Picture of Guitar Tattoo
Give your guitar a temporary tattoo with this instructable. This is a very simple and fun procedure, provided you have a few things:

Guitar to Tattoo
PhotoShop (or something similar)
Printable Window Decal paper (avery)
piece of paper (optional)
scanner (optional)

This is great because you can 'decorate' your guitar without damaging the finish! You'll be able to change out your guitar tattoo whenever you like. You can slap your name on your guitar. How about a picture of your significant other? Display the name of your band. Display the name of your bird. Whatever. Enjoy!
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Step 1: Preparation

Picture of Preparation
My first step was to draw the contour of the bottom right area of the body of my guitar. To do this I just set my guitar on a piece of paper and traced the edge... simple right?

Step 2: Design your Tat

Picture of Design your Tat
I scanned my traced guitar contour guide line into my PC and opened it in PhotoShop. Following the guide line contour I was able to create a 'tattoo' to accent the curve of my guitar.

If you know how to use layers in PhotoShop, put the traced guitar contour on a separate layer from the tattoo. Then before you print it, turn off the line layer. If you are not familiar with layers, just erase the guide line before you print.

Step 3: Finish Up

Picture of Finish Up
Now stick the window decal paper into your printer and print your tattoo. I usually let the printed decal dried for a while. Make sure your guitar is clean. Then cut out the decal, peel off the back and carefully put it on your guitar. That's it!

You don't even need to do the hole 'contour of the guitar' thing. As you can see in my final photo, just print out some of your favorite pictures and decorate! Pan, God of Music, graces the top of my guitar.
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meme42091 year ago
Thanks for this tutorial. I have been wanting to do something like this but knew that
to do something like this professionally would be exspensive. Also this way I can change it when I get tired of it.
Hollis6132 years ago
Great idea. Where did you find that pic of Pan?
taywill954 years ago
Would it be alright to print something out and make it into a stencil to sharpie onto the guitar? I'm wondering if I need to avoid it...
i've tried drawing on my guitar with sharpies before, the clear coat and the alcohol based ink keep it from being permanent. it will slowly wipe off completely, but the plus side is, you can wash any mistakes off with rubbing alcohol.
the trick is to remove the clear coat then draw.then add the clear coat
My advice to all of you who want to do this from a professional graphic designer: use illustrator or corel draw. using a vector drawing program will make your design have very sharp edges, thus making it look like more of a professional job.
potatojesus (author)  elijahlucian5 years ago
Agreed. The graphic on the bottom of the guitar pictured was done using Illustrator. Resizing will always stay nice & crisp. The upper graphic was a downloaded graphic and then adjusted using PhotoShop. The original graphic was slightly larger then the one I ended up printing for this guitar. The problem with Illustrator & PhotoShop for the average schlub is affordability (luckily I'm a graphic design student and only had to pay student prices for those over priced softwares). So for quick & easy guitar design... which will not be permanent... and can be changed whenever one wants, any graphic software would work out. For anything else more professional great care, design and proper software should be used. Otherwise, this is 'just for fun' and can be easily changed at will.
yeah. well i recommend 'artrage' for any hobbyist artist. full sketch and trace program for 25 bucks! cant go wrong
For people who don't want to pay out the ...nose... for Illustrator or coreldraw, Inkscape is a free vector graphics editor.
paqrat3 years ago
This is very cool.
bassdale5 years ago
What if you own a black guitar?, no raceism intended!
try making your image then making it negative so the black is white and viceversa
potatojesus (author)  bassdale5 years ago
humm, good question. I have a black decal on a black bass. Its really cool because it almost looks like a shadow. It's a very subtle graphic. But I can't really imagine anything showing up brightly on a black guitar. It would have to be a different type of printer... a professional vinyl printer or something. But the black decal I did on my black bass is pretty cool.
print it white, itll show up lol
no it wouldnt!
could you use a lighter color ink?
Projects are always fun when you do it yourself, but we do carry some pretty cool waterslide decals and you can get some amazing results. Check out some of the projects that our customers have done:
amcayanan4 years ago
Great idea! thanks for sharing.
where do you buy printable window decal paper from?
Staples, Office Max, online, etc
JKibs955 years ago
Sweet! Questions: 1: Do the tattoos come off? If so, do they ruin the finish of the guitar when they come off? 2:Wasn't Apollo the Greek God of music?
potatojesus (author)  JKibs955 years ago
1. Yes they peal right off and do not hurt the finish (providing you get the printable window decals... not stickers). 2. Yes but Pan also somehow represented music as well.
pan was the god of nature, apollo was the god of music.
potatojesus (author)  fatfoohy5 years ago
Pan, apparently, was a god of many things.

pan is also "bread" in spanish. maybe he was also god of food!
i thought it was japanese
i believe pan was a piper
pardusimo5 years ago
if water/sweat does get on it can it stain the guitar?
potatojesus (author)  pardusimo5 years ago
I've had the ink sweat off onto my guitar and it just wiped off wipe polish.... no guarantees though.
youy5 years ago
HI..I've got a strat and was wondering if this would work/damage the pickguard? anyone tried that or something similar? Cheers :D
mkkrushmt5 years ago
i was playing at a school picnic the other day and it started to rain. there were only a few drops, but where the water did hit the label it washed off the ink so its all spotted, it actually has a pretty cool effect. i think i might make some more this weekend. -Alec
potatojesus (author)  mkkrushmt5 years ago
Yeah, they're not waterpoof. I've sweat through one. But the beauty! is that you can always make more!
Lawlzorz5 years ago
Are you using a laser printer or inkjet??
potatojesus (author)  Lawlzorz5 years ago
I went to staples, but a 10 pack of inkjet decal paper was in the neighborhood of $40 US, seemed extremely steep to me, but oh well.
potatojesus (author)  guitarman63mm5 years ago
Wow, Expensive. I don't think I paid nearly that much at our Staples here.
How does this method compare to one of transparent paper -> laser printer -> guitar + clear coat? I read about a guy on who used that method for his logo. So a standard printer works? Can I change the color of the text? Will this paper dissolve under a lacquer or poly clear coat?
potatojesus (author)  guitarman63mm5 years ago
This is most likely inferior to an under coat method for 'up-close' views of the guitar. But if you're performing and people are looking at the guitar from a small distance, it looks great. Plus, the big benefit is that you can change your designs whenever you want without damaging your guitar. On Printable Window Decal paper, an ink jet printer will work fine... you can printed whatever colors you want. You can get this type of 'paper' at Staples or office max or online. I usually use staples. I am positive that ink jet inks, and probably the decal paper, would dissolve under a lacquer coating. I wouldn't advise that at all. Really, the purpose of this instructable was to make 'quick change' 'non-permanent' designs for your guitar.
Thanks, point taken. I suppose I'll stick to the transparency!
Night9106 years ago
this will work on a electric right?
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