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Digital to Skin: Using SketchBook to Design Tattoos

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We’re always coming across working tattoo artists who use our app. The iPad — and tablets in general — have simplified the way people create things that previously took many steps. Just as this is true for print-based output, so is it true for skin-based output. The basic process for many tattoo artists is this: Draw the line work in SketchBook, get feedback from the client, revise the line drawing (if needed), and then print it out as a transferable stencil that goes directly on the skin. If you’ve ever had a bad haircut (and who hasn’t?), the big benefit is pretty clear; customers can relax during the tattoo appointment knowing the artist has experience and isn’t totally winging it. We wanted to know more about making tattoos, so we asked Lucas Ferreira (@lucasferreiratattoo on Instagram), a tattoo artist with many years experience to show us how he does it. If you read and speak Portuguese, you’re in for a special treat because that is his native language. We include both Portuguese and an English translation for you. 

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Ola pessoal, como vão? Meu nome é Lucas Ferreira, sou um tatuador brasileiro e hoje vamos falar do Autodesk Sketchbook para iPad Pro com Apple pencil usado para  tatuagem.

Hi everyone, how are you? My name is Lucas Ferreira. I’m a Brazilian tattoo artist, and today I’m going to talk about tattooing using Autodesk SketchBook on the iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil.
tattoo designs drawing digitally
Lucas uses SketchBook to both visualize how a tattoo will look on the body and to create the line art before transferring it to skin as a stencil.

Nessa primeira imagem ou camada, falarei do esboço e da composição do tema. Geralmente eu uso ferramentas básicas, tanto no papel quanto no iPad. Uso um lápis H vermelho para esboçar e compor a ideia, dando apenas volume com sombras, ja imaginando qual parte do corpo vou encaixar o desenho como vemos abaixo:

In this first image or layer, I will focus on the outline and composition of the theme. I usually use basic tools, both on paper and on the iPad. I use a red H pencil to sketch and compose the idea, giving only volume with shadows, already imagining which part of the body where I will fit my drawing.

Hand and Heart

Na segunda imagem crio outra camada para limpar as linhas do esboço anterior, usando uma caneta estúdio (como se fosse uma caneta nanquim no papel)

After that first sketch, I create another layer to clean up the lines of the previous sketch using a studio pen (as if it were an ink pen on paper).

handandheart__step 2 

Com as linhas ja limpas escondo a camada do esboço para enviar para a impressão do stencil.

With these now-clean lines, I hide the outline layer and turn it into a stencil print.

hand n heart__step 3

Com o stencil ja na pele impresso a partir da camada anterior, observamos um resultado prévio de onde ficará a tattoo, e esta pronto para começar e se divertir!

With the stencil printed on the skin, we see where the tattoo will be. I’m ready to start and have fun inking!

hand n heart__step 4 on real place in a skin

Nunca tive muita aptidão para desenho digital, pelo fato de ser muito complicado usar illustrator, photoshop e programas similares, era sempre necessário o uso de tablete e/ou monitores, um processo no qual exigia muito tempo e dedicacao para se obter um resultado.

Quando lançaram o iPad Pro, me disseram que eu poderia gostar, e que era para testar. E então testei imediatamente com o Autodesk Sketchbook, achei incrível a facilidade no manuseio e nas ferramentas disponíveis. A grande vantagem, na minha opinião, é poder estar o tempo todo produzindo, pela mobilidade e a facilidade no uso. O ritmo do trabalho ficou mais objetivo e menos “espaçoso”. Ainda uso papel e pinto com pincel e marcadores, mas para o meu dia a dia na tattoo, é uma ferramenta útil e eficaz. Espero que tenham gostado.

I never had much aptitude for digital design because it was very complicated to use Illustrator, Photoshop, and similar programs. It was always necessary for me to use a tablet with additional monitors, a process which it took a lot of time and dedication to obtain a result. 
When Apple launched the iPad Pro, people told me I might like it, so I thought I would test it. I immediately tested it with Autodesk SketchBook, and I found the ease of handling and the tools available to be incredible. The great advantage, in my opinion, is to be able to be productive all the time because of the mobility and ease of use. The pace of my work became more purposeful and more focused. I still use paper and paint with a brush and markers, but for my day-to-day tattoo it’s a useful and effective tool. 

hand n heart__final artwork pic

E finalmente o resultado na pele.

And finally the end result on skin: