How To Draw Tattoos For Beginners

Drawing A Tattoo

Learning how to draw tattoos as a beginner you need to understand what the tattoo artist wants. They don’t always want or need a complete finished picture. What they do need is a clear and accurate line drawing that can be sized to fit different customers needs.

Even if they have finished artwork, they may well change the colours for specific customers. The same drawing of a rose can be coloured in red, yellow or even black. This will create very different looking tattoos.

Most tattooists adapt and customise a tattoo without even thinking about it. This makes it more individual for the person being tattooed. So, as long as they have a good line drawing to work from, they will be able to use the artwork.

What most tattoo artists want is something new and unusual. So try to develop your own style. Original work that is different will attract the eye of a tattoo artist more than a retake on an existing design. However good it is, another picture of a dragon is unlikely to stir their creative juices. They probably have a drawer full already.

How Do You Start Drawing A Tattoo?

Start drawing a tattoo by sketching a simple line drawing of the picture you have in mind. Copy the design about 5 or 6 times. Then draw in the main lines of the design with more solid, smooth single lines.

Try changing parts of the drawing to see how it affects the appearance of the final picture. Create 5 or 6 slightly different drawings and analyse which is the best.

Once you have done this you can create the final line drawing. This is the drawing that will become the stencil for the tattoo. When you have the line drawing finished, copy that about 5 times and try colouring it or finishing it in different ways.

First do a shaded pencil drawing to show what the tattoo could look like done in Black and Grey. Then you can try colouring and shading the other copies in different ways.

Show Different Ways A Tattoo design Can Be Used

If you show the tattooist how the design can be used in different ways, he doesn’t have to think about it.

If one piece of flash art can create several different tattoos easily, that gives the tattoo artist more options.

The final picture needs to grab peoples attention, even when it is in a book with hundreds of other tattoo designs.

Some Classic Rose Tattoo Drawings and The Finished Tattoo

Doing Everything In The Reverse Order Can Work

You can do the whole process in reverse. If you have a finished drawing you can take some tracing paper and try to draw a line drawing that will guide the tattoo artist so he can reproduce the image.

This is something tattoo artists have to do all the time, but it increases their work load so if you can do it for them you are more likely to get a good reaction.

Doing it this way can work, but it can be difficult to simplify some pictures enough while still keeping the details needed in a stencil.

What To Practice Drawing For Tattoos?

Smooth, steady lines are what you need to practice the most. Keeping the thickness and spacing of your lines consistent is vital.

One of the exercises I do is to draw a single, curved, twisty line from one side of the page to the other. Next, draw a second line parallel to the first, following it precisely. Try to keep the line smooth and the gap between the 2 lines the same from one end to the other. You will need to repeat this over and over again until the whole page is covered by lines. Try to keep all the lines and the gaps equal distances apart.

When you look at the design afterwards you will see where you have done it better and the places where you have not done it so well. Keep practicing and you will see your results improve.

You will need to practice every aspect of your drawing skills. We have some fantastic FREE Drawing Tutorials here. Don’t get frustrated. It can get boring doing the same thing over and over again, but it is worth it in the end.

Practice Makes Perfect When It Comes To Drawing And Tattooing

Can You Be A Tattoo Artist If You Cant Draw?

No, not really.

To be a tattoo artist you really do need to be able to draw. However, even if you cant draw now, everyone will get better the more they practice. I would never have considered myself good at drawing, but years of practice have honed my skills to a point where it would no longer be true for me to say “I can’t draw”.

Practice may never make yours or my drawing perfect, but it will always make it better. The more hours you spend practicing anything, the better you will get at it.

Should I Learn To Draw Before Tattooing?

Yes, before you tattoo anyone you need to learn how to draw. As a tattoo artist you are about the leave an indelible mark on someone’s skin. They should be able to be confident that the results will be what they want. If you can’t draw the image in the first place why would someone trust you to tattoo the image on their skin forever?

Practice Drawing Different Things And In Different Styles


Learning how to draw tattoos can be a long and arduous task. It will take a lot of practice, but if you get really good there is a chance that you can make a success of either selling tattoo flash designs or even doing some tattooing yourself if you can get some training.

Practice diligently and stay focussed on your goal. Go and talk to some tattooists about what they want from a design. If you can supply them with a service they need which reduces their work load they will be smiling.

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