SB's cross, being done 8.1.2010.   4 1/2 inches tall, about 2 inches wide. Pink ribbon, traditional yinyan, no color to the cross, I don't think. Very basic.

I call this one Infinity is Godlike, but that's me. Sic-un says it looks like a bee. I doodled into it at work the other day, intrigued enough to redo on paper instead of wipeboard. I'm thinking potential hip design, but it would be a bitch for me to do there.We'll see where this one goes in the future. Each square is 1/2 an inch.

Pi, obviously. Ankle, adding to the aum and the celtic triangle. It fits too well. This picture is, again obviously, blown up. Each little square is 1/2 an inch.


D.o.S-u...Only half...

...Evil, that is.
Yes, laydees and gennulmen, I have put ink into one of Sic-un's kids....
Daughter of Sic-un...DoSu :)

The flash (after about 45 minutes of discussion and sizing and placement and font and color and ink tests)

She's been talking about getting 'only 1/2 evil' on her body for years. Years and years, according to Sic-un. So now that she's 18, 19 in a week to 10 days, she wants her first.

How sweet would it be if Sic-un laid the ink into her? First piece and all that, but "This is my first tattoo...My dad gave it to me."

So he started...

Unfortunately, due to his back (you could see the pain creeping up his face), he couldn't do the outline.

I finished the outline. Sic-un made a statement which kindof resonated with me...I do fine outlines. I use a 3L? Yeah. FINEline... He says speed is a factor.
I say not so much speed as touch, if that makes sense, but I'm probably wrong.

I've always just liked fine line outlines... If I used a 5L, it would be thicker.

Anyway, outline. So Sic-un? Do you wanna try some fill? I wanna see you do some fill, even just a smidge so I can get the motioning and angle and all that rather than risking making your daughter's skin look like hamburger with trial and error and you're playing your game so you don't want to hover, and that's cool, but I'm learning, you know?

See that little spot there on the L? Yeah. Just laid in, right before I took over. And in addition to picking BloodRed as the fill, she also bled like a stuck pig. You pick ink from blood (blood is a bit orange-ier when it's wiped out) just by quick scan....ARGH!

So I worked on it. She's squirmy! It was hurting her really badly. Very sensitive skin.
Apparently it runs in the family, too, but I think SoSu has a bit better....Control? Yeah. A bit better control.
DoSu? She almost bit through a tongue depressor.

Still, she made it through, she's a trooper. Neat kid. I like both his kids. DoSu? She's smart, gorgeous, nice (seriously, guys? She's GORGEOUS. Like really really gorgeous. Enough to give a complex gorgeous)...

And now there's no going back, but due to the pain factors for her skin, she's thinking long and hard about what she wants, where.

Now, it's a kindof bad picture (bad lighting, flash on camera), but I can point out some areas that you may be looking at and thinking 'Hrm. Not too good.'
The "i": I went over the center 2x.
Spots in the 'L' and the 'F' of the HALF: Again-over them 2x, but I think they're pimple scars.

I really really don't want to turn her skin into hamburger at this point. This is her first, I'm still very much a beginner, and I was afraid if I went over it and over it and over it to 'make sure' I was hitting it? Yeah. Burger. Not pretty and it is not my intention or desire to scar. Therefore: It's going to be a 'See how it heals and how it looks after it heals and if it's necessary, I'll hit it again then.'


What I did this weekend...

I keep saying I have a dozen ideas in my head. I'm not huge fan of traditional, but I do want to learn, so this is really my own teaching. I'm using the myriad issues of magazines I have floating around for ideas. And it's all freehand, which is something I haven't done in a bit.

The fat heart turned out the best as far as the hearts go. The heart itself, that is. I like the banner on the double hearts better.

The butterfly and the yellow flower are my interpretation of flash from c. 1920-c.1960.


Productive long weekend....

...I go back to the AlternateDimension tomorrow. The good news is that there is no mandatory OT on my schedule this week. The better news is 2 days and I'm off for another 2. And then (and THEN?) I'll have off the 28th-31st. So does Sic-un, so it's all good.
I like days off.
I like lots of days off and I still want to win the lottery.
Still, it was a productive weekend.

I redid Mari's Eye of Horus, just to the right there. She's going to JP this upcoming weekend. I wish her safe journey and for her to have a frickin' ball. She needs it, desperately. Just a weekend, but that's ok.

As for me... well, that's below. Didn't get the fan completed, but I got more done on it. It's a little strange, tattooing yourself. There's the pain involved of actually getting a tattoo, but you have to work through the pain to actually do the tattoo itself. It makes (especially on the top front of the thigh) for a painful proposition, you know?
Still, I did get some more into it, and it's coming together. Then I surprised myself and decided to go back to the basics while waiting for the fan to heal up for the next round.



SB, the recipient of Fire, wanted a butterfly and actually found the design she wanted on the 'net. I haven't felt that I've been good enough to do something that intricate. However, after working on the fan on my leg (still have to do the background of the teal, it's coming along nicely and it feels like it's healing fast), my confidence became a little stronger. Anyhoo, it was decided that we'd do her ink today. Packed everything up, jumped on the bike with Sic_un and off we went. This is after staying up until 6 am (curse you insomnia!). I've also started taking the time to do drawings of what I tattoo (Mar!! You get yours when we fix the Eye!)
So. The pictures below are:
The drawing
The stencil
The outline
1/2 way through the black fill
Black fill and purple nodules

Outline: 3L, 6/20/09
Fill: 8S, 7M, 6/20/09
Colors: Prizm Tribal Black, Light Purple, White
Subject: SB/Butterfly


Leaves shaded...

The first leaf...

Halfway done with the leaves --------------------->

Full finished leaves. I started on the teal, but need to let it heal for a color check before I finish.


Convention. New machine.

The 10th Annual ETN Tattoo convention took place last weekend. Sic-un & I went and I finally got some live, close-up action on some magnum usage. I also saw some of the absolute finest line work I've ever seen going on. Single needle, very intricate fleur de lis design, painstakingly slow. Didn't buy anything, I really just went for information purposes. See, I watch shows like Tattoo Highway, LA & Miami Ink and things like that because I don't have the time to hang out in a tattoo studio all day long. Besides... My mother raised me better. I don't expect Joe Public to come watch me work (actually, Joe Public isn't allowed to come watch me work) and I extend the same courtesies... Except in a convention setting where it's taken pretty much for granted you're gonna watch and be watched.

Unfortunately, the idiot-box shows what the producers of the shows believe Joe Public wants to see. I don't give a shit if Ami is babysitting the kid. I don't care that Von D is bumping uglies with Nikki. I don't know the artists as people and I don't think I'll ever meet them, so it's a moot point to know what they have for breakfast. I think the people that come in for the work on these shows prove the adage that the most ordinary people have the most extraordinary lives, at least in a microcosm...But that doesn't mean I wanna hear about them, rude as that is. "This is a memorial tattoo to my Uncle John. He was in the Navy and I always remember exactly how he held his coffee cup because he was a really huge influence." Yeah. Whatever....so you're getting this coffee cup. Ok. You do get some good art ideas, which are just fermenting like mad in my head (and then you throw in some of my latest influences like steampunk and biomechanical and all the traditional with the japanese and you get some really, really fucked up ideas)... But what I really wanna see...

I wanna see how the artist is holding the machine, what strokes are used, how slow are they going really, what size needle is that, how far do YOU have it from the end of the tube, what grips do you like, why are you mixing this with that and what shading do you get from it, what does it do and how does it work?

Can't do that on the idiot-box, you wouldn't have a show. So I find myself watching the CableMonster's on demand programming and fast-forwarding past the boring parts to get to those few minutes you can actually watch the artist work. I've seen the vids on the 'net. They suffer from the same problem: It's not how I would have done it. Usually it's angle, the zoom (c'mon. You should be able to get a bit closer than 3 feet away. Really.), and nobody gives a thought to how the artist is holding their hands and stretching the skin, no matter if it's cameraman #3 making $75K a year working in South Beach or the guy with the little Sony HandyCam and some time to spare while his girlfriend gets an anklet done. Most artists I've seen stretch with the left, ink with the right. Most camera operators shoot from the left. Over the hand stretching the skin so you don't get a good look at how they're stretching, and besides.... to stretch the skin, you usually have to tent your hand. Interferes with what the needle is doing when it impacts the skin.

So we went to the convention and I saw someone working with a 7 magnum (hey! I have those!) doing some good shading on a snake on this guy's leg. I saw the movement. From the right. He was 18 inches away. I found myself peering intently. One of my big questions was 'Using the magnum, it looks like they're scrubbing the skin with it from a distance. Short, sharp, scrubby strokes. What is the movement the artist uses to impact the needle on the skin?' I now know the answer: Fill-in you do small circles overlapping--it looks kind of like the product of a spirograph. Horizontal, overlapping circles do not look like they're scrubbed into the skin. For shading, you do small circles overlapping vertically. Still circles, just vertically into and then out of the skin as opposed to horizontally over the surface. It looks like, but it is not in fact, scrubbed into the skin. The guy doing the lining... I was able to see the pressure he was using, how tight the skin was, how fast he went (so very slow and exact...single needle line as thick as my typical 3 needle strokes, almost to one of my 5's), how he held the machine and how he wiped. I go way way too fast with the needle.

Sic-un has shown me, but he goes a bit fast, too, especially since I have a pretty delicate touch. It hit home watching this guy exactly how much I need to slow down. So I'm looking forward to finishing the fan.

I'm going to be setting a flutterby onto someone I know Saturday. I needed to practice my shading, I know this. It's the whole reason for doing the fan, because it was a design I could live with and it gave me enough play-room (the sticks of the fan do, in fact, look wood-like! Yay!). But the liner, my original first machine, it ain't gonna fill in worth diddly, although I did fill in the sticks. Part of the reason it looks wood-like is that it's not meant to be used for fill-in, not really. Sic-un got a rebuild kit for his shading machine. He rebuilt his machine. His machine will not accept the tubes from the pre-sterilized combos I use. Tubes are too big for the machine. When we did manage (with a lot of twisting, cursing and growling) fit a tube into it, it spattered. No amount of tuning would correct it. We do have some separate pre-sterilized tubes/needles he can practice with to see if he can get rid of the spatter.


I'm not that patient. And the flutterby waits.

Meet the new member of the family.

This is the Raven, from Superior. Shading, of course. Lightweight, 7 oz.! Means it's non-metallic, but that's OK. And looking at it... I wonder what a wooden machine would look like. Kindof like an organic sculpture with the coils embedded... You know? You can fit it with the metal you need to get the contacts, and I bet some brass on it would be kick-fucking-ass.... Hmmm. You see the ADHD take effect. Things are shiny. Something to draw tonight in the alternate dimension.


I'll post pictures when I finish my fan (should be tomorrow evening sometime, or Thursday). And I should be posting pictures of a pretty flutterby soon too.

This post is brought to you by the number 3 because that's how many times I've published this particular post. Variations may abound, but this is the 'full' version.


What is done...

...cannot be undone, which is just fine by me. Outline and sticks, done. 10 days-2 weeks and we'll get leaves and background done.

This is checkin' the stencil placement. You can see the hash marks at the top and bottom for where I had it placed.

First lines.

No turning back!

2/3 done with the outline. Just as a note, the inside of the thigh stings like a muthafucka...

Outline done. Now for some fill.

And here's some experimentation with shading. I'm actually trying to make the sticks look wood-ish.

And the wood experiment, while not a COMPLETE success, will shape up nicely on the next go-round. I unintentionally left some holes in the black/brown combinations, but am planning on adding light brown highlights, if not white highlights. I did happen to play with the magnum, the 7, but I'd really like to see it in use up close and personal. This is where not being an apprentice really dicks with my head. I'm doing all this on my own, which means quite a bit of trial and error. Depending on how it heals up, I may overlay all the sticks with the background fabric color of the fan. That would be teal, by the way, just in case you were wondering.

Outline: 3L
Stick fill: 7M & 14S
colors: Tribal black, brown (Prizm)

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.


.... So I have my stencil done, I'm eating my muesli (organic soy milk, too), Sic-un's in the Alternate Dimension, and I'm going to get, at the very least, the outlining done.

One of my biggest time eaters with the tattooing is the stenciling process. I don't have a thermographic printer, can't afford one (I've seen them for as low as $700, and as high as $1700), so all stencils are drawn by hand. After completing the drawing, I pulled the first sheet off the master (we remember dittos... Kids today? Not so much), set it over the drawing and then traced it off. I used the ruler to keep the lines clean, so no worries there.

Then I took that first sheet and taped it back into position on the carbon layer to trace over it with ballpoint. Used the ruler there too.

Then you compare/contrast and decide which elements need to be transferred over to the skin and add/subtract as necessary. I am going to be transferring the fan's fold lines over. I'm hoping to get a 'guide', so to speak, for the shading I'll be attempting in the fan's background.

So I'm eating my muesli and contemplating ink. I want at least the outline done without any fuckups.

After meal.... then ink. More after that happens.

Oh, and if anyone wants to get me a Thermofax (tm), you're more than welcome to. It would make the process a smidge easier.

(photos are, in order, drawing, comparison and placement)

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.


The Saga of The Fan....

.....It's time for me to really get into shading practice. Shading and fill in. I have outlines. I know how to outline. But shading is a bit scary, so is fill-in. SO much can go wrong.
It took me 2 tries to get Sic-un's leg filled in. M's fill-in has pulled out, although her father says she had a compound fracture right where it is when she was wee-small that scarred heavily, but has since grown over/filled in. The skin was a bit... tough, I guess, to get through when I was tattooing, and it didn't really want to take ink right there. Still...Fill in can be intimidating as can shading.
But it still doesn't stop the need for practice, and let's face it... Citrus just doesn't cut it for shading/fill practice. You can, I have. But the texture of the citrus peel itself means bits of the peel get stuck in the center of the needles and causes severe clumping and just...
So I need practice, and I can't subject someone to something I am unwilling to do, you know? Why would I 'practice' shading or fill-in on someone else? They'd only have to go get it redone or covered over and I'd just get a reputation as another 'scratcher'...
Don't want that.
Then the thinking portion of it began. What design? Where would it be? Easiest places for tattooing on yourself are the legs. I already did my ankle and although I see several other designs there, including more triangles, I don't want to do another on my ankle just yet.
Sic-un mentioned the thigh.
My thighs are good pieces of real estate on the body, they don't have a huge amount of nerve endings, and let's face it... I have a good pad there, right? Legs that carry around a 200 pound body tend to be large. I have large legs. I have large, square-ish shaped thighs. Good for artwork.
So I decided on the thigh.
What design? What design could I use that was 'me', something I'd want for the rest of my life, yet could be used for heavy shading practice and give me some fill in time?
Skull--nah. Feathers... oh ick, no. Birds, animals... symbols.. No, no... not another one. Not yet. Lizard? Very little shading there. Koi? Um... no, no shading, although LOTS of outlining, LOTS of fill-in....
Shading and fill....
What about... a fan? Japanese design, hand fan.... there's shading, right? Let's check the 'net for some designs or flash...
Hm. Sad lack. Sad, sad lack... Well, that means it's not a 'usual' design. It's not the usual rose (I discarded that idea. I do not want a rose right now) or bird or skull or knife or/or/or....
It's not a common design. There aren't any fans out there I could find (in ink, on the 'net) that showed a lot of shading in the fan itself. Usually, the fan is either a counterpoint (in the hand of the geisha), or just a tablet for a floral design of some sort. I don't want to use the fan as a canvas to illustrate a flowering tree, for example. I want the skin to be the canvas for a tattoo of a fan, a complete fan, with shading. I want a tattoo that says 'This is a fan that just happens to have a shaded design", not "This is a shaded design that just happens to be sitting on a fan shape".
I decided on size.
I asked Sic-un about size one night while we were lying on the couch, just last week. He asked how big I was thinking... I told him give me a pen since he was closest to my pen bin.

This is the design I started with. I drew it upside down. I was resting head on the arm of the couch, legs stretched out. I pulled up my leg, started sketching.
Maple leaves. I was thinking the bright reds and oranges of Japanese maple leaves, with the dark bark of the tree itself. I love those reds and oranges, even though red and orange aren't my 'favorite' colors, or even colors I tend to move towards. But I love the reds and oranges on Japanese maple leaves.
The area it will cover is about 6 by 8 inches, so it's not a small tattoo... And leaf placement.... gotta get the sticks right....
everything has to match for dips and valleys...

I'm going to let you in on a bit of a secret....
I use the 'net extensively for my art creation. Not in a "I haven't had an original thought in my entire life" way, not "I'll take your art, change colors and call it MY art", but "Let's use this for the base, that's the 'look' I want, so let's take that off and then move it around and change it here and what to use for the design itself, let's go googling-googly-goo....

Pages upon pages of fans pulled up and looked at and discarded and pulled and checked and removed and added, not to mention Japanese maple leaves to be pulled up, decided upon and moved forward with... Please, though... I don't do copies. I don't 'trace', really... I do trace shapes off if it's ridiculous to not to.... Like the fan shape. I can either pull out the compass and the straight edge and rulers and measure and mark and erase and do it again and again and again (and I can! I have... it's not fun, it's not pretty, it's precise. It's engineering, really, and it's a pain in the ass) or I can find a fan shape I like from the 'net and play with it in photoshop and then trace it off THEN change it more on paper...
Which is what I ended up doing.
The fan I chose had a good number of sticks, was a good shade reference and had pleats the size I wanted. I played with the brightness/contrast, removed the majority of the black background which changed the edge of the piece since part of the design was black (it's rather apropos, really... one of my favorite images is Katsushika Hokusai's Kanagawa-oki-nami-ura, so I found a fan with the right pleats that just happened to have it on it), I had to assume part of the shape itself from the picture (funny crop on source), and actually take away most of the image while preserving the shading...
Then I transferred it to my pad (carbon...wonderful concept), trace out and straighten out EVERYTHING (one of the problems in taking away the black background is it DOES change the edges), lengthen the entire fan surface, decide where I wanted the visible stick to end at...
I liked it. I really liked it. Then I had to decide where I wanted to put the leaves, how many, where laying, how shaded, how attached, how does the branch go, where does it come from... Outline... how much to outline, decisions to made before actually inking for where outline would be... Do I outline the leaves, or use a colored outline or just fade from the background which ends in outline or/or/or.
Then colors, which is a whole new agonization (is that even a word???) in and of itself. Sic-un laughed at me when I asked him what color the background should be. "Babe, it's your leg. It's your tattoo. YOU decide."
ARRGH. I understand, really, but still... A direction would have been nice. So wracked the brain. Do I do a favorite color? Hm. Those are all dark, and you want the dark of the branch to stand out. Wait. What about... nah, that's almost as bad as... Well, it's not like, it DOES contrast... No, the color mixing would be a pain.. hm.
If I do the leaves and branch, let it heal, you'd have time to get some of that color in.. well, maybe. Hm.
I have approximately 200 colored pencils.
And I went back to the way I saw it in my head when I had that one dream...
Not the tattoo, the fan.
That was the dream fan. The color, design, the utter simplicity.

I think I can work in the shading not only through the design in the leaves but also the fabric of the fan itself. If I can't, then I can't, but I'm not subjecting some victim to it. I'll try it on myself. And hey... what do you know... I'm thinking I can mix a tad Zulu Green with a greater quantity of Sky Blue and maybe get a good shade of teal. And if I can't, well, then, we'll just let it heal and cover it in straight blue.

But I'm gonna try it. It's at the very least outlined hopefully Wednesday/Thursday or Saturday. I've got all the colors, I've got some needles, I have the time...