Jan 182015
Colourful Sleeve Nature Tattoo Design from Dark Design Graphics

Designing A Nature Tattoo

Finally a full colour, full sleeve, nature tattoo design completed! And it definitely took long enough. Anyone who knows my work would know I much prefer working with graphite pencils in the grayscale range. But the great thing about doing custom tattoo designs is you never know what you are going to be asked to do and as I mentioned in my Geisha Tattoo Design write-up I always jump at the chance to try something different and add to our portfolio.


I absolutely love the natural world and there is nothing like being asked to portray it in a custom, full sleeve, full colour tattoo design. But what makes this one even better is this is a repeat customer for me and is to go along with my previous full sleeve, Epic Marine Vs. Alien Space tattoo design. I honestly can not wait to see both of these fully inked up on my customer.

Colourful Kingfisher Drawing Tattoo Design

A Colourful Sleeve Tattoo

Although I have used coloured pencils before in my previous designs they have only really been for small sections of a design and while I have always enjoyed adding a splash of colour to these tattoos, colouring in a full design is a totally new ball game to me. Working with coloured pencils is a completely different technique to using graphite pencils as essentially while also showing where the light and shade is, you have to show the base colour, reflections, contrasts and many more things with a range of colours that often do not even match what you are drawing! Needless to say I practised a lot before getting to work on the final design of this tattoo, I must have tested every single part of it on a separate piece of paper.

But even better than all that, I got some fantastic tips from Corrina Thurston, a colouring pencil expert, after noticing a brilliant Kingfisher drawing on Facebook. Take a look at some of her incredible drawings on her Facebook page and her website. Not only did she consider my amateur questions but took her time to come back with the most useful tips that helped me to think of this design from a whole new perspective.

Full Colour Full Sleeve Tattoo Design from Dark Design Graphics

Tattoo Design Layout

The idea with this design was to create two parts to the full sleeve, the top part with the Malayan Tiger would represent the jungle enviroment and the bottom part with the Kingfisher and wildflowers represents local, English wildlife. I decided to create the design with the different sizes in mind. I did not want the layout to be a mix of different features at non related sizes, I decided to start from the back with the tiger being in the distance. My customer did not want to have an aggressive looking tiger so with that in mind I decided to add water in between the two different halves, this way the Kingfisher would be near its natural habitat and the tiger would be walking through a tranquil scene.

Nature Tattoo Design Concepts from Dark Design Graphics

The flowers look great, and I think cheating the scale works really well to give a sense of depth and perspective to the image.

Nature Tattoo original Concept from Dark Design Graphics

A Peaceful Tiger Tattoo

Creating a tranquil or peaceful looking tiger in this design was a bit challenging. Although there are many ways to do this, being a full sleeve design the best way the tiger was going to fit was if the body was stretched down the arm. The reference image I used didn’t particularly look one way or the other, but with the body twisting down the arm it gave the impression it was stalking prey. So I decided to use the surroundings to try to give the design a tranquil quality, being a nature tattoo design this meant I could add the rippling water effect, surrounding bamboo leaves and malayan jungle look to create the tigers natural scene.

Full Sleeve Kingfisher & Tiger Tattoo Concept from Dark Design Graphics

The ripples and reflection in the pond surface looks really nice too and adds so much to the image. It’s progressing really nicely, thanks again!

Tiger drawing Nature Tattoo design from Dark Design Graphics

Kingfisher Tattoo

When creating a colourful sleeve, nature tattoo, what better bird to include than the incredible Kingfisher and for someone who doesn’t often use colours in my designs what could have been more of a challenge. With the bright and colourful flowers surrounding it, the bottom half of the sleeve was going to be a huge contrast to the Malayan Jungle in the upper sleeve. I tried to add a huge variety of well known English flowers from the larger roses near the top to the tiny Forget-me-nots towards the bottom.

Nature Tattoo original Concept from Dark Design Graphics

My first concept for the Kingfisher had the bird perched on a twig looking to the right, my thought was to have it sitting peacefully in amongst the English wild flowers. The Kingfisher would look stunning whatever I had it doing but my customer rightly mentioned the reason for having it in the design was to include the beautiful wings so we decided to go with the bird, wings spread, mid flight.

Kingfisher concept nature tattoo design from Dark Design Graphics

This is looking really fantastic! The colours of the kingfisher look stunning and the wings are just beautiful.

Kingfisher drawing nature tattoo design from Dark Design Graphics

Full Colour, Full Sleeve, Nature Tattoo Design

This has easily been one of the most challenging designs for me to date. But has possibly given me the biggest sense of accomplishment, not just because I really liked the design but because I probably learnt more techniques doing this one design than I had with all my other drawings in the last year. It is far too easy to stay within your comfort zone, knowing that you are not going to go wrong. But for artists learning a new technique or skill is one of the best experiences, it is something you will use over and over again and can only improve on. I would also like to mention the artist Sarah Jane from Sarah Jane Brewster who gave me a few ideas when it came to this design.

Full Sleeve Full Colour Nature Tattoo Design from Dark Design Graphics

Tiger & Kingfisher Nature Tattoo Design from Dark Design Graphics

Nature Tattoo Design from Dark Design Graphics

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  3 Responses to “A Full Colour, Full Sleeve, Nature Tattoo Design”

  1. like you I am used to working with graphite pencils..have avoided colour tattoo designs till now! Was inspired by your coloured pencill images.

  2. […] Full Colour, Full Sleeve, Nature Tattoo Design […]

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