ministers, and the Dalai Lama in hardcover government books in preparation for their signatures. With that kind of pressure, I always play music to relax and prepare for that process. For more energetic or expressive calligraphy, I'll set myself up with music that matches the mood that I want to create. Also, be kind to yourself. If you do in stroke that is less than perfect, notice I do the same thing in these demos, just carry on. Don't waste energy mentally lecturing yourself, but do try to see where your stroke went wrong, and try to focus on making the next one a tiny bit better. Repeat exercises that seemed difficult until they become easy. I invite you to put on your favorite music, and join me in these exercises. 6. Exercise One: Here we are with class 1, exercise 1. I've printed the guidelines out on the premium inkjet paper that I suggested. Then I have another piece of paper underneath just to make a more comfortable, softer writing surface. I have my usual setup here which is water in a container and the pen cleaner just in case I get a fiber in my pen, paper towel, and I'd like to have a soft cloth rag nearby just in case. So the first thing I'd like to do is put my pen down, sitting comfortably, feet on the floor, put my pen in the place that feels most comfortable. Then I'm going to shift my entire work area. I'll move everything to make sure I'm really working in that sweet spot where my arm wants to be, that will give me the most natural line. This first exercise will help establish your understanding of pen angle. Your pen angle is the degree of rotation between the flat surface of the nib and the horizontal baseline. I've indicated the pen angle to be used on the left side of each line. I've set this up so the guides are meant to be in the center of each pen stroke. I've put my pen down and I see I have ink flow. If you put your pen down and you don't get a mark right away, touch the pen to the surface of water and you'll see that the ink will get drawn down. If your pen is really dry, you might have to dip it further, but usually just touching it will bring the ink forward. Then I'd like to blot that on a paper towel just to get rid of any excess water. Then with the guide in the middle, you want to draw the pen straight down, lock that zero degree pen angle in and draw or drag the pen straight down. I say draw because the motion is coming out of your shoulder. At this size, you don't want the motion coming out of your wrist, you'll get a much smoother line if it is coming out of the shoulder and then move on to the curved lines. Relax and breathe. We're just doing warm up here, just getting your arm, hand and shoulder used to these motions. Move down the page, adjusting your pen angle on each line. Lock the angle in and try to keep it consistent all the way down the stroke while keeping even pressure across the width of the nib. This page doesn't necessarily have to be finished in one sitting, revisit it on consecutive days for best results. But also notice how much better you work once you get a rhythm going and your arm is warmed up. You may want to adjust your arm for the last line because it uses a 90-degree pen angle, you'll probably find it is easier to turn the paper sideways. I'm working with a smaller piece of paper here, just attaching it to the guide sheet with some white paper tape, any removable tape will work, so I can move the guide and the paper together. If we were working on larger surfaces doing calligraphy on a wall, for instance, we would move our entire body to get the right stroke. Here we can easily move the paper. On a final curve note that I'll get the best results by joining two curves on the thinnest part of the stroke. When you've done exercise 1 to your own satisfaction, you can move on to exercise 2. 7. Exercise Two: On this second exercise sheet, I've started you off by suggesting a 45-degree pen angle at the top of the page. But after that, you're left to determine the pen angle on your own. You can see the pen angle by matching the flat edge of your nib to the thin lines on the exercise. This large chain shape, simple as it looks, can be quite challenging. As you do it, focus on keeping your hand light with motion coming from your shoulder. Notice that it is easier to join two strokes on a thin line than a thick one. Adjust your page whenever necessary so your arm, hand, and shoulder can work well together. Don't be afraid to go back and retouch. Notice the way I work here might seem erratic, but, in fact, I'm making decisions of what stroke to do next by focusing on pen angle and rhythm. I am searching for the best angles, the best places to put my hand for each stroke. As you work smaller, the motion will shift to come out of your wrist with less shoulder action. But if you continue to keep your shoulder and elbow free, not locked in place, they will help you make micro adjustments needed for a smoother stroke. I love this simple, elegant leaf or bird pattern, but notice how I'm not doing a great job here of keeping the angle the same all the way down. If you're used to working on a computer, you'll mentally be looking around for the step and repeat function. It's not there. Stick with it, and see if you can do better than I did. Notice you flip the page to do the opposite side, but the challenge to be consistent will remain. By the time you get to the end of this page, you have definitely earned some playtime. Have fun with this ornament. You use the narrow edge of the nib to create the stroke ending. Again, as you work, move the page as necessary to create each stroke. Take a break, and then load up your 3.8-millimeter pen, and I'll see you in exercise three. 8. Exercise Three: The exercises on this page are based on the 3.8 millimeter pen. They are similar to what we've been doing, just slightly more challenging. I've grouped them quite tightly on the page so you may want to do this one on several smaller pieces of paper. If you try to fill out one page, you run the risk of smudging your work. I won't say a lot about this page, I would like you to really sync your way through it, and keep in mind all the lessons from the previous videos. This video gives visual clues and I will just add an occasional comment. You probably recognize this stroke as being related to black letter or gothic calligraphy. My favorite variant of that style is fraktur, meaning broken, because the strokes are fractured. You can see that here in the pen lifts between each stroke. Notice the little back and forth hover that I do on the second element just before putting the pen down, right here. It looks like hesitation, but it is a subconscious motion I make while seeking to get the perfect spot to put the pen down. You may find it helpful to do an exaggerated version of this and make some strokes in the air before you put your pen down on the paper. At this point, I really hope you are feeling a great sense of accomplishment. Give yourself a pat on the back for getting here. You now have a library of strokes that you can build on and width to create your tattoo design. We'll start on that in the next video lesson. 9. Your Assignment: Now, using the awesome pen skills you have just learned, I invite you to design a tattoo and share it here on Skillshare. The only requirement is that all the lines come from the Pilot Parallel Pen, but remember that also includes the side of the pen that creates fine lines. These are samples just hinting at possibilities. Your tattoo can be simple, a few pen strokes, or as complex as you wish to make it. You could build something like this up into a full sleeve tattoo. I really look forward to seeing what you create. In the next video, we'll look at four different approaches to get you going. 10. Four Approaches: You may have enrolled in this class with a clear idea of what you want to create, or you might have no idea where to begin. No worries, because I have four approaches to suggest. Work with the one that feels right for you. Number 1, build on your own art doodles and sketches. This one only works, of course, if you are an artist, a doodler, or keep a sketchbook, but that covers a lot of people here on Skillshare. For those of you who fit in this category, you probably already have your own creative process. Feel free to follow it as you complete the class and upload your work. Here's an example of how I adopted my own work to tattoo design. I create abstract calligraphic paintings on canvas. They are asemic, meaning they have no semantic meaning. You can see how my idea for a tattoo design evolved quite naturally out of my own style. Look at your style. What have you created that might be adopted to make your own unique tattoo. Number 2, fill in a shape. This second approach will work especially well if you are designing a tribal style tattoo. I have provided shapes you may want to work with in the exercises and guides, PDFs, or you can create your own shapes keeping in mind where the tattoo will be located on your body. I had fun with this one and started by filling in one of the shapes. It was casual and spontaneous, but it is really just a sketch and it needed refinement. In the next video, I'll show you how I refined it into two different tattoo designs. Number 3, find a reference you love and change it up. This approach offers untold possibilities. Inspiration is all around us. Notice what attracts you, what speak strongly to you. Choose your images carefully and be sure to respect copyright. Use copyright-free material, or if you love something that is copyrighted, be sure to change it up, make it unique, make it yours. Look at other well-done tattoo designs, not to copy but for inspiration. Look at nature, architecture, and vintage designs, photograph or sketch possibilities and then rework it into your own design. I've always been drawn to typographic ornaments, but some of the most interesting ones are copyrighted. Here's a sample where I reworked an ornament with calligraphic lines. The end result has evolved quite far from the original and become its own unique design and yet you can still clearly see the influence of its source. Number 4, explore your cultural roots. This approach is the most personal. Every culture has a visual language. What is the language of yours? Many of us have mixed heritages. I happen to be German, Swiss, and Irish. Mixing and combining visuals from those cultures could be interesting. At the same time, I'm also drawn to and strongly influenced by Asian aesthetics. What is your mixed bag of influences? Look to the architecture, fabrics, folk art, patterns, and motifs of your ancestry. Could they be redrawn with a calligraphic line? Could they be combined or connected in new ways. Have fun with this one and create something as unique and individual as you are. Using one of these approaches, start sketching with your pen. With ink, your gestures are an important aspect of the design and not every gesture will be a good one. I confess, I've always wanted to be one of those designers who sketched up a perfect little thumbnail and then executed it. But realistically, first, I make a mess. Here are some of the early marks I made, a bit disastrous but for me anyway, it is just the beginning of the creative journey, persevere, experiment, explore. Keep in mind that anything done by hand will have slight imperfections and inconsistencies. In my mind, that keeps it natural. However, if you are a perfectionist, you may find this annoys you. If you have computer skills, you can consider taking this to a digital file, but I assure you something will be lost. The whole purpose of this class is to develop your skills to a degree where you can create natural, imperfect beauty by hand. At this stage, it is often helpful to step away from your work and then return to it with fresh eyes. I like to hang rough work on the wall so I can see it from across the room or catch it out of the corner of my eye as I pass. Those moments when you're not entirely focused on it can yield great insights or ideas of what to try next. This is especially helpful at the moments when you are feeling frustrated or stalled in your progress. Stick with it and when you have something that shows potential, move on to the next class where we will look at refining our designs. 11. Refining Your Work: In this video, we'll look at the process of refining your design. Clearly when you're using ink, erasing isn't an option. Here's where the translucent paper has become really helpful. Using consecutive layers of translucent paper, we can rework our designs, making subtle improvements each time. Here I am redrawing. Notice I'm not tracing this design exactly, I'm redrawing it, keeping the basic shape but changing lines, adding more energy, life and movement through the pen strokes. Remember you can use both sizes of your pen here and just go in and tweak and change, shake it up, have fun with this. If you go too far and overwork it, go back to earlier versions and proceed from there. Take your time remembering this video is time-lapse. I usually work quite slowly and carefully. It's great to document your progress, so don't forget to take lots of photos to share with our class and with other friends. As you work, keep basic design principles in the back of your mind and consider how well you are utilizing them. Notice where you might need more of one and less of another. Now let's look at the freestyle tattoo I demonstrated in the last video and focus in on what works and what doesn't. This is a good starting point, but a few areas don't work. This thin line is out of proportion, and this last shape that I drew in doesn't fit the overall pattern. There are areas that I like, perhaps right in here, but I'm not so sure about this little shape, and I do like some of the things that are happening here. So basically this still needs quite a bit of work. I also reduced it down to have a look at how it might look at actual size and I see that I really don't want all that space in the center. So with this one for reference, let's see what else we can do. I'll just show you some of the things that I worked through. The first ones weren't necessarily successful. I tried a few things, working with a translucent paper over top of the original design. I was trying to see if this symmetry would work here, but instead it worked better to flip the design, repeating some but not all of the elements on both sides. The translucent paper allows you to turn it over and then work again, and after about a half dozen attempts, I was almost there. There's just a few odd spaces in this pattern. It's not quite even enough on both sides. I kept tweaking and I wrote the final design on watercolor paper. I could work with this endlessly, but I'm pretty happy with where we're at, and for the purposes of this class, we'll stop here. This design turned out far more lacy and feminine than our original design which is okay but it lacks that tribal feel of the first design, so I decided to do a second version. I went back in and added some straight lines, and emphasized the weight and the heaviness. I made the lines bolder and used simpler shapes. Here you'll see I'm almost getting there, but one side is much heavier. 12. Finalizing Your Work: As we prepare to finalize our design, it's a good time to do a space check. Just as I do a spell check before sending a file to a printer, I've been trying to do space checks before doing final work. Here's a sample of spacing getting out of whack while I worked. Notice that this space is far too wide. Pay special attention to the whitespace in your design. When we move on to lettering, they will be the counter spaces and will be crucial to creating good letters. Look at your spaces, are they even or pleasingly uneven? Are they balanced? These smaller spaces are slightly inconsistent too, but slight inconsistencies can be pleasing, natural, whereas big differences tend to grab the eye and take away from the overall design. This is also a good time to check in with your tattoo artist and get their input. With trained eyes, they may be able to suggest small improvements or refinements to help the design fit the area of the body that it is designed for. Now, you're ready to rewrite your final version on clear fontaine or watercolor paper. I work on an autograph light pad, which just makes redrawing so much easier and faster. It is optional though, as I've worked for years without one. They are listed in our class supply list under Optional and they are quite nice to have. I use mine often, but I am also aware that jobs will come along regularly where I cannot use it, where surfaces are too opaque to see through. It is important that is just another tool to be used and doesn't become at crutch. If you don't have one, you'll still find that Clairefontaine is slightly translucent and you can see through it just enough to rewrite over top of your rough version. Once your tattoo is finalized, please share it with our class, then you can take it to a tattoo artist and you are good to go. But I'll also review another option. Perhaps you are sending your tattoo away to get a temporary tattoo made, or maybe you decide it would look great on a t-shirt or other application. In that case, you simply need to create a clean JPEG. You can do this by scanning your tattoo at a high resolution or taking a well-lit, well-focused photo and cleaning it up in a photo editing program. Here's the steps I use to quickly clean up my scanned work in Photoshop. I've just grabbed my Eraser tool, made it a little bit bigger, and I'm just going across the top there just to clean up that edge and you see there's a little smudge there, clean that up, clean it up around the sides and then reduce my Eraser tool down and go in and clean up those little flecks that I see, just little tiny flecks that need to be cleaned up. Then I'm going to zoom in, I see a few more little flecks. Let's get rid of those. Now, notice there are white flecks within my pen strokes. I'm going to clean up this edge just a little bit while I see it too. But there are white flecks within my pen strokes, because this was done on watercolor paper, which has a little bit of texture and also a bit of resistance. I'm not going to worry too much about that, but when I select my background, I need to be sure my tolerance is quite low so it doesn't select all those little white marks. With the Magic Wand tool, I'm selecting my background white and you can see that it's not a very clean selection, so I'm going to deselect. I'm going to reset my levels. That's going to whiten up that background, and when I make the selection again, that's a much better selection. I just have some white pixels out here. It's easy enough to go back and add those in with the Lasso tool, and then we have a clean selection. At this point, one thing you want to be careful to do, is that you go back in and select "Similar". Now, in our sample here, we don't have interior spaces, but you might, that's enclosed spaces within your design and choosing "Similar" will include them in the selection. Next, I'm going to go to "Refine Edge" here, and I'm going to feather the edge 1.5 pixels, and I'm going to shift the edge about 10 percent, just because I expanded my selection a little when I feathered it and I want to pull it back in a little bit, and select "Okay", and then I'm going to inverse the selection. Now with my tattoo selected, I'm going to go up to "Edit" and fill it with black. Now, just to tidy up the file and keep it small and clean, I'm going to trim it. All those default settings are fine. But you see I must have some extra pixels floating around the edges because those edges should trim off, so I'm going to go in and grab my Eraser tool, make it a bit bigger again, and just go in and clean those edges up a little bit just trying to find any straight pixels that we can't see, but that will be out there. Then I will trim again. This time we have much better result, and there you go. You have a little bit of extra space at the bottom, but I'm not going to worry too much about that. We have a file that we can send away for a temporary tattoo or make into a t-shirt or use in any way we like. So we'll save it. 13. Until Next Time! : Thank you so much for joining me today. I really hope you've enjoyed this class and are beginning to see the power in this pen. This class has come to an end, but I hope it's just the beginning for you. I have a lot more to share so I would love to see you in another class.