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Building Grey Levels


balooka

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Hi, I could use some help or information about building grey levels. I think my understanding about this is wrong. I am a graphic designer and use photoshop on a daily basis on a professional level and I’m used to blend colors using different values on top of each other. I figured that by using a very light greywash I could build levels of grey to a certain value before switching to a darker wash. I’m not sure my approach to this is correct. My practical problem is that my lightest wash is too dark for my liking. I’m using sumi light grey wash and I dilute that a lot with water. It’s still too dark on my first pass using a mag. I’ve tried a few different washes, speed and mags (not rounded). Oh I am using fake skin, my butcher forgot to save pig skin for me this week.

Any hints to what I am doing wrong? I’m using a rotary and the speed is 80-90 using a cheyenne power unit. Was looking at an instruction vid and that guy used a hawk pen with a curved mag running 120-130... that 10-11 volts he says. I use that for lining so I’m really confused now.

Thanks
 

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In my experience with practice skins, any shade you get with washes or mixes on the rubber would be much lighter on real living skin, i found same with pigskin mostly. Just my findings, not necessarily gospel ;)
 

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Hmm weird... to me it looks like it's going from say 5% to 50% in 2 passes. It's either very light or dark and not a whole lot in between. Could it be that with fake skin, the needles find the same punctures again instead of making new ones?

Thanks!
 

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Hmm weird... to me it looks like it's going from say 5% to 50% in 2 passes. It's either very light or dark and not a whole lot in between. Could it be that with fake skin, the needles find the same punctures again instead of making new ones?

Thanks!
Also you have blood/plasma from the skin which will dilute your ink further resulting in weaker/lighter washes hence the reason why you have multiple ink caps and you wash the tip frequently, just my findings
 

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I'm working on this on reelskin right now, and I've shaded her whole body (except for the hand to the far right). I use solid black for all shading. The arm closest in pic is shaded also in the lightest parts, even where it looks like I left it untouched.
The numbers you mention I can't comment, they are different for different machines. I have a fkirons Halo2 and run my 7mag at 6v when shading, but that probably don't help you much to know.
My technique is to run machine slow, a little faster now that I am more experienced. Going faster is a vast difference in getting an even result, it's much more difficult. There are no rules saying you can't go as slow slowa possible - turn your volts down as low as you can, and start there. Turn your volts up (if you want to) when you get a hang of shading.
Be veeeeery light on hand. Veeeeeeery light.

I've tried washes so many times on fake skin (different fake skins) and I never liked it. Maybe it works better on human skin. And now that I know top tattoo artists use solid black when shading I don't see any reason to not do the same.
 

balooka

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View attachment 16326
I'm working on this on reelskin right now, and I've shaded her whole body (except for the hand to the far right). I use solid black for all shading. The arm closest in pic is shaded also in the lightest parts, even where it looks like I left it untouched.
The numbers you mention I can't comment, they are different for different machines. I have a fkirons Halo2 and run my 7mag at 6v when shading, but that probably don't help you much to know.
My technique is to run machine slow, a little faster now that I am more experienced. Going faster is a vast difference in getting an even result, it's much more difficult. There are no rules saying you can't go as slow slowa possible - turn your volts down as low as you can, and start there. Turn your volts up (if you want to) when you get a hang of shading.
Be veeeeery light on hand. Veeeeeeery light.

I've tried washes so many times on fake skin (different fake skins) and I never liked it. Maybe it works better on human skin. And now that I know top tattoo artists use solid black when shading I don't see any reason to not do the same.

Awesome thanks! Took me a while to unboggle my mind after looking at your image, wasn't sure what I was looking at there :D

When you say I should go veeeeeeeery light... will that not result in a shade that would disappear on real skin after healing? I can get some shading done using only black and whipping over it very lightly but thought that might result in no shade after healing (on a human that is).

I have made a conversion table for the Thunder to figure out the actual CPS on it and 6 volts on the Thunder is ~80 CPS. That's what I'm using on a seven and nine mag also. Maybe I should get rid of the rubber skin and get me some reel skin, eh?

Thanks again!
 

balooka

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Also you have blood/plasma from the skin which will dilute your ink further resulting in weaker/lighter washes hence the reason why you have multiple ink caps and you wash the tip frequently, just my findings
Thank you! I'm using fake skin but I understand what you mean. Is that also the reason why shades become lighter after healing? As in, as it mixes with plasma during healing, it'll get lighter? After looking around som artists use about 3% as a lightest wash, will that stil be visible after healing?

Thanks!
 

MalligaMallan

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Awesome thanks! Took me a while to unboggle my mind after looking at your image, wasn't sure what I was looking at there :D

When you say I should go veeeeeeeery light... will that not result in a shade that would disappear on real skin after healing? I can get some shading done using only black and whipping over it very lightly but thought that might result in no shade after healing (on a human that is).

I have made a conversion table for the Thunder to figure out the actual CPS on it and 6 volts on the Thunder is ~80 CPS. That's what I'm using on a seven and nine mag also. Maybe I should get rid of the rubber skin and get me some reel skin, eh?

Thanks again!
:p A true acrobat ;)
Going very light only means the needles doesn't puncture as many times as they would else. I can't guide you in the process on human skin though as I've only done one tattoo with shading on human skin - on myself. I'll show you a pic later when I can (on the bus now :)). It's about 8 months old. BUT - you can have a look at https://www.instagram.com/ellenwestholm/ she does ALL her tattoos shaded in solid black and of course have to be veeeery light on her hand to get the lightest shades. And I don't think it fades dramatically - or she would alter her technique, I figure. AND - why should a very light shade made of solid black fade easier or more than a very light shade made of washes?
 

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My rose. Don't think it faded much. Of course it haven't been that long, but still.

It was not completely healed on August pic. (And looks bruised, not very light hand it looks :LOL:)

I first tattooed on it in April, that's why I said it's 8 months old.
 
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balooka

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Thanks!

That indeed didn't fade at all it seems. I'll have to get some reel skin then to test on, I thinker's the rubber crap I'm working on that is limiting me in finding a decent approach. It's working against me and not with me.
 

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Thanks!

That indeed didn't fade at all it seems. I'll have to get some reel skin then to test on, I thinker's the rubber crap I'm working on that is limiting me in finding a decent approach. It's working against me and not with me.
Yep, agree :)
 

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Very nice, tattoo looks good too :p

seriously though, looks like it healed very well, nice shades and contrasts. (y)
 

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It's me... again.

I have found a setting on mug machine that works for me for shading (which is s l o w). I also use dilute the Kuro Sumi Soft Grey even more to start of with a light value. Anyway, what I'm struggling with is how you fill larger areas with the same value. When I circle I get the ugly begin and endpoints and when I whip I run out of ink and get a new starting point. For instance, I did a skull which turned out OK but when I started to work on the 'forehead' to get an even tint over it, it got messy. How do you 'fill' a larger area with just one value?

Thanks again!
 

MalligaMallan

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S L O W is good. Getting an even shade over large areas is tricky. At least I haven't found a shortcut to it. I shade extremely careful a little part at a time, and am very very gentle on my hand. Usually it still gets uneven - I don't think you can get it perfect at once - but then I fill the lighter spots where needed. And I build it up, like layers. I can get a perfect even result this way, even a very very light shade, so it's far from impossible. I can't see no reason why it shouldn't be possible to shade this way on human skin too.

I hope my description is comprehensible. Maybe someone else have a different technique, and can describe it better.
 

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Here's an example, her body. Made on size A4 reelskin.
 

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Once again, I need need to unboggle my mind... You are a very interesting person :)

When you shade ins actions, don't you get little lines or markings where your sections meet? I can do a patch in the same tint, and the one next to it is also the same tint but connecting them without getting a straight line is difficult. I'm going to try that again just because it seems the only way (for now) to address this issue.

Thanks!
 

MalligaMallan

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Haha thanks :)

I avoid going back and forth with the needles (I always use mags, 7mags) because when you do you get that darker border and that's almost impossible to cover. If I do go back and forth I do it in this motion:
 
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MalligaMallan

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Pushed wrong button o_O

This motion:
20171211_164017.png

It's hard to explain, but there is a difference.

But usually I move the machine like this:

20171211_164613.png
And usually pull. Pushing is not sensitive enough so to say.

And most of all - not only one technique or move is best, best is to combine different moves with the machine.

The way you do it is really hard to get an even surface. Try to find new ways.
 
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I watched a tutorial with Tommy Montoya ages age where he says to sweep your needles across the skin, similar to how you would use a paint brush to paint a large area...this will give you your base from where you can add more depth and contrast where needed...I'll see if i can find the video
 

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I would say that's about what I was trying to explain. Except i wouldn't do it both directions, at least not in the beginning when still practicing/getting used to it.

Would be great to see that video! (Wonder if it's the video I've been looking for a long time).
 

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I always like to start with a light wash in most cases to open the skin then go into building my values. I use the sweeping motion along with, whipping, and alter my speed and stretch as well
 

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Great! Will watch. Don't think it's the one I've been looking for.
 

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I've watched that one like 10 times and tried it twice :) At the end of that video, he's doing a vertical shade, he's not really stretching the skin at all. Is that because the area is stretched enough or is that 'part of the trick' to get smooth grey values?
I saw another video where someone was explaining that he builds shades by stretching (dark) and releasing (light) when 'brushing' in his shades.
 

MalligaMallan

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Yeah, you can skip the stretching completely when you want really light shades.
 

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Once the skin pours are open Your find blending dark to light easier visa versa,trick is learning how it work,go and get a b&g tattoo done watch an learn your be surprised how little they set up ink wise.1 black full black and 1 10drops black an water mix.works all the time
 

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Ok, got a follow up question on this and I rather not fill this forum with my noob stuff so here it is...

I was watching a brazillian artist called alexandro dallier and he uses a set of grey inks to domportraits and such. It’s not really like realism as you’d get with washes, but that look he gets with that ink iI think is awesome. He uses his own set of viper ink, which I cannot find anywhere near me. Is there an alternative to these grey pigments? I’m not sure nocturnal is grey pigment and not a pre diluted black. Silverback are washes, correct? I think he uses 4 greys, a black and a white in his set.


Thanks again

Edit. Got that wrong, both are washes. Intenze has a gangster grey set, anyone familiar with that?
 

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Some progress but still spotty... Used a 7RS for the most part en a 7M for the somewhat larger area's.

The fake skin, aka rubber shite, goes from 0 to 100 in a few strokes so I hope this will be 'smoother' once I try reelskin or real skin. I need to order some new carts and could use some advise on that. For the curved mags, should I get the 7, 9 or 11 (bug pin .30)? I have regular 7 and 9 now (12's). I also have long tapered 3RL and 5RL in my basket, with regular 12's. Should I change something or add/remove an item? I really really want to figure out the best way to make smooth blends...

Thanks a bundle! The image is about 10x10cm (4"x4")

 

MalligaMallan

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I would say long taper is good for smooth shading.
Short taper is usually recommended for colour packing.
Remember it's all RECOMMENDATIONS, if you end up using a pigs tail because it works for you then everything's just fine. But long taper is not a bad choice :)

Some say bugpins are the best for shading, others say it doesn't heal so well. (And that skin easier get overworked I think?). Also it depends on how you want your shading to look. I want a peppery yet smooth shading and therefore don't choose bugpins as needles are closer together (and usually are #10 instead of #12, I think). I would like to try needles even further apart than the existing needles. I may try to heat the soldering on a mag some day to see how shading would look with that.

I would never use any kind of RL for shading.

Shading works better on reelskin than on other fake skin. But you have to be a little light on hand of course. My experience is that Reelskin and human skin are quite close. Unfortunately I haven't had the opportunity to shade very much on human skin yet though.

And I think your problem with the shading greeting too dark too easily depends a lot on your technique. You need to practice more on being very light on your hand :) And run the machine very very slow!!!
 
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balooka

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Thanks again

I meant to say that I had the RL’s with long taper in the basket for lining, not shading. I use regulars #12 now.

I used kuro lining ink for black and kuro soft grey for shades. I only used like 4 drops of grey ink in a cap and diluted it even further. I have the impression that somehow, when I use the mags they don’t take enough ink in. With the shaders I get a little pool on my skin, with the mags not so much or not at all. Come to think of it now, would it be too thin to stay in a mag? That’t the main reason I use RS more because it mire ink so I can make longer passes.

Should I get 7, 9 or 11 mags for stuff like the image?

Thanks
 

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Very strange you get no ink in the mags?? For me it's always been the complete opposite, I can work much longer passes with mags before dipping. I don't think it's due to thinness of ink, I've been shading with washes mixed of the largest ink cup full of water and like one drop of ink in it. Works perfect. What brand have you tried so far?

And for me the mags gets the ink where it should be - in the skin. Hate working with any rs's.

And you're sure the needles are down on the bottom in the tube?

Do you do enough? Maybe you have to dip a little longer as the tube for a mag would hold more ink than any rs tube I imagine.

Did you try dip it while running the machine? Just to be sure the ink had the possibility to fill the tube so to say :)
 

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Hi
I use kuro sumi lining and soft grey, eternal triple black and makkuro sumi. The dynamic is on it's way.

I dip with a running machine and ze diluted ink like you do but with 3 drops of soft grey.

I will figure this out tomorrow! Driving me nuts ☠

Thx
 

MalligaMallan

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Understand it's driving you nuts!!

I also was wondering what mags and needles you were using.
 

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I use medium taper needles #12, 7 and 9 mags, original cheyenne if that makes any difference, which I doubt. I have ordered the long tapers now and bugpin mags 7 and 9, both rounded.
 

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In tattooing everything seems to matter o_O But #12 7 rounded mag medium taper of good quality (not Cheyenne but others) is what I use, so they shouldn't be a problem.

Looking forward too hear if you'll notice any difference with the other needles.
 

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I think I have figured it out... finally :)

I had the grip at an offset so it would balance the weight a bit more to my liking, but when I dip the cart is at an 45 angle, rotated. The front of the cart goes in like this / and not like this — .

Holding it more level solved it all. And the reason why the mags are acting crapp is the skin. Every video of shading I was has an artist circling or swiping over the same spot without hiccups. The rubber skin kust bounces and works against the force of the needle, like hammering in ink instead of gently putting it in there. That's probably why I like(d) the round shaders more, the don\t have an angle of attack on rubber like the mags do, they kinda snag into it.

Anyway... I think that I should invest in some reelskin soon :)

 

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Aha great you solved it! Dipping is of course a bit more important to do "the right way" as the mags are wider than the rs's.

I'm not sure I understand you correctly, are you saying the mags are hammering in the ink??? In that case you definitely can work with your technique. I can be as smooth as a feather with the mags, works perfect on reelskin. Was a long time since I used other fake skins but I can't recall I had to hammer it in on them either.

You do know you don't have to push? When pushing it's harder to get a smooth, even shade. I don't push much, only where I know I'm having dark shading. I usually pull, or move sideways. Anything that gives me a soft, smooth shade.

And you don't have to dig the needles down to the other side :p
 

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Is it on purpose you seem to have moved the needles in the same direction throughout the shading on the Lennon portrait?
 

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Is it on purpose you seem to have moved the needles in the same direction throughout the shading on the Lennon portrait?
Uhm no. The large area’s are done with a 9m, rotating pure black in, but there you addreess what I encounter all the time. Somehow packing a solid black in the rubber results in this: as if it’s saturated with punctures but not with ink and not accepting ink anymore.

I try to follow the direction of the shade at the same angle as the shade or at 90 deg. Most of this done with an RS. The mag is not at all responding to the rubber as I see others do on youtube. If I pull I get lines, if I pull and circle I get a nasty looking shade of crap. Impossible to get a decent flow. Quick question, do you ride the tube when shading or neeldes out. I have them out.

My butcher has no time for skin due to holidays but I think the pig skin will be better than the rubber, it has some bounce to it. Frustrating :mad:
 

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John Lennon right? So cant be doing that badly if you can see who it is, keep at it. reel skin will smooth your technique, its unforgiving so you will get it right or rip it up fast.
 

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John Lennon right? So cant be doing that badly if you can see who it is, keep at it. reel skin will smooth your technique, its unforgiving so you will get it right or rip it up fast.
Thanks but I'm not sure how to read that :) Reel skin will smooth out what I did compared to the crap I tattoo on now? Si I'm on the right track with this?

Thanks!
 

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I don't want to be mean, but it's not your work or shading that makes it obvious that it's Lennon, it's the stencil :unsure:

And I'm not trying to put you down when picking on your shading, I wanna help you!

Anyway, I still don't think you can blame the crappy skin for the outcome. It does get a bit more like small dots and not an smooth one coloured grey surface. But you can still make it look even. On Lennon it looks very stripey.

This is the very first portrait I tattooed, and it was on same crap as you're using now
Screenshot_20171231-000510.png
I never finished it and it of course has a lot of flaws, but you can see on the light shades that it's possible to get it even. I used an 11 and a 15 mag. And I ride the needle, always have. And I vary angle of hand a lot depending on what I need to do at the moment, but usually I hold it pretty much straight up.

But we all have our ways, mine may not work for you. And maybe mags are not for you. On the other hand Lennon was done with rs. I still think you have to be a lot lighter on hand, imagine it's a feather you're holding in your hand. And maybe you're still going too deep too, I think it's harder to work softly when going deep.

Keep it up, you'll work it out eventually! (y)
 
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all that is basically what i said but I was kind with positive enforcement :p

love you really Malin :rolleyes:;)
What's there to love about that?

It's good you're positive, that's important. But if you want to progress you usually need something to work on. My aim is to give @balooka that. I think different answers complement each other. Hopefully all for the best.
 
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balooka

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Hi
I’m not offended in any way If someone comments in what I did. That’s why I post it.

Just out of curiosity, how thick is your fake rubber skin? Mine is like 2mm, if that, and has zero bounce or give. Seems that the thicker kind, mousepad thick kinda, has bounce and some give. Oh, and not looking fot excuses or anything, just making sure I’m comparing apples with apples
 

Goldwingdaz

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Its quite right what Malin says Jay, take no notice of me n Malin, im just joking around at her, time of year and all that ;)
 

balooka

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Happy newyear to you all!

Haha no problem Daz, I’m not here for a feather up my arse, I want to learn something and appreciate everyone that takes the time to comment or guide me.

:)
 

MalligaMallan

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I understand you're not looking for excuses :)

You're completely right about the reelskin, it varies from 2-4mm, but the difference is not about thickness. Tattooing on 2mm reelskin is completely different from tattooing on 2mm cheaper skin. You can stretch it, it has bounce - I'm not sure what you mean when you separate bounce from give though? (Can be my English :unsure:). To me bounce and give is the same thing.
 
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