Reinventing The Tattoo - Part VII Review Questions

Part VII Review Questions

1) What is the advantage of doing a value study before doing a color study? In what kinds of tattooing situations might this be the most helpful? Because color presents so many more options than black and gray do, it's simpler to experiment with a value study than with color drawings. Although a finished color rendering can often be helpful when planning a custom piece, by working out the dark and light areas first, it can be much easier to then imagine different color options. In many cases, especially when working with familiar subjects, having a finished value study can be enough information to begin tattooing, possibly along with simple notes about what colors to use in each element of the design.

2) When switching from a graywash to straight black, what precautions can be taken to assure that the black isn't diluted by water in the tube tip? To remove all possible dilution from the tube tip, the first step is to blot the tip in a paper towel to drain out any washes or other fluids. After dipping into straight black, there is then the option of blotting the tip again and dipping a second time into the black, which will remove all traces of dilution that may be clinging to the inside of the tube tip.

3) What are some major considerations that can affect your visibility while working? Visibility of the needle points is critical in having control over the medium. Good visibility is a combination of a number of things: Good lighting and positioning of both client and artist are important, and a tight stretch is helpful because the needle points don't need to be buried in the skin as much. Having a 45 degree bevel on the tube tip is helpful as well. and the needle needs to be extending far enough to be seen.

4) What makes a project a good candidate for a hectograph stencil? In what cases might a freehand design transfer be preferable? How about a combination of both? Stencils are helpful in many cases where a subject is either geometrically precise, such as a motorcycle engine, or needs to be a close reproduction of a reference image, such as a portrait. Since stencils can be made before a tattoo session, it can save time during the session, so any time a drawing might be especially time consuming, a hectograph stencil can be very helpful. On the other hand, drawing the design freehand on the skin is good for achieving a more idealized flow and fit on the body, particularly in the case of larger bodywork and sleevework. As long as the design is worked out well enough beforehand on paper, drawing the piece on freehand doesn't have to take too long or require too much erasing. Sometimes, using hectograph stencils for geometric or portrait type elements and freehand drawing for the other more flowing elements can allow for the best of both worlds.

5) If a full range of colors is used in a foreground shape, how much range should be used in the background? What is the best way to determine what background colors to use? Any time a full range of color is used in a foreground shape, you'll get better foreground/background separation if the background is much more subdued, using perhaps one third the range of the foreground. If the foreground is primarily in warms, a cool background help push it forward. The background will usually be most effective if it is mostly opposite the color wheel of the dominant hues in the foreground.

6) What are some ways of strengthening the pos/neg relationship between a foreground object and the background? How is this technically done? If a foreground object doesn't stand out from the background enough, it's likely that there isn't enough of a difference in the levels of light and dark between the foreground and background. A design will have the most graphic power if it has obviously distinct areas of dark and light, in clear pos/neg relationships with each other. It's important to decide what your strategy is- dark foreground object on a light background, or light foreground on a dark background? With that decided, it's easier to know what actions to take.

If you need to clarify a foreground object that's meant to be light on a darker background, first add some darker shading directly behind and around it, darkest immediately below it. This can be done by brushing in the color with a magnum or other shading group, and the effect can be strengthened by following that up with a smaller round group to tighten the shading up against the edges of the foreground shape to make that edge as clear as possible; after that, using lighter colors and possibly white highlights in the foreground object will help clarify that foreground/background relationship even more.

7) What are some important considerations when designing a tattoo for a bony or irregular body part? Any design that has any sort of geometric regularity will distort when placed over an irregular, bumpy or bony body part; that's why it's important to take those irregularities into consideration when designing the tattoo, seeking to work with them rather than against them. This can animate the tattoo and makes it look good with the body in any position.

8) How can line weight be used to make part of a shape appear to pop forward? Since strong line weight, when used selectively, can give design elements more graphic priority in a design, it tends to make objects appear to come forward. If an object has only parts of it that are meant to come into the foreground, the line weight can change along the outer edge of the object, staying thinner in parts that are further away and thicker where it is meant to appear closer to the viewer. To be effective, this needs to be done with the line weight transitioning smoothly.

9) In a complex design, what are some available tricks for keeping the overall piece readable? Readability is largely determined by how selectively a piece is rendered, with the elements standing out from each other because they are all tattooed differently. For starters, using strong lines around the most important elements, thinner lines around secondary elements and graylines or no lines around distant or atmospheric elements will help clarify the design in a vary fundamental way. Determining what the overall shading strategy is- pos on neg, neg on pos or a dynamic combination of the two- is equally important. Using clearly contrasting color schemes, such as warm objects on a cool background or vise-versa, can strengthen the effect further. Using texture in some objects while leaving others smooth, while limiting fine detail to only the objects that need to stand out the most, is yet another tool that can be used to define objects; using white highlights in select objects only can be an attractive final touch.

10) What kinds of projects are good candidates for executing magnum first? Especially when first experimenting with a magnum-first technique, try simple familiar designs, especially those that have some organic flow and some margin for error. The skull and rose in this book are two good examples of this; wildlife tattoos are another example.

11) When applying a design with a dark background, why is it preferable to shade and color the background before the foreground? By completing the background shading first, it can be much more obvious how much shading should be used in the foreground objects; this can help prevent a dark overall look in the piece.

12) What are some advantages of a divide-and-conquer approach, where small parts of a tattoo are worked to completion before moving to the next areas? By completing smaller areas of a piece rather than working the entire design all at once, the individual elements can be addressed more individually, which can make for more thorough rendering. This approach also can be easier for clients to sit for, since the needle is jumping around the design far less. When the entire design is worked all at once, parts may sit for a while before being hit again, which can be aggravating; sectioning the piece into smaller zones prevents this.

13) The 3, 4 and 5 round are fairly similar to each other. In what sorts of situations would a 3 be recommended? What about a 4 or 5 round? Each of these lining groups is ideal for some jobs but less appropriate for others. Threes are good for very small tattoos or small details in larger pieces, but are less useful for outlining larger objects and can result in a scratchy appearance. When used for graylining, threes leave a line that is equivalent to using a single needle but is less likely to blow out or drop out. Five rounds are good for stronger lines, especially lines that are built up to a controlled thickness, giving them optimal sharpness and darkness. Lines made this way allow for maximum control. Threes can be used for building lines as well, especially in much smaller objects or items where a great deal of control is needed. Fours are perfect for many of these jobs, and in some cases a four will replace the need for both a three and a five.

14) What will happen during healing to white highlights that are applied over yellow pigment? White highlights will only heal as true white when place into otherwise untattooed skin. When added over existing yellow pigment, white pigment will heal as a yellow-white, lighter but less vibrant than the yellow around it.

15) Under what circumstances are graylines ideal? What about color lines? Graylines are good for concealing lines around objects where no black line is needed. Apart from being obviously very helpful in black and gray work, graylines are useful in color work anywhere that an object needs to have a slight extra degree of sharpness around it. On the other hand, color lines can be used when no black or gray pigment is desired in a shape, and instead pure color is the goal. Shapes handled this way will have less of an illusion of sharpness than a color shape that also has a grayline, but will age and soften at the same rate.

16) What can be done to prevent stencil loss while working? To prevent stencil loss, first the stencil needs to be applied the right way, with the skin cleaned thoroughly with alcohol and the stencil applied carefully. Keeping the room temperature comfortable so the client doesn't sweat will help keep it from melting off, but the most important thing is to work from the bottom to the top, being careful to rest your hands only on areas where the design is already committed to the skin. Where handling parts of the uncommitted stencil is unavoidable, using a dry paper towel to handle the area can slow down the process of it coming off.

17) How much power should be used while applying graylines or bloodlines? By keeping the power low when applying graylines or bloodlines, the skin along that line will be less traumatized, allowing for more development along that edge later in the session with less of a risk of trenching.

18) When can a tightening stage using a lining group be advantageous over coloring with only a magnum? Any time an object is meant to stand out, especially a foreground shape, tightening its edges is an important step in defining its visual priority and helping it to stand out from the background.

19) What extra steps can be taken while applying bright yellow to achieve maximum saturation? Because yellow pigment can be a stubborn pigment to saturate the skin with, taking a couple extra steps can be very helpful in making the yellow as bright as possible. After packing in a good pass of yellow with a magnum or other large shading group, a second pass with a five round or other small round group to saturate the yellow pigment along the edges of the shapes and in tight nooks and crannies that the magnum couldn't reach easily will result in more saturation and a brighter overall look. In addition, after any kind of white highlighting, a brief final skim over the yellow areas seems to help turn the brightness up a final notch.

20) What kinds of colors work well to make a muted color scheme, and how can they be mixed together for results with intentionally limited brightness? Any time colors are complementary or close to opposite on the color wheel, they will combine to create muted colors. For example, green and orange will make a sickly tan color, while purple and orange will make a warm gray and purple and sea foam green mix into a soft cool gray. Mixed with either white or black, any combination of muted colors will be even more neutral. This mixing can be done in advance by mixing individual small bottles of various weird muted colors; it can also be done by dipping between ink caps, or layering the color in the skin. In a combination of these techniques, an infinite variety of muted hues is available.

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