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How to get the right tattoo shading

By Chameleon Art Products
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While you need an incredibly steady hand and plenty of creativity when using a needle to design a tattoo on a brave soul's body, you need just as much skill beforehand in the planning stage. If you're a tattoo artist, then you need to create the best and most realistic concept sketches possible. Or, if you're planning to design one for yourself, you'd want to know exactly how that tattoo is going to turn out. Here's how to get the right tattoo shading to achieve the best results.

You can design your tattoo with pretty much any tool you want. But when you take into account that you're creating something you're going to ink that will last for life, you'd be better off using a professional tool that gives the best results. Superstar tattoo artist Candela Pajaro has used an alcohol marker in the image above.

Go 'all-in' on realism

Obviously, you're probably not going to get the realistic results you want if you're drafting up your concept with a wax crayon. That's why it's important that a professional-quality marker is used, such as a Chameleon Pen, to help you create the best concept sketch possible.

You want to be fully confident that whatever you've designed on a good piece of paper or card is what you want on your body. If you're a tattoo artist, then you're going to need to seriously impress your clients with designs in great detail like they've never seen elsewhere.

Just look at what Candela has managed to do with the image above, that's not something you see on regular concept designs. The shading and shadows are visible on the arms and stars. The light source has been taken into account and brilliantly implemented on the helmet, skin and gloves while there's even a realistic reflection on the visor the character is wearing.

That's something you need to do, regardless of whether you're a tattoo artist mocking up a design for a client or you're designing your own tattoo. Once you've drawn up a sketch, make sure you're considering aspects such as the highlights you want on your tattoo, any shadows you want to include, if you want 3D effects along with the light source.

See how Candela has put all of those ideas to good use in her Love Potion artwork below.

Love Potion by Candela on Vimeo.

The marker gives you the same effects as your needle

If you're using an amateur tool, you'll be able to tell the big difference from your design to when the actual needle is put to skin. Again, that's why the right tool is needed when designing your next tattoo.

Unlike other markers, you're able to get the same depth and gradations out of your illustrations which translate a lot better when it's time to use a needle on your skin. Think about it this way, if you use ordinary markers then your clients might not be impressed with the outcome and could go elsewhere.

On the flip side, you get the most realistic results from a Chameleon Pen. The blending is seamless and you can't see the strokes, just like you wouldn't want to see them when using your needle and ink. Along with the flawless blending and multiple tones, you get colors that are more vivid and vibrant to result in a more stunning finish.

Take advantage of having full control over the colors

With a Chameleon Pen, you're not having to compromise the tone because you think there's a particular shade of red you need and there's no marker out there available for you to use. That's where Chameleon's innovative Mixing Chamber comes in - it gives you a wide tonal range on every single color of pen so you’re more likely to find the color blend you're searching for.

Chameleon Pen - Colorless toning chamber result

This is the technology which will vertically infuse the nib of your marker with the Colorless Toning Medium, so you get beautiful blends, color gradations, shading, highlights, 3D effects and more with the exact same marker. So if you do need to use 10 different shades of blue during your tattoo design, you have full control over which tone you want to use depending on how long you keep the nib in the Mixing Chamber.

For tattoo designs, this is crucial. You're able to easily turn your fully-saturated colors into easy to blend gradients of color as you're changing the actual color at the source - which leads us nicely to our next point...


You get more tones with fewer tools when using Chameleon Pens

You're able to control the colors you want to use because of the Mixing Chamber, so you won't need to use 30 different markers just to produce 30 different shades of yellow. When you're shading your tattoos, you could always accidentally pick up the wrong shade which can ruin your design.

This can be eliminated by only using one Chameleon Pen instead to get even more tones than you can with a number of other pens from other manufacturers.

Time sheet showing the different tones one Chameleon Pen can make after being infused with the mixing chamber

Let's put this into a scenario. You're trying to create a design packed with different blues. The above image shows the gradient of different tones which just one Chameleon Pen will achieve as the Mixing Chamber's dilution wears off.

Design your tattoos much more efficiently

Okay, we're not saying you need to rush your tattoo designs. We get it - there's always the excitement of seeing your design come to life on skin but the process shouldn't be rushed. After all, we don't want something like this...

Bad Bon Jovi tattooImage Credit: Good Housekeeping

We're thinking more along the lines of...


Alcohol markers like Chameleon Pens are a lot quicker to dry than water based options. So, if you're using good quality paper or card, the ink dries quickly and won't bleed through and ruin your work. And you need fewer pens to unlock more colors than with other alcohol marker brands.

As you can tell, using the right professional-quality tool is the biggest and first step when it comes to improving your tattoo designs and getting the right shading blends. Without the right tools, you might not be able to keep yourself and clients happy with your designs. If you are looking for some more inspiration and to see the amazing results you can get out of your tattoo illustrations, check out tutorials from Chameleon's master tattoo artist, Candela Pajaro here.

Have you used Chameleon Pens for your own tattoo illustrations? Let us know how you got on in the comments section below and show the rest of the Chameleon Creative Community your killer work.

Chameleon Pens can be used for much more than just tattoo designs. Why not challenge yourself to try something new? Check out this free guide that'll take your artwork to the next level. 

Unlock Your Potential With Chameleon Pens Guide CTA

Tags: shading, Tattoo Art

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