The minute I began this family tattoo design I was passionate about getting it right, this custom tattoo was to include a portrait of my customer’s son, this was, no doubt, a personal and important project for my customer. It is always an honour when asked to do portraits of loved ones.
Leo Symbol Tattoo
After reading the brief I understood that there was to be a level of subtlety to the design and the focus was to complement the qualities of his child and his birth sign. The portrait itself had to be harmonious, so, for this reason, I thought the lion’s head would be fitting as the headpiece of this family tattoo as Leo’s are known for their majesty, this was to be softened by the gentle use of roses, doves, cherubs and of course his son’s portrait.
After seeing many great reference images of my customer’s little boy from his wedding day, I studied, looking for a good photo to use on the portrait section and eventually settling on the one I liked best. A very nice shot of him at the wedding, dressed up and looking smart in an oversized shirt and tie, it was a very charming snap of him looking content, staring right at the camera, this was an excellent photo to base my artwork on.
So, having selected this image I made a start on the concepts beginning with the majestic lion, from here I was inspired to include some foliage, with leaves and flowers creating a nice framework for the next additions of large roses, doves cascading from branches, and a cherub figure sitting within the foliage.
Positioning A Portrait
Afterwards, I examined my rough preliminary sketches and added in the portrait which would be positioned close to the heart of my customer once tattooed, this was finished off with a pair of doves and a touch of foliage. My customer, loved the initial concept once revealed, and only requested one small change, once done the work was approved and I advanced onto the final piece…
I was really looking forward to this stage and got straight to work, after the usual canvas preparations it was straight on to the final design. Once I had a good foundation, I decided to move forward with pure watercolours. It was nice to be using watercolour again after having not done this on previous designs for several months.
I started off by using a touch of masking fluid to isolate the little white flowers throughout the foliage, I then laid in some darks and worked up the lion’s mane and features. Feeling happy with how that looked I progressed onto the roses, with watercolours it is all about building everything up. After some time had passed I removed the masking fluid from the flowers and painted everything in, really enjoying every step in creating this family tattoo design, painting in or wiping off to achieve the result wanted.
The portrait section was the most challenging and took a few tries to get the right look. It can always be quite nerve racking when doing portraits as you not only have to get the features right but also capture a sense of character.
Creating A Family Tattoo Design
With the piece now complete, I was very happy with the outcome, the process was a huge amount of fun, experimenting with familiar mediums and ones rarely used solely on their own. Though with the speed and versatility of them, sure to be used again.
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