Depending on where you are in the world, you might not be able to get a tattoo right now – here in the U.S. we've had to put all our in-person tattoo, hair, & nail appointments on hold indefinitely. But as places begin to reopen and ink begins to flow, it's best to have your tattoo ideas & designs in place already.

Unless you're a highly skilled artist or have high-level design tools on your computer already, it might seem intimidating to try to put together a tattoo design yourself. Luckily, you can still put together a great custom tattoo for free & online, without any software or drawing expertise. Here's what you'll need to know:

  1. Get familiar with your artist's work
  2. Work with existing designs
  3. Keep it simple
  4. See how it will look on your body
Here's a look at how you can design a tattoo from scratch and preview it in the Kapwing Studio

1. Get familiar with your artist's work

If you want your tattoo to be as good as possible, you should always either 1) come up with your own design and find an artist whose work looks similar, or 2) find an artist whose work you like, and then come up with a design that you think would work well with their style.

No tattoo artist can accomplish all designs equally well, unless you want something extremely simple. So browse through the best rated tattoo artists in your area and see what kinds of work they do. Once you find someone whose style you especially like, start playing around with designs that you think would work with that particular style – maybe use some of their own for inspiration!

2. Work with existing designs

It's really hard to actually draw your tattoo from scratch to look the way you want. Instead, try combining, editing, and arranging bits of design, icons, and drawings that you can find on the internet.

With Kapwing, you have full freedom to work with any visual material you can find. For example, if you wanted to modify or add to one of your favorite tattoo artist's existing works, you can remove the background and any other objects from the tattoo photo, make a silhouette of the design, and add text, colors, and additional details however you like. Whether you want to start with a digital icon, a painting, or a still frame from your favorite movie, you can create and edit any design you can find in the Studio.

For mine, I searched for simple graphic designs in the "Images" tab, erased their backgrounds by clicking "Erase," recolored them with "Adjust," and arranged them together to complete my tattoo design.

3. Keep it simple

A tattoo design is the perfect place to show off your pure creativity, but you should be careful not to take it too far. Remember: simple is usually better. Too many colors, fine details, and small design elements can leave much more room for artist error, and will cost you far more money.

Plus, the hard truth of skin art is that the canvas changes over time. With aging skin in mind, it's a much better idea to minimize the complexity of your tattoo designs – the simpler your tat, the better it will look as the years pass.

4. See how it will look on your body

This one is extra important: you don't want to have any regrets about your tattoo after it's on your body, so the best move is to preview how it'll look ahead of time. If you're using Kapwing, it's easy to make a transparent PNG image from any picture you're working on. Just click "Erase" while you're working on your tattoo and remove the entire background. Make the project's background transparent, and you've made a transparent PNG!

Now, take a picture of yourself where you'd like the tattoo to be located. When you upload your new picture to the Studio, you can import the tattoo design you made and arrange & resize it on your skin wherever you want it to be located. This can give you a good idea of how the final products will look once it's inked, and give you an opportunity to rework, resize, or reposition your design before it's too late.

Remember to tag us @KapwingApp whenever you share your content on social media– we love to support all our creators! And be sure to subscribe to the Kapwing Resources page – we’re constantly writing new tutorial and features to help you make the most out of Kapwing.


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