For many tattoos, clouds are a great way to fill in spaces between elements. As a tattoo artist, it’s important to know how to tattoo clouds because using that filler space will make your tattoos flow on the body.
In this article, we’ll be breaking down how to tattoo clouds, including:
How to Tattoo “Filler” Clouds
Draw Clouds Directly onto the Skin
While you can include clouds in your stencil, we recommend drawing clouds directly onto a person’s skin with a brand new pen or Sharpie.This allows you to work with their muscles better. The goal is to make your clouds flow with the shape of your client’s body because that will make it look like the design belongs on their skin.
Do not reuse pens and Sharpies for different clients. Always throw away a marker that has touched skin at the end of the tattoo.
There are different ways to go about tattooing a cloud. Of course, for a more “cartoon” look, you can include a hard outline around the cloud. Or, if you want a more realistic look, you can create clouds only using shading.
Clouds With an Outline
When tattooing clouds, remember to make sure you have a good pivot point. You’ll need to make a lot of fluid motions like circles, so you want to make sure that you’re stable and comfortable.
As with any other tattoo, you’ll go through and do the linework first before getting into shading.
Then, we recommend using a smaller mag to shade the clouds because you can get into smaller sections and create nice transitions.
Cloud Shading Techniques
When shading clouds, it’s best to use whip shading and pendulum shading so you can build up tones for your clouds. Make sure you are cross hatching using fluid and smooth motions.
Depending on how dark you go, you can change the look of the clouds. If you go darker, they will look more like storm clouds. If you go lighter, you’ll have more heavenly clouds. How dark or light you go will change the whole feel of the tattoo.
Clouds Without an Outline
For clouds that only use shading, you’ll use the exact same methods listed above…just with no linework.
However, since there are no lines to visually hold everything together, you have to be very careful about where you're putting in your shading.
If you go too far off track, you'll completely lose the whole effect of the tattoo. It won't look like clouds, it'll just look like little patchy areas everywhere. (This is why we recommend using a smaller mag, because it will be easier to control when you get to smaller areas of the cloud.)To help make sure you can see exactly where your needles are going into the skin, you can hang out your mag a bit more than usual and “float the needle.” The tiny space between the cartridge and the skin will make it easier to watch ink entering the skin so you can move exactly where you need to go.
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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.
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