Flames and smoke are classic tattoo design elements that you’ll want to have in your arsenal as an artist. They can help you easily improve the flow of any design. If you struggle with drawing realistic-looking flames and smoke, use this tutorial to get yourself started.
In this article, we’ll explain how to use Procreate to design tattoos with flames and smoke, including:
Flames and Smoke Tattoo Tutorial
You’ll want to use different layers for the different steps in this design.
Flames flow nicely into each other, so you don’t need to worry about perfectly straight lines. You’ll want to focus more on creating a realistic shape for the flames.
Choose Your Brushes
For flames and smoke, choose brushes that allow you to create flowing lines and shapes. We like the Murder Weapons set by Dave Tevenal. The set comes with a collection of particle smoke brushes that give flames a realistic look.
The harder you press down with the brush, the thicker your lines will be. If you’re using a thin brush or pencil, you will need to gauge how thick you want your flames to be, and draw two lines to outline them. With the particle smoke brushes (or a similar set), you can use thick single strokes. Later, you’ll come back and use the edges of your thick lines to create an outline.
Consider Body Shape
The shape of your flames will depend on where on the body you are tattooing. Consider the natural flow of the body, and what direction your flames should go.
For example, on an arm tattoo (pictured above), your flames and smoke will need to follow the shape and flow of the arm. Your design will also need to be narrower than a design for a larger area, like in a back tattoo.
Tips for Shaping Your Flames:
Draw a Basic Sketch
Create a new layer for your sketch. Using your guideline layer, create a natural, flowing shape for your flames. This layer doesn’t need to be perfect– you’ll go back over it later to create a final outline.
Erase and edit this layer as many times as you need to until you feel happy with your design. The more you go over your lines, the thicker and darker they will be.
Finalize Your Flames
Hide your guideline layer and turn down the opacity on your sketch. Create another layer on top of your sketch for your final design of the flames.
Using a thinner brush, outline the flames with strokes that flow together. Try not to use perfectly straight or disjointed lines.
When you are satisfied with the outline, you can hide your sketch layer so that the only layer visible is the final design. You can then add a top layer to color and shade your flames.
The process of drawing smoke is similar to drawing flames, but when tattooing, the two are very different. You can use the same guidelines you used for your flames– smoke will follow the same general shape and flow.
There are two things that separate smoke and flames when designing tattoos:
Use Negative Space
When drawing smoke, follow the same steps we outlined for flames. Choose your brushes, create guidelines, draw a basic sketch, then outline your final design as a stencil.When it’s time to tattoo the design, you will tattoo the negative space in your stencil. Instead of tattooing in between the two lines of your outline, you’ll shade outside the lines (see images below).
Shading is added outside the stencil to create a smoke effect.
Smoke can take up as much space as you want. You can use it to fill in space on a larger tattoo, like a sleeve.
Smoke wafts all around, rather than being confined to a certain area like flames. You can add a realistic touch to your smoke by putting some behind other objects in the tattoo. Above, you can see some smoke floating behind the candle– this adds depth to the tattoo.
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