Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tattoo Design Trial Run: How to Try on a Tattoo Before You Ink It

By Ben Swank

For those who are thinking about a new tattoo design, there is a lot of legwork to cover. And if you don't believe that to be true, then you might end up being one of those with ink that you hate. Gone are the days of just thumbing through a few dusty design books to find your (im)perfect design.

That is probably the worst decision you can make concerning your tattoo's appearance. It's increasingly common, thanks to the fact that more people are sitting down to get inked these days, and thanks to advances in tattoo removal technology. But the fact is that tattoo removal is imperfect, not entirely effective, and can lead to skin scarring and discoloration. You should never rush into a new design. Take your time before getting that design permanently memorialized on your skin. Here are a few tips to make sure you love that tattoo as much a year from now as you do today.

Your first step is to determine where the tattoo will be positioned. There's no sense in looking for a design just yet, because many designs only "work" in certain areas. For example, designs for hip tattoos often will not work as lower back tattoo desings. It's even a good idea to apply a similarly-sized temporary tattoo in your target location so that you can be sure that you like the placement.

Next choose your design: first narrow down your selection into a style of tattoo that you like, and then narrow it further by finding several designs within that style that appeal to you.

Now comes the fun part: you're going to try that tattoo on and model it for a few days. What you will want to do is grab several sheets of professional transfer paper that tattoo artists use in studios to transfer tattoo designs onto your skin. You can find samples on this tattoo finder blog. You'll trace your design onto the transfer paper (you can even use a lightbox), and then have a friend transfer it to your skin. Grab some fine-tipped, colored permanent markers, and have your friend fill in the design. It doesn't have to be perfect at this point; all you want to do is make sure that the size, location, and design are suitable.

Now you'll just observe that design in its natural habitat! Don't obsess over it, but glance at every time you pass the mirror, see how it works with the clothes you normally wear, make sure you can adequately cover it up when you need to, and be sure that you like the design and placement. Don't be afraid to try on more than one design either; often, your second or third design choice will actually suit you the best. It should only take a few iterations until you find a tattoo you'll love.

Additionally, if your tattoo will include a lettering style, don't limit yourself to what you see in the parlor's books. There are literally thousands of freeware fonts that you can download and install on your computer. You can use a graphics program (even a free one like gimp) to add the tattoo lettering to your design of choice, and then transfer it to your skin with the rest of the test tattoo. Like the design, you'll eventually find a font that is perfect for your new tattoo.

To some, this sounds like a lot of work, and that's true. But this tattoo will be with you for a lifetime, so you will want to do your research. Use a tattoo finder to locate a great design, browse through the many free fonts available online, and test drive all of the promising tattoo designs before you ink them permanently. Your effort will be rewarded many fold in the years to come. - 16651

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