For many years I've had the practice of taking photos of my clients' blank body parts, printing the photos at low contrast, and then doing my sketching directly on these photos. It's a great way to get an overall scope of the shape and flow of the design and to make it fit the body nicely. It's not always possible to get blank body photos though, and the extra steps are sometimes hard to make the time for... that's why I'm so psyched that Memento Publishing, who brought us the epic Tattoo Prodigies and Tattoo Prodigies 2 books, has released The Body Sketch Book. It's a classic spiral bound paperback sketchbook made using high quality Canson acid free drawing paper, but it comes with the blank body parts already printed on its 150 pages, low-contrast and ready to use, both for upcoming clients and just for doodling new tattoo ideas.
Having the body part available isn't just for making your drawing fit the client. Working directly on the images in The Body Sketch Book is a great way to inspire yourself to think in terms of flow and fit, which can lead to different approaches to design, even in cases where you don't have a client and are just wanting to draw. The body parts are printed in non-photo blue, so you can use a photocopier to duplicate your drawings with the body parts invisible. This item is highly recommended, and would be a perfect low-cost gift for your favorite artist. Or just treat yourself- in my experience, anything that can give you a good start in your tattoo drawings will put you ahead of your game. We have it now at the Tattoo Education online store.
Lettering has always been important in tattooing, and in recent years it has been taken to new artistic heights, notably by California's Jack Rudy starting in the 1980's, and more recently by artists such as B.J. Betts, whose Street Shop Lettering books have been popular here at Tattoo Education since we started carrying them several years back. In recent years, Big Meas has made a name for himself in the tattoo industry for his dynamic and expressive lettering style. He's just released a DVD, Iron Sharpens Iron, which I think will be a game-changer in the lettering field.
For tattooists wanting to gain a mastery of lettering, there is so much more to it than just having a catalog of cool fonts. Part of it is about understanding what makes good lettering work visually, which is something that Meas goes into in great detail. The first half of the DVD talks about drawing lettering, showing a number of different types of markers and brushes, and the types of lettering that each are best suited for. He demonstrates how to get good spacing, proportion, and flow into your lettering, including ways to optimize the way that it fits the body part where it's going. Then, in the second half, he shows you his setup, then demonstrates the different steps in drawing the lettering onto the client using markers, then the different steps taken in executing the piece. It's a tight, nicely done production, one of the better that I've seen in the tattoo industry, with every part of the tutorial being useful and enjoyable to watch. I highly recommend Iron Sharpens Iron, available now in the Tattoo Education online store.