13 Tips for Perfecting the Illustrative Tattoo Style

illustrative tattoo style

As a tattoo artist, you’ll need to be able to provide people with a variety of different types of tattoos over time. There are so many tattoo styles you’ll need to master to keep your clients happy.

But it’s the illustrative tattoo style that will prove to be one of the most popular options of the bunch. So when you’re still a new tattoo artist, you’ll want to work hard to perfect your skills to put yourself in a position to nail illustrative tattoo designs when people turn to you for them.

Are you ready to start perfecting the illustrative tattoo style so that you’re able to guarantee the satisfaction of your tattoo clients? We’ve created a list of 13 tips that’ll help you get better at the illustrative tattoo style in the months and years to come.

Take a look at these tips below and begin using them to take your skills as a tattoo artist to the next level.

1. Know the History of the Illustrative Tattoo Style

In order to perfect any tattoo style, you’re going to need to take the time to learn about the history of it. So before you start trying to get better at the illustrative tattoo style, it would be worth reading up on its history.

Illustrative tattoos have actually been around for centuries now. But they’ve evolved quite a bit and have grown to become a lot more detailed than they used to be.

Generally speaking, an illustrative tattoo will be almost any tattoo that could be turned into an illustration when drawn on paper. This loose description will provide you with a lot of freedom when you use the illustrative tattoo style. It’ll help to know this going in when you start utilizing the illustrative tattoo style while working on your clients.

2. Look Around for Illustrative Tattoos You Like

Once you know about the history of the illustrative tattoo style, you should also check out as many examples of it as you can to see what it’s all about. Google “illustrative tattoos” and you’ll be able to track down hundreds and maybe even thousands of examples that you’ll love.

You’ll be able to get a great sense of what makes illustrative tattoos different than other types of tattoos just by looking around for them. You’ll also be able to see which kinds of illustrative tattoos appeal to you the most.

Ultimately, you’re going to want to put your own twist on the illustrative tattoo style to make your illustrative tattoos different from everyone else’s. To do this, you’ll need to look at what your fellow tattoo artists have to offer.

3. Learn How to Draw Strong Lines

Strong lines are going to serve as the foundation for almost all of the different types of tattoos that you learn how to do. But they’ll be especially important when it comes to the illustrative tattoo style since there will be so many lines incorporated into them.

You can’t afford to have any of the lines you create for illustrative tattoos to be wobbly or undefined in the slightest. If they are, it might stop you from being able to tell the stories you and your clients want to tell through this type of tattoo.

You should get into the habit of practicing when it comes to drawing all kinds of lines. Work on creating lines that have different lengths, weights, and even arcs to them. It’ll help you to create nothing but clean lines when it’s time to put your skills to the test while creating real illustrative tattoos.

4. Focus On the Fine Art of Shading

One thing you’ll notice when you’re scoping out different illustrative tattoos is that they’ll almost always jump off a person’s skin and have a lot of life to them. As a tattoo artist, you’re going to need to inject life into the illustrative tattoos that you provide for people by focusing on the fine art of shading.

The shading you do when you’re creating illustrative tattoos will be what will make people’s tattoos jump out and force others to pay attention to them. If you aren’t able to master shading, it’s going to be hard to get this kind of reaction from illustrative tattoos.

Most of the time, illustrative tattoos are going to be done in black and white. As a result, you’ll need to strike the right balance of light and dark in these tattoos to create the kind of depth you’ll want to give to them.

It’s going to take some time for you to perfect the shading that’ll need to be done to illustrative tattoos. But when you get the hang of it, you’ll notice a big difference in how your tattoos look once they’re finished.

5. Consider How to Incorporate Color

As we just mentioned, many people will request illustrative tattoos from you that’ll be black and white in the end. But there will be at least some people who will want to work color into the mix.

For this reason, you’ll want to get into the habit of playing around with different colors within your illustrative tattoos. The key will be finding color shades that will complement one another while also working well with a person’s skin tone.

It’s often tricky to land on the right balance when you’re working colors into illustrative tattoos. To add to this, some clients might want some very specific colors incorporated into their illustrative tattoos even though they won’t always provide a natural balance.

Your goal should be to master the art of working various colors into your tattoos without going too overboard and having the colors distract from what’s taking place within the tattoo itself.

6. Practice With Tattoo Books and Monitor Your Progress

Tattoo books can be an invaluable resource for those new tattoo artists who are aiming to perfect the illustrative tattoo style. Many of the designs that you’ll practice when you’re using tattoo books will fit right into the illustrative tattoo style nicely.

Sit down with a tattoo book every day or two and work on doing things like drawing lines and shading until you feel like you have these skills down. Monitor the progress you’ve been able to make over time so that you’re able to see what you’ve improved at and what might still need improvement.

7. Try Your Hand at Drawing on 3D Objects

At the end of the day, the key to nailing the illustrative tattoo style will be practicing, practicing, and practicing some more. The more that you draw on both blank sheets of paper and in your tattoo book, the better you’ll be when it’s time to start creating illustrative tattoos.

But you should do more than just draw on pieces of paper to get better at drawing illustrative tattoos. You should also work 3D objects into the mix every so often to get a better feel for what it’ll be like to create these types of tattoos.

If you practice drawing on, say, a mug, it’ll make it feel more like you’re creating an illustrative tattoo as opposed to just creating a drawing on a piece of paper. It’s a creative way to get even better at drawing strong lines, shading, etc.

8. Put Synthetic Skin to Good Use

If you really want to make it feel like you’re a tattoo artist giving someone an illustrative tattoo, try getting your hands on synthetic skin. This “skin” will look and feel just like actual skin, but you’ll obviously be able to make mistakes when you’re tattooing on it without getting on a client’s bad side.

When you want to truly put your illustrative tattoo style skills to the test, synthetic skin will help you get the job done. You’ll be able to experiment with this style and work on creating strong tattoos that tell a good story.

9. Challenge Yourself With Different Types of Illustrative Tattoos

Once you begin providing clients with illustrative tattoos, you’ll quickly notice that there will be so many different types of illustrative tattoos they’ll ask for. In some cases, they might ask for you to give them a small tattoo of a well-known cartoon character on their forearm. In other instances, they might request that you fill their entire back with a very intricate illustrative tattoo that has a lot of moving parts.

While you’re still in the learning stage, practice by trying your hand at all different kinds of illustrative tattoos. You should alternate between doing small tattoos that are basic in nature and large tattoos that might take several sessions to finish.

10. Work On Listening to Ideas and Bringing Them to Life

You can work on perfecting all the technical skills that you’ll need to pick up to create the best possible illustrative tattoos. But if you don’t have the listening skills to match, you might find that you’ll fail to meet the demands of at least some of your clients.

Most illustrative tattoos are going to tell a story. You should be prepared to listen to the ideas that your clients have when they want illustrative tattoos so that you can recreate the story they want to tell while bringing their ideas to life and making them even better than they already are.

11. Develop Your Own Illustrative Tattoo Style

As a tattoo artist, you’ll come to enjoy doing illustrative tattoos for your clients a whole lot. This will be largely because they’ll provide you with the opportunity to put your own spin on them in many cases.

Your job will be to develop a unique illustrative tattoo style that separates your illustrative tattoos from tattoos created by other artists. You can do this by tinkering with the types of lines you draw and playing around with the shading that you do. It’ll make your illustrative tattoos start to stand out in the crowd.

12. Accept Constructive Criticism From Other Tattoo Artists

When you’re still a new tattoo artist, you will have so much to learn. It’s why you’re going to need to spend so much time working on perfecting the illustrative tattoo style in the first place.

It’ll be up to you to get your illustrative tattoos to a place where you’re proud of them. But even if you’re struggling to come anywhere close to this at the beginning, you shouldn’t let it discourage you.

Instead, you should turn to your fellow tattoo artists and ask them for feedback on the illustrative tattoos you create. They should be able to set you up with constructive criticism that’ll teach you little tricks of the trade.

13. Never Stop Learning About Illustrative Tattoos

We know we’ve spent a lot of time focusing on the fact that you’re going to be expected to “perfect” the illustrative tattoo style while working as a tattoo artist. But the fact of the matter is that you aren’t ever going to create flawless illustrative tattoos. There will always be small details that you can tighten up.

With this in mind, you should continue to look at the illustrative tattoos that other tattoo artists come up with to see what you can learn from them. You should also look at your own illustrative tattoos with a critical eye and offer honest assessments of what you could have done better.

By striving for perfection, you’ll find that your illustrative tattoos will begin to take on lives on their own. Your hard work will begin to pay off and lead to you creating better illustrative tattoos all the time.

Let Us Help You Perfect the Illustrative Tattoo Style

When you take courses at the Florida Tattoo Academy, you’ll get the chance to perfect the illustrative tattoo style. You’ll also be able to work on perfecting so many other tattoo styles.

We’ll make sure you learn the skills you’ll need to launch a successful career in the tattoo industry. We’ll also help you take the skills you have already and build on them to transform you into the best tattoo artist you can be.

Contact us now for more information about our tattoo courses.