Friday, August 04, 2006

Japanese Dragon Tattoo

In sticking with "traditional" Japanese images, tattoo number six is a Japanese dragon. So far, nothing for (inside joke)

So far for the dragon, the breakdown goes like this:

Session 1: 3.5 hours. Full outline.
Session 2: 2.5 hours. Scales and detail.
Session 3: 2.5 hours. Shading.
Session 4: 3 hours. base coloring.

Total: 11.5 hours - and it's not done yet...!
(The 11.5 hours doesn't count the time taken to decide what colors to use, the freehand drawings, or the Jaeger or Bushmills breaks - that would put it at around 16 hours).

I'm probably looking at three more sessions. Unfortunately I only thought to take pictures after session 1 and session 4, and just a small slice of session 3, so some of the development is missed. Regardless, here is the original outline after the first session. Everything is custom. Basically, Mike (the guy who drew and tattooed it) drew the head freehand on paper, and transfered it to my chest. Then with a sharpie and some highlighters, he drew the body, arms, legs, fire, etc. freehand:

Session 1

Basically, everything behind the ears and horns were drawn freehand right on my shoulder and arm. You'll notice the lack of scales, shading, etc. This is just what is unofficially known as the "battle outline".

Image Hosted by
Session 3

This is an image of the tattoo after session 3 - since I didn't take a full pic of it, I had to grab this from the lower corner of the picture I took after session 4. At this point, this section still hasn't been touched since session 3. You'll see the scales (added during the 2nd session) and the shading, which was done during session 3. You can compare this to the same section (just below the claws) in the above pic of the first session.

Session 4

This is after session 4. It is hard to see because of the flash, but three different shades of blue are used on the head, and every scale is colored seperately, the base is a bluish-purple, and the outer edge is a lighter blue, with a sliver of negative space (skin) left at the outside edge of each. This is right after it was done, so the ink is very thick and dark. In a few weeks all the excess ink will come out, and it will look more uniform.

So far maybe 1/5th is colored. The next session will continue the scales, most likely the other details will wait until after that. The current plan is for the underbelly to be pink, the horns along the back will probably be red, as well as the tongue. The fire will of course be orange-yellow, and the eyes will stay as is, but will have some white added. The horns on the head, which are based on deer antlers, will be brown. Still not sure about the claws. Might go with white.

Even though this was the 4th session, I didn't know until I sat in the chair which color we were going to do the dragon. Originally, the plan was to do a dark pine-green, but we eventually decided to match the colors of the two hannya on my back - one is red with blue eyes and a blue tongue, and the other is blue with red eyes and a red tongue. I'm not the artist, so I leave the details to Mike. So I think the assumption here is that I'll be getting a similar dragon on the other arm, with the colors reversed. But that would put at least another 20 hours ahead of me with what I need to finish on this one, and the next one, and those needles are not particularly fun. Sort of like a Japanese "gaman taikai" type TV show.

For the heck of it, I played around with photoshop, and this is what I came up with. I thought it was interesting:


  1. So far that's hella sick ! ! My man Gabe just recently had a tough tat in the same vein / style on his calf. The Dragon is coming along nicely. Always an excellent choice. Especially seein' as I'm a friggin dragon myself! ! Can't be beat! Take more flicks! !

  2. Damn! That's one of the best dragon designs I've seen around.

  3. how much did it cost

  4. that's finished?

  5. No, it's still unfinished in that image. Dragon Tattoo Part 4 had the finished image, but wherever it was housed is down now. Eventually I'll get an image back up there.