Introduction: Spit Shading 101

In this very simple and easy to follow Instructable, I will be showing you how to recreate the old techniques used by tattooers over the last hundreds of years.

Step 1: Materials

First and foremost you can use any brushes, paints, and or watercolor paper. These are just the materials that I have found work best for me over the years.

1 sheet of Arches cold pressed-140lb watercolour paper

2 Winsor & Newton round sable brushes, 2 different sizes (pictured are sizes 1&2)

Black permanent ink pens to line your image with

Black india ink for the shading technique

Any watercolor colors of your choosing (Dr.Ph Martins are a personal favorite)

*Optional* Coffee grounds and brewed coffee for worn/antique effect on paper

Step 2: Tracing Your Image to Your Watercolor Paper

Due to the thickness of the watercolor paper you will need to trace the image to the watercolor paper using a light box of some sort. If you do not have access to a light box you can always just sketch onto the paper itself and then erase after you outline the image.

Step 3: **Optional Step**

Coffee staining the paper is not necessary by any means but I have found it to make for a very pleasing worn or antique effect

Wet the paper with coffee, any type as dark or light as you want.

The more layers applied the darker the paper will get. As you see I also applied grounds to the paper while it was wet to give it a more stained look, not such an even look.

This step will take the longest unless you can find a hair dryer somewhere within your house!

Step 4: Spit Shading

Spit Shading is a very simple technique and concept but take a lot of control as well as practice. Essentially what spit shading is is the replacement of water to make colors lighter. You are literally using your spit to control the amount of pigment that you blend outwards away from the original pigment.

In the first picture I am applying the black to the dry watercolor paper

Secondly, I am prepping the area where the black will start to fade into a gradient with just the lightest amount of spit (This is done with a different brush. You will essentially have two brushes in your hand at all time. One to lay the pigment down and one to fade it out with, a clean brush)

In the third picture you begin to see the black pigment mix with the wet spot on the paper in combined with the spit that is already on your brush

Lastly, is the finished gradient fade

The reason you use your spit is because with your spit/tongue you can control the amount of moisture the brush has as where dipping it in a cup of water you aren't able to tell how much water the bristles are holding.

Step 5: Spit Shading Applied to Your Drawing

Use the method in the last step to lay down your smooth black and gray transitions to build value in your piece before you add color.

Remember , the more ink that is applied on the paper the longer the gradient is going to be. Make sure you only apply the slightest amount of black to the paper, a lot goes a long way.

If you happen to be shading out and the gradient is taking too much of the paper, too dark, there is too much pigment on the paper. Make sure to let it dry and then add less to the paper once it is dry enough to work again.

Step 6: Color!

Due to the black India Ink being permanent you can just go straight over all the areas with the colors of your choice. As you can see in some of the areas I colored I also used this method of spit shading to blend out the colors for a depth effect.

This is the final and last step of the making and process of spit shading! Thank you all who stuck through it, I hope this has helped your practice as well as gaining knowledge to the art associated with tattoo culture.