One of the most important things to focus on when learning how to tattoo is drawing. Learning how to draw basic things like clouds in multiple styles will help you appeal to more clients because you’ll be able to create specialized designs.

In tattooing, clouds are usually used as background elements, and it is important to be able to draw them so that you can add depth and flow to tattoo designs.

In this article we’ll go over how to draw clouds in two of the most popular tattoo styles:

  • Traditional Style
  • Neo-traditional Style

Once you’ve drawn a cloud in multiple styles, you’ll be able to see that even the most simple designs can look very different with small changes in style.

Two Ways to Draw Clouds

Traditional Style

Traditional designs use nice and thick lines, which makes them super easy to draw as long as you have your line work down. It’s important to practice your line work, because you’ll need it for both traditional and neo-traditional tattoos.

Building the Shape

When you're starting out, you want to think about how you want your cloud to look. Using a red sketcher pencil, you’ll start with a regular circle and build out the basic cloud shape. Depending on how you want your cloud to look, it could be circular, oblong, or it could even end in points. 

Once you have your circle, you’ll start with the basic structure - the “puffy parts” of the cloud. Some of the puffs will be bigger, and some will be smaller. Make sure your cloud doesn’t look too symmetrical, because clouds are always changing and moving in the sky, and you want your tattoo to show that. 

For this article, we’ll also add some lightning bolts to the cloud.

Finalizing Your Cloud

Once you have the basic structure of your cloud, you can go in with a blue pencil and trace over the basic outline. When you’re doing this second layer either on paper with a lightbox or on an iPad, you can still change things as you go. Once you get to your final layer, you don’t want to change things and have to erase parts of your design. 

When you’re done finalizing the shape of your cloud and lightning with your blue pencil, you can go in and trace over your final design in black to make a stencil

Keeping it Traditional

In nature, clouds move around and change shape, so you can make your clouds look however you want as long as you pay attention to your style. With traditional style, you don’t want to go too crazy with details. Use thick lines and super simple shading.

Neo-traditional Style

Just like our traditional cloud, you’ll start out with a red or sketch pencil. For neo-traditional clouds, you’ll start with the same basic shape and then add in a little bit more depth and detail to the design.

Adding Detail

For the neo-traditional cloud, we’ll build out from the basic circle and add more layers of clouds in front of and behind the main circle. 

With the neo-traditional design, you can play with how the shapes look and where the lightning is coming from. Try adding in some sharp edges with more detail to show extra depth and complexity.

Defining the Second Layer

Just like with the traditional cloud, you’ll want to go in with a blue pen to build out the second layer of your sketch. It’s okay for this part to take a fair amount of time when you’re just starting out, so don’t try to go through this too quickly.

As you trace your original shape, you can change little things to make your cloud look exactly how you want it. Stick to the basics of your cloud, because you’ve already set up where everything needs to go, but you can change up small things to make your cloud look really cool.

How to Get Professional Tattoo Designs Faster

prints of custom tattoos

We’ve talked about different methods you can use to make your own flash without copying other artists. Using these methods can still be difficult - especially if you’re new to tattooing and aren’t used to drawing with the flow of the muscles. 

However, without the right fit and flow, your tattoos will look awkward and limit your earning potential as a tattoo artist. 

For most artists, learning to draw with flow takes years of trial and error…

And it can be really hard to wrap your head around when you’re just starting out. The best way to get the hang of it fast is to look at references of other artists’ work and see how they did it so you can replicate it in your own work.

As you practice drawing and tattooing those professional designs, you’ll naturally learn how to create designs that have flow.

That’s why we created the Tattooing 101 Sketch Book. 

Inside, you’ll find 74 tattoo designs drawn for you by our professional tattoo artists. You can use them to inspire your own designs - or you can stencil them up and start tattooing right away.

Instead of hoping another tattoo artist doesn’t see that you’re practicing with their designs, you can rest assured that these are 100% for you to use however you like.

When you draw the designs inside or use them as tattoo stencils, you’ll get used to creating designs with flow, which means you’ll be able to draw tattoos that always look good on the body. If you would like to get your hands on a digital copy of 74 pro designs, hit the link below:

Tattooing 101 Sketch Book

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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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