Green Screen Tattoo: Video Killed the Radio Star

rick and morty green screen tattoo

Image from BuzzFeed

Recently, a tattoo clip from 2018 went viral again. It featured two favorite cartoon characters, Rick and Morty. That wasn’t what was impressive, though. It was the fact that it was a video!

Well…sort of.

The sweet tattoo was created by Roy Lee Rowlett. He read a concept of how a green screen tattoo could work and decided to bring it to life.

But is this the wave of the future for tattoos? Or just a temporary fad? Keep reading to learn all about it!

How Does It Work?


Image from Tim Lease Tattoos

So, we’ll start by ruining this magic trick right away. How does this seemingly interactive tattoo work? It’s through the kind of green screen (or chromakey) technology that Hollywood has been using for years.

In heavy FX movies like Avengers: Endgame, stars usually act in front of a massive green screen. Later, fancy computer technology can replace that green screen with anything from still images to complex video.

Nowadays, various green screen apps are available for your smartphone. You don’t need a tattoo to play around with this: you can grab an app and a green piece of construction paper and go to town!

This is what we’re seeing in the viral video: it is recorded by smartphone using one of those apps, and the app is replacing the green of the tattoo with video from the Rick and Morty TV show.

Why Green?

silly green screen weather

Image from Vidooly

This may leave you with a simple question: why are green screens green? As it turns out, there is nothing inherently special about this color.

The right chromakey apps could technically filter out a screen of any color. However, other colors (like brown or black) are likely to be in a person’s clothes, hair, shoes, etc. That means the app would suddenly make their bodies, faces, and feet look super weird!

Bright green was chosen as a color unlikely to appear on actors. Unless wardrobe gives someone a neon green shirt, they have nothing to worry about.

Lasting Appeal (Or Not)

powerpuff green screen tattoos

Image from Green Screen Tattoos

So when it comes to these tattoos, we have good news and we have bad news. The good news is that they are easy to get and easy to play around with: no special ink is required, and you can find a variety of cheap (and even free) chromakey apps for your phone.

The bad news is that these tattoos are only cool in context. Sure, it’s going to be amazingly impressive when you show it to someone at a party. But without a phone and a special app, you’re just someone with a bright green splotch of a tattoo.

Your mileage may vary, but this isn’t exactly impressive in the long run.

The Bottom Line

Now you have learned more about the green screen tattoo and how the “magic” works. But do you know where you can find out even more about the latest and greatest tattoo trends?

Here at Tattooing 101, we bring the world of ink to life each and every week. Be sure to bookmark our page for the latest tattoo news you can use.

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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