How to Design a Script Tattoo

Script tattoos are incredibly popular. Knowing how to design a custom script instead of pulling a font off the internet will take your design skills to the next level - and show shop owners that you understand how to incorporate flow into your work.

If you’re not sure how to add flow to your script tattoos, or how to create a new script style from scratch, you’re in the right place.

In this article, we’ll be breaking down:

  • Where to find inspiration for custom script
  • How to draw your own script tattoos
  • Why adding gray wash to your designs is important

Handwriting vs. Fonts vs. Script

There’s a big difference between the handwriting you use to write things down and creating a script tattoo design. Unless you naturally have amazing handwriting that you can work off of, you might want to start thinking about the different fonts that are out there. 

There are things like gothic font, cursive (the main one that you're going to see), traditional font, graffiti, and more.

Doing your research on these styles and trying to figure out the best way to do it or make it go with the tattoo that you're doing will be your first step.

Do Tattoo Artists use Computer Fonts?

While they can be used for inspiration, you want to make sure you are not just pulling fonts off Google, Microsoft Work, or places like DaFont.com. While they can auto-generate fonts for you, they will not take into account any of the other factors that go into designing a tattoo, like the flow of the body.

Any tattoo artist (and even a lot of clients) will be able to see that right away and know you’re not drawing your own fonts. This makes it hard to get new clients when they’re checking out your portfolio.

Additionally, if you are trying to get into a tattoo studio, any tattoo artist is going to clearly see that and wonder why you didn't just draw your fonts.

How to Draw Tattoo Script

1

Choose Your Brush

When it comes to drawing script on an iPad using the Procreate app, there are a couple of different brushes that'll help you out. For example, using a “chisel tip” will help you make script that looks like it’s “flowing.”

2

Guidelines

We recommend starting out with a red color for your guidelines and rough draft. 

While you’re mapping out your guidelines, you want to think about the flow of the body and where your client will be getting tattooed. For example, if your client is getting script on their wrist, you won’t have much room to work with. In this case, going with a more simple design would be best.

Script with Imagery

If you are designing script to go along with an image (and it’s not just script on your own), you want to make sure the image and the script flow with the body. 

For example, if you’re adding a banner to a traditional piece, you want to make sure you’re creating a guideline in order to get a flow for the design and know where your letters are going to go. 

Video Example

In the video, Brandon adds flow lines pointing out where the top and bottom of the script will sit, as well as a middle line. This is will be the guideline for the whole design. 

Note:

Some styles will not need the middle line. For example, if you’re doing all capital letters, you only need two lines because all of the letters are going to be the same size. But if your design includes both capital and lowercase letters, then you’ll need the middle line as a guide.

3

Rough Draft

When you first start drawing out your letters, you want to focus on each of the letters having the same flow to them and the correct spacing. If you start going into detail and spend a ton of time making everything perfect but the spacing is off, it’ll make the tattoo look awkward.

Script Tips:

A good rule of thumb for script is that your upwards stroke should be a thin line. On your downward stroke, the line should be thicker

When it comes to doing a lowercase “i,” you can do different designs. Stars, flames, and simple dots are all popular options. However, there's a ton of different things that you could do when it comes to doing a lowercase that can let you show creativity.

4

Final Design

If you’re working on an iPad, you can turn your opacity down on the rough draft and start working on your final layer. (If you are using paper, you would want to use a lightbox for this step).

In this stage, you're finalizing the design and making sure everything looks really clean.

Letter Design Shading

You can shade your script a few ways. First, you can do everything completely black (which is what Brandon is showing in the video). Or, you can start from the bottom and work your way up through the design, stopping about halfway with your graywash.

Adding Gray Wash Around the Script

Adding gray wash around the script in your design will give it a nice look while also filling in an area where the client can then get a sleeve someday. Or, if the client already has tattoos, adding gray wash around the script will fill everything in so that it looks good with the rest of their tattoos. 

On the iPad, you can put some shading behind the design and then use the eraser to go around the design. Or, if you're working on pen and paper, you could just go around and create a line around everything and fade up from that.

Adding this extra shading will make your design more impressive when you present it to your clients and show that you’re willing to go above and beyond for them.

Become a Tattoo Artist With the Artist Accelerator Program

Having a career in tattooing is not only fulfilling, but it’s also the most stable way to make a living as an artist. However, for decades, the process to become a tattoo artist has been notoriously difficult. 

The apprenticeship process requires aspiring tattoo artists to work 50-60 hours a week without pay for 2-4 years. That, combined with the toxic culture of abusing apprentices, makes getting into the industry almost impossible for newcomers. 

That’s why we created the Artist Accelerator Program. Our online course provides a simple, structured way of learning to tattoo that has been proven to work by over 2500 successful students, with many of them having gone on to open their own shops all around the world. 

Inside the program, we’ll take you through every step of the tattooing process in 9 clear, easy-to-follow modules and support you along the way within the Tattooing 101 Mastermind online community.

In the Mastermind group, you’ll collaborate with other students, get answers to your questions, and receive personalized video feedback on your artwork and tattoos from professional tattoo artists. With this friendly community of both new and experienced tattoo artists, you’ll never be stuck again. 

When you join the Artist Accelerator Program, you’ll have instant access to the full course and the Mastermind community, as well as our 30-Day Flash Challenge and recorded interviews with tattoo artists from all over the world. 

Click here to learn more about the Artist Accelerator Program

Looking for a tattoo apprenticeship?

Tattooing 101's Artist Accelerator 90 day program is the closest thing to a real apprenticeship

  • 500 video modules
  • Professional tattoo artist coaches
  • Private mastermind community
AUTHOR
Nathan Molenaar

Nathan is a licensed professional tattoo artist with over 8 years’ experience working at studios across the globe, including Celebrity Ink, the world's largest tattoo studio chain.

When he's not tattooing, he spends his free time sharing his experience and knowledge with aspiring artists who dream of pursuing a career in the tattooing industry.

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