How to Draw a Snake Tattoo Design

Drawing snake tattoo designs can be difficult, especially when it comes to the snake’s head shape. However, snake designs are super popular, and being able to draw them in a way that flows with your client’s body will take your designs to the next level. 

In this article, we’ll be breaking down how to draw a snake design from start to finish, including how to:

  • Use “snake brushes” in Procreate
  • Draw snake faces
  • Use Procreate’s reference and selection tools to make shading and coloring your design easy

Procreate Tutorial: The Best Way to Draw a Snake Design

iPad Tools that Save Time

Drawing in Procreate on an iPad can be especially helpful when you’re trying to draw snakes because you can get perfectly curved lines and use snake-specific brushes. 

For example, you can get pre-made brushes that look like snake scales. The thickness of the brush will also make it easier to keep the same width of the snake’s body throughout your drawing. 

Most snake brushes are pressure sensitive, which makes it easier to show how the body gets thinner near the tail.

Pro Tip:

Make sure your snake design flows with the body by following the natural “S-shaped” curves of the body.

Decide on the Snake’s Size

full snake Jake Miller
snake head Lonner

A tattoo of a snake’s full body will take up a lot of space because you need a lot of room to draw them correctly. “Squishing” a snake design into an area that’s too small will keep it from flowing with the body correctly. If you want to keep the tattoo smaller, you can just do the snake’s head. 

Use a “skin rip” to easily cut off the design without the tattoo looking unfinished. 

Note:

In this tutorial, Brandon explains how to draw a snake’s head. We recommend sticking with just the snake’s head if you’re new to tattooing. 

Draw the Snake’s Head and Body

In the first layer of your drawing, you’ll want to outline where the head of the snake will be with a circle. Using a “snake brush” on Procreate, you can outline the curve of the snake’s body. This will give you a good idea of how thick the body needs to be. 

With a Sketcher brush, mark where your skin rip is going to be. 

On a new layer, you can use a Sketcher brush to outline the snake’s body with bold lines. Remember that the snake’s body will be a little thinner near the neck and thicker near the belly. You’ll also want to show how the snake curves by showing the snake’s underbelly. 

Drawing the Snake’s Face

Each of the steps Brandon uses to draw a snake’s face are shown in the pictures below: 

Here’s a few things to keep in mind while drawing your snake:

  • The top of a snake’s head is more flat than round. To add flow to your design, you can also make the tip of the snake’s nose pointed.
  • Snake eyes are just ovals with thick lines going through OR a small circle at the front.
  • You can draw the tongue of the snake however you like, but American Traditional snakes usually just have short, forked tongues.
  • Snakes have two fangs on the top of their mouth and two fangs on the bottom. However, if the design looks better without the bottom fangs, feel free to leave them out.
  • Don’t forget to draw the “back line” of the snake’s mouth to show the inside of the mouth.

Adding Details to Your Snake

In this layer, you’ll add details to your snake. We recommend using a blue Sketcher brush for this layer.

Scales

Scales overlap, which means they won’t line up perfectly in a straight line. 

Body Design

Drawing every tiny scale on a snake’s body will make the design look cluttered, and it’ll take a long time to tattoo. 

Unless you’re doing realism, you can create whatever design you would like on your snake. For example, Brandon uses dots and circles to add detail to the snake’s body.

Fangs

You can add blood or venom drops coming off the fangs, or keep the fangs as they are. 

Create Your Final Snake Design

On your final layer, you’ll be going through and making sure that all your line work looks perfect. (There will be no “sketching” lines on this layer.)

In this design, Brandon uses a thicker brush because American Traditional tattooing uses a thicker liner. 

Remember to hold down your pen on the iPad so that Procreate will create perfect lines and circles. This will make your design look clean and professional, and it’ll make your stencil much easier to follow.

How to Add Shading in Procreate

When you’re shading, you want to make sure that the shading only shows up in the section that you’re working on. To do that, you will:

  • Create a new layer.
  • Click on the layer with your line work and choose “Reference.” This will let you highlight specific pieces of your tattoo design
  • On your new layer, select the pieces of your design that will be the same color
  • Switch to whatever brush you want to use, and color in your design.  

Because you’re only coloring on your selected pieces, you’ll always be coloring perfectly inside the lines.

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.

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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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