Instructables
"The smoke hung heavy in the air and the sounds of the wharf drifted into the back room where they sat. The rifleman's face set in a steady grim expression concealing the pain as the deft hands of the bespectacled artist moved over his skin. A design flowing from her hands, indelibly left upon his arm."

I've always been intrigued by the concept of tattoo and expect I may one day break down and get a full on irezumi style one but many things hold me back:
  • Stigma - I know the folks and suspect the employer wouldn't be terribly thrilled
  • Persistence - will it still look good 60 years from now? Probably not and I doubt I'd want to go under the needle that late in life . . .which leads me to:
  • Pain - I know it's really not that bad but needles kinda creep me out . . .
  • Shifting Worldview - in the past year and a half my worldview has shifted drastically and seems the be always in flux. Alongside that my tastes are always refocusing elsewhere. If I get something done permanently then it had better hold some deep meaning and look awesome but since my perception of what looks awesome and my views change and I am sure always will . . .how will I know that what I value today won't make me retch in 60 years!?
  • And the big one: PRICE! The style and size I'm interested in is outrageously expensive for someone of my means so even if I was dead set on getting it I'd have to wait.
What to do? If only there were a way to solve all of these problems! Well, I'm here telling you there is! Go temporary!

Now, those little rubbery ones from when I was a kid look terrible and rub off oddly and are really only good for one thing . . . little kids! So a while back I decided that it'd be fun to draw with pen and sharpie on my hands and forearms. I got fairly proficient at it but it has drawbacks:
  • Easy to smudge while working (though for shading that is useful)
  • Hard to reach anywhere but select locations
  • Not much possibility for super fine details since skin tends to move a lot while working
  • Pens seem to dry out very fast.
  • The skin gets kind of irritated while working.
  • etc.
I had another idea today: draw it on paper with a ballpoint and then use water to transfer the design! I tried it out and it worked like a charm. Then I realized that it has been done before . . . seems to me that happens a lot . . .my great ideas/inventions are already out there! I want to be clear that, while this is my original idea, the idea itself is not original . . .so I present you with this how-to as my take and observations on this less drastic form of body modification and a place to show off some of my designs. Read on and I hope you enjoy!

 
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YES YES AND YES TO VERITAS!!!!!!!!!!

didnt show up too well, but still badass!
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and here, it looks pretty good i think! probably will do this with various designs before i get my real tatt (sorry about poor quality, webcam photos of legs are hard, hope you can see it, its a celtic knot shamrock.)
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Kaelessin (author)  darknessfalls3 years ago
agreed! i finally broke down and bought a "real" camera a while back . . .kudos tho! not bad for a web cam at all!

I've seen enough celtic knots (what being half irish how could I not!?) and there's enough in the photo to see it well enough. pretty badass! if you're interested in artistic input tho i'd move it up about 2-3 inches (hard to guage distance) so that it's more centered in the calf muscle. Personally, I'm all about tattoos accentuating the body rather than just being a separate picture that one carries around in their skin. These photos were slightly rushed but usually I try to work the contours of the body into the design.

Thanks for the comments!
well that was the first place i could think of to do a real test. that knot is a design ive been working with for almost a year now to get a real tattoo of, but thats a way off in the future
Kaelessin (author)  darknessfalls3 years ago
i know how that goes man! it's a shame these things are so expensive!
D: I wish I was capable of drawing like that, those are gorgeous!
Kaelessin (author)  radiosparrow4 years ago
Well there is a certain amount of "talent" involved in art but to be perfectly honest even the most talentless people can pick up incredible skill. Personally I feel "talent" is often misused to describe two skills: learning and precision. People see a great drawing or see how quickly someone picks up a pen and learns to use it and attribute that to their talent for art. I say these people have a talent for learning and for precision. It has taken me from the time I was allowed to take art electives back in junior high school till now (10 years or more now. . .gosh that's a long time) to be where I am and it will take the rest of my life to be where I will be then. unlike driving or walking, art is not a skill with a cap that you can learn and then wield indefinitely . . .I always say "seek improvement in perfection" because nothing will ever be as good as it can be with a bit more practice. I may post a gallery of my real drawings some time since these hardly reflect my favorite pieces . . .I'm quite a new learner when it comes to pen. . .pencil I'm way more comfortable with and give me a bit of clay and I'll be giddy for much longer! Anyway, I want to encourage you to just start drawing. everyone can draw stick figures. why? Not because they're simple (though that helps) but because everyone has drawn a million stick figures. You can draw letters on the page without even thinking of what you're doing . . .why? Practice! You've been doing it since you were in the wee grades of elementary school! If you would like to be good at drawing then just draw! It will look terrible to you at first but keep at it! If you want to learn to draw faces then just start doing it and tweaking things until they look better. the more you put pen (or whatever) to paper (or whatever) the better you will become. If you have time and money to spare then go ahead and take some drawing classes and they'll teach you things like shading and form. You'll be stuck drawing fruit and chairs but even though the subjects are boring the skills you will learn if you apply yourself are useful! If you ever want someone to critique your work then I'm more than happy to help!
JohnJY4 years ago
Excuse me, but what are the origins of the quotes you used throughout the Instructable? And had you though of re-drawing, shading, and detailing your tattoos after application in order to enhance color and lifetime? Do you believe gel ink would work better then other readily available inks?
JohnJY JohnJY4 years ago
Oh. Also allow me to say your perfect English is brilliantly done, and I am very happy to see such a well written, and detailed Instructable. I'd love to see more work like this, maybe you could explore henna, or test ink types to see which would leave a longer, and dark image. The pictures are of very nice quality and relate nicely. Great job!
Kaelessin (author)  JohnJY4 years ago
Hey, thank you for both of your excellent comments! The quotes you see throughout the instructable are mine. I have done this in most of my recent works so if you're interested, be sure to check out the my other projects! I aspire to a career in writing (fiction) so I try to get whatever practice I can.

I have indeed thought and done some redrawing as you suggested and it really does help. I just didn't have any pictures of it before the design wore off completely. I've not tried the transfer technique with gels but they do not write on skin very easily (compared to the oil based cheapo pens) . . . definitely worth looking into.

I've done henna as well but the preparations are much more complex than this . . . worth it to be sure but I felt that the ease I found with this method was remarkable.

Again, thanks for the wonderful praise!
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Rather impressive! I had some issues re-detailing the tattoo myself, because I hadn't realized at the time it would take to do it correctly, and without letting the ink smear, and even though doing that makes it darker and last longer, I had to redo the same design over and over, because I kept messing up, just from shaky hands. Your designs are complex too! I was just using a simple design... anyway, if you ever finish or have a finished piece of work, I'd love to view it! I can tell by the quotes you used that you can be a great author.
Kaelessin (author)  JohnJY4 years ago
Hey, thank you for both of your excellent comments! The quotes you see throughout the instructable are mine. I have done this in most of my recent works so if you're interested, be sure to check out the my other projects! I aspire to a career in writing (fiction) so I try to get whatever practice I can.

I have indeed thought and done some redrawing as you suggested and it really does help. I just didn't have any pictures of it before the design wore off completely. I've not tried the transfer technique with gels but they do not write on skin very easily (compared to the oil based cheapo pens) . . . definitely worth looking into.

I've done henna as well but the preparations are much more complex than this . . . worth it to be sure but I felt that the ease I found with this method was remarkable.

Again, thanks for the wonderful praise!
chndt20084 years ago
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Kaelessin (author)  chndt20084 years ago
That comment does not exactly follow the "be nice" policy does it? Constructive criticism is always better. For example: one could point out your poor grasp of English grammar or help by constructively explaining how to fix the issues . “You write Chinese characters really ugly” would be better written “Your calligraphy is poorly done” which still does not follow the policy but that’s not the point. Your verb “write” is being described by two words: “ugly,” which is in turn being modified by “really”. Ugly is an adjective and therefore is inappropriate to use in this context. They’re not really meant to be written with a ballpoint and ink distorts when wet (that transfer was already used). Furthermore, I do not speak/write Chinese (or Japanese from which I took this Kanji) so it is more like drawing than writing for me.
Hard to erase
My mom collects gel pens, I will try this! I speak and read a very little Japanese and I must say your Kanji was excellent. And you did it backwards. Also, you take excellent pictures, your writing style reminds me of Capote, and furthermore you draw beautifully! :P
Kaelessin (author)  Typogoddess4 years ago
mighty praise indeed! I have some background in fine arts so I will credit my training somewhat but surely there is always room for improvement!

Post your results! I'd be more than elated to see them.
Ekzile4 years ago
Tried out a Celtic Knot and it worked like a dream. Thanks.
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Kaelessin (author)  Ekzile4 years ago
Wow that triskele looks great! thanks for posting the pic!
Ekzile4 years ago
it that a real claymore?
Kaelessin (author)  Ekzile4 years ago
indeed it is! lol it cuts quite well too though I'm more skilled with the katana :D
thats cool!