Introduction: Temporary Ballpoint Pen Tattoo
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.
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.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
Unlike a lot of my instructables, this one is dirt cheap and everyone should have the required equipment at home!
You need the following:
- A sheet of white paper (I have not tried lined but it may transfer lines so blank is best)
- A ballpoint pen in a good color
- A napkin or paper towel and some water
- A concept
- A patch of bare skin to serve as your design's final resting place
- Reference material (helpful if your idea needs visual aid to draw)
- More colors of pens (I like dull green blue and black for a traditional look but any color is possible)
- Sharpie (or other permanent marker) in a super fine point for finishing touches or additional details after transfer
Read on for instructions on making your transfer.
Step 2: Creating the Transfer
"The room was silent except for the scratch of their pens upon the page. The master scribe strolled among them, a look of approval creeping into his features"
Once you've decided where you wish the tatoo to be get your plain white paper and cut a piece of it slightly larger than the area you wish to cover. This is easiest if your chosen area is mostly flat but if you make trianglar cuts radially you could, theoretically, create a design to go over a more complicated area like your elbow. I recommend starting simple though.
Take your pen and draw the design on the paper but make sure it's flipped horizontally. When you go to transfer it it will become reversed. This is especially important if you're using any kind of text or numbers.
I like to draw in some guidelines (read about the rule of thirds) with pencil to help me with composition and erase them later. Make sure you draw carefully since every little detail will transfer including any mistakes . . .If you mess up simply start over.
Some people are not artistically talented (read: some folks simply can't draw) and that's fine! Using a light table, or a piece of glass and a flashlight, you can trace a design that you've printed out. Experiment with different amounts of pressure and shading with the ink. Most people don't know that you can create a nice even gradient of value using a single ballpoint! You could also experiment with different types of shading like crosshatching or stippling for different effects! Just remember, if you can get it onto the paper you can create it on your skin; that's the beauty of this technique!
Once you're done you are ready to transfer your design. Read on to find out how!
Step 3: Applying the Transfer
"His trembling hands reached forth and carefully, slowly, and with an air of near reverence, peeled back the paper to reveal the design."
Clean the spot you want the design with soap and warm water and make sure it's dry. You could skip this but I find a clean slate works better.
Moisten a piece of paper towel or napkin slightly larger than the transfer but make sure it's not super wet . . .just short of dripping is ideal.
Carefully place the transfer ink side down on the spot making sure it's aligned properly. If it's in an awkward spot simply get someone else to help you out! Then place the moistened pad onto the transfer and apply pressure for about 20 seconds. As you squeeze the water will seep through the paper and cause the ink to bleed in a very controlled manner . . . right onto your skin.
After your 20 seconds or so gingerly lift the moistened pad (the paper usually comes with it) and admire your new design! Pat it dry with a new paper towel or napkin and let it air out for a bit to give the ink a chance to set.
Depending on the kind/brand/ink type of pen you use, these can last quite a while assuming you don't scrub the area. If you need to get the thing off quick then something like Lava Soap (or Gojo or Fast Orange) will work wonders.
Step 4: Detail and Touchups
"Nothing is perfect, nothing is pure, nothing is easy, nothing is sure."
The transferred tattoo will always be somewhat lighter than the actual drawing so at this point it makes sense to use your fine tipped pen to outline some areas or add emphasis/outlines etc. This step is optional of course but can really make the image "pop".
No need to go overboard here, the point of this method is to avoid the trouble of having to draw on skin. A couple deft strokes here is all you'll really need.
Step 5: Rock Your New Ink and Take Some Photos!
"They sauntered down the street with an almost insulting over confidence. The others lay in wait down the alleys and gripped their knives hungrily."
That's it really! Now go out and show off that ink to the world because you now are a temporary bad a$$!
Post some pictures of your designs for us to see as well eh?