ReelSkin work to date

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I've been bad and not posted any of my practice work. Probably because I've already torn it apart and found all my problems so it feels like I'm showing off failures :)

My mentor has had me working at home to get acquainted with my machines while she teaches me all of the shop work, teardown/setup during her sessions. She had me bring down all my equipment last night so she can start watching my practice and decide if I'm ready to move on to friends/family. So here's a random collection of what I've been doing in order from the beginning of November until now.

Everything is using a Workhorse Pilot Liner (post Soba), Forward Tattoo shader, 5RL and 9RS, with an occasional Traditional 5RL as either a tight shader or fat liner, Kuro Sumi black, and mostly Eternal colors.

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I found the colors getting too dark on me here. Then I realized finally that I was pulling black out of my outline and making mud.

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This one I pulled out that traditional 5RL and wasn't as successful as I had hoped. But my mentor loved it and said I was already better then her last apprentice is currently, who's now 8 years into his career. So I guess that's something. The black mixing with my color was super rough on this one. So I missed some good value in the top flame.

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MalligaMallan

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If you posted them in same order you did them it looks like you're progressing ? Lining gets better and better.
Your yellow/orange transitions looks smooth.
And I agree with your mentor about the card skull motif, the lines has a look of certainty (if that's how you say it).

Did you ever try wrapping the practice skin around a bottle? That's good practice. I think you shall fill the bottle with 3/4 water first.
 
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If you posted them in same order you did them it looks like you're progressing ? Lining gets better and better.
Your yellow/orange transitions looks smooth.
And I agree with your mentor about the card skull motif, the lines has a look of certainty (if that's how you say it).

Did you ever try wrapping the practice skin around a bottle? That's good practice. I think you shall fill the bottle with 3/4 water first.
Yep, same order. The card and the hummingbird were what she really loved, especially since we had just looked at some of her previous apprentice's current work so she could show me some of the stuff he was never able to pick up on. One of the big ones being that he still hasn't learned how to do a smooth shading or color transition. No offense against him (for the most part), just something he was never able to pick up on.

I had a bottle sitting here to do that but never got around to it, but did get several curved transitions when the ReelSkin would slide around the edge of the arm wrest and I'd just keep going pretending I was wrapping around a body part. I still plan on some bottle practice though.
 

MalligaMallan

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Yep, same order. The card and the hummingbird were what she really loved, especially since we had just looked at some of her previous apprentice's current work so she could show me some of the stuff he was never able to pick up on. One of the big ones being that he still hasn't learned how to do a smooth shading or color transition. No offense against him (for the most part), just something he was never able to pick up on.

I had a bottle sitting here to do that but never got around to it, but did get several curved transitions when the ReelSkin would slide around the edge of the arm wrest and I'd just keep going pretending I was wrapping around a body part. I still plan on some bottle practice though.
The Reelskin guided you ???
 

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These look really good. It’s awesome your doing so well with a 5rl because I was ripping my reel skins apart when I used a5rl lol. I had to buy 9s and 11s to get better lines. You can definitely see the progression.

I haven’t posted any of my stuff either cause I know my flaws and my work is so basic, but I might post anyway just to contribute! I’m definitely going to try doing Celtic knots as well.
 
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I haven’t posted any of my stuff either cause I know my flaws and my work is so basic, but I might post anyway just to contribute! I’m definitely going to try doing Celtic knots as well.
If nothing else it can show future people your progression :)
Celtic knots are great. A messed up line is super obvious. But, don't be like me pulling them from a loosely drawn book. It's a pain trying to hurry up and correct the original so you can get to as much practice as possible. Most times I don't bother.
 

gadsden1776

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that is a lot of work to look at. in the future could you try to post a little more regular (it will allow us to give a more specific critique)?

beyond what has been said & the fact you are an apprentice (go with what she says until your on your own) - The script "A" in the first post... work on sculpting lines to get a better thick-thin transition.

the symmetrical designs.... super important to have a good stencil & be able to follow it like a xerox machine.

all in all - better than my apprentice level work & i look forward to seeing what you do to your first victi.... clients. clients.
 

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thanks man :) showing off your failures can help someone here as well, it's good to learn from your own mistakes but better on the others :D not going to comment all of them as you said you know your failures, but the card with skull (last one) stands out to me, nice thick lines, looks quite clean after all :) nice job! I like reelsking for its ability to show "blow outs" if you putting line at wrong angle
 

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There's something in the motion of your colors that are distorting your black lines, in my eyes.

Maybe you should work on this, i dunno if you're following the same motions when doing your color gradients, but somehow it seems to me that they're not following the same groove.

Big level up on a lot of your techniques, you seem to learn a lot each time!

I guess your choice of going on different styles and designs is really a very good one, and it shows that experience is really fixing a lot, very very nice to see you on such a good progression !

Thanks for sharing,

Peace,

DKJ
 
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There's something in the motion of your colors that are distorting your black lines, in my eyes.

Maybe you should work on this, i dunno if you're following the same motions when doing your color gradients, but somehow it seems to me that they're not following the same groove.

Big level up on a lot of your techniques, you seem to learn a lot each time!

I guess your choice of going on different styles and designs is really a very good one, and it shows that experience is really fixing a lot, very very nice to see you on such a good progression !

Thanks for sharing,

Peace,

DKJ
Thanks. I'm not sure I understand what you mean about the color. I will say that on this particular set of skin I've been having a harder time with the color pulling black out of the lines and mixing it in. So there is some difference there as I try different methods to prevent that.

Most of these are just little pieces I'm pulling out of a flash book so I can focus more on technique and less on coming up with a design to practice. Some of the others are out of old classic design books. The shop I'll be working in has people coming in for all sorts of different styles so I'll need to be comfortable in a lot of stuff. Since the vast majority of my art history is in charcoal/BG I have a lot of catching up to do on color theory and techniques.
 

DKJ

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Thanks. I'm not sure I understand what you mean about the color. I will say that on this particular set of skin I've been having a harder time with the color pulling black out of the lines and mixing it in. So there is some difference there as I try different methods to prevent that.

Most of these are just little pieces I'm pulling out of a flash book so I can focus more on technique and less on coming up with a design to practice. Some of the others are out of old classic design books. The shop I'll be working in has people coming in for all sorts of different styles so I'll need to be comfortable in a lot of stuff. Since the vast majority of my art history is in charcoal/BG I have a lot of catching up to do on color theory and techniques.
I meant that sometimes, for eg. in your heart with a ribbon and an arrow, that your lines seem to go on a x-y axis when your color is flowing on a y-z axis (a different one).
I dunno... Maybe that's just me, don't trip over it :)

Peace,

DKJ
 

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Everything looks good and like you’re progressing! Just curious for you and all of the other Reelskin users, do you guys feel like it’s really difficult to get smooth shading gradients on Reelskin (or any other practice skins for that matter??) I always feel like it’s super hard to just get things smoothed out nice on Reelskin.
 

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Everything looks good and like you’re progressing! Just curious for you and all of the other Reelskin users, do you guys feel like it’s really difficult to get smooth shading gradients on Reelskin (or any other practice skins for that matter??) I always feel like it’s super hard to just get things smoothed out nice on Reelskin.

I have no problems getting a smooth shading on Reelskin, or any fake skin, but on particularly Reelskin it can be a difference depending on which side you use. It's easier to get a good shading on the glossy/smooth side. (However - it's a while since I used it, and was a reseller for it. I recall they changed it so both sides should be the same. I don't know if both were glossy or both were matte after that ☺️ And I'm not sure they kept it that way or changed it back ?)
 
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Everything looks good and like you’re progressing! Just curious for you and all of the other Reelskin users, do you guys feel like it’s really difficult to get smooth shading gradients on Reelskin (or any other practice skins for that matter??) I always feel like it’s super hard to just get things smoothed out nice on Reelskin.
It takes a LOT of work and is the main thing I'm supposed to be working on so that we can be sure about whether it's a Reelskin issue or a technique issue. Personally I think it's probably 50/50, but I'd like say it more the Reelskin and less me :)

So far my best results have been slow and multiple passes, light pressure to build up the values, and then a final pass with a rinse cup wash to smooth things down. I'm really just trying to get it without a wash though. I also do better with circles and a scumbling approach, but the value can get away from me pretty quick and I really need to get good at my whip shading.
 
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Here's the latest round. It's been a busy week at the shop so I haven't gotten to spend as much time practicing as I'd like. This particular skin has given me a ton of issues too. This batch is really thin and the wrinkles are hard to work with. The biggest issue though is that the skin pulls apart at the outline if you stretch too much, which the wrinkles require. Oh well, I finished the sheet up (There's a panther to post too). The devil had bad color because I forgot to keep it slathered in vaseline so the black made things muddy. I went back and touched up the red and orange later but didn't have time for the green.

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The panther is officially decapitated here.... I'm really not happy with the snake. It just looks too flat. Fighting his decapitation at the cheek really didn't help matters. That said, I am doing my best to stick to the flash on these and not "fix" anything, and the snake wasn't really all that shaded on the original either.

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DKJ

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The panther is officially decapitated here.... I'm really not happy with the snake. It just looks too flat. Fighting his decapitation at the cheek really didn't help matters. That said, I am doing my best to stick to the flash on these and not "fix" anything, and the snake wasn't really all that shaded on the original either.

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They look very good, on point with the traditionnal style.
I guess your snake looks flat for 2 reasons, first is that its head "should" be smaller than its body. Big heads often means cute and it doesn't match with its angry face. But if the flash say so, align with it.

Also, the orange/black pattern over his body is doing a straight line (the part just after its head with the part under the panther's head). I personnaly think it runs well, but with all other lines being curves it may be what's holding you back.

I see that your lines are often shaky or look like multiple pass lines, is it something your strive with, or do you try to get a raw traditionnal effect so to avoid any "cleaner than clean" look?
(I do prefer the raw in your particular style)

Nice results, really, we can see how much work you did put in!
I really like your color choices, amazing!

Peace,

DKJ
 
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I see that your lines are often shaky or look like multiple pass lines, is it something your strive with, or do you try to get a raw traditionnal effect so to avoid any "cleaner than clean" look?
A lot of that is me trying to get a clean sculpted line. Some of the problem is the weird wrinkles, a lot of it is technique that's just not there yet. But there are some weird lines that are in the flash that I normally wouldn't draw but I'm trying my best to keep them all there without correcting it. I definitely have a bad habit of making things too clean to the point it's distracting. I've been working on fixing that for a few years now but always let my OCD get the best of me.
 

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Everything looks good. You should work on how you whip your black out a little more though. You’re black, before you’re adding the color, looks more muddy because you’re probably trying to scrub out your blacks with washes. You’ll get much cleaner blends into your color if you practice whipping techniques on traditional pieces and use those. Once you figure out the technique of traditional style whip shading, it really opens up a world of smooth blends.
 
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Everything looks good. You should work on how you whip your black out a little more though. You’re black, before you’re adding the color, looks more muddy because you’re probably trying to scrub out your blacks with washes. You’ll get much cleaner blends into your color if you practice whipping techniques on traditional pieces and use those. Once you figure out the technique of traditional style whip shading, it really opens up a world of smooth blends.
Nailed it :)
That's the main thing I've been working on cleaning up this week. I keep on going too fast on my whip when the medium requires a slower approach than flesh. So then I end up trying to smooth it out with a light wash and failing at it. I actually did some practice work on an orange last night to see for sure if it was mostly an issue with the speed on fake skin. The results were better at the expected speed, but I could tell those problems have kept me from getting other aspects down.
 
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Here's the sheet I've been doing over the last week really focusing on shading. As always, they're in chronological order. The hand was when I was trying out different things to see what the results were with different changes. I left the row of skulls on bottom because I had to go and working the edge is too much of a pain.
 

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Just to justify another post, here's the full sheet.



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One I started last night but probably won't get to work on again for a couple days.
 

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Finished up that one. I had some issues with the black fill that I think were mostly related to being close to the edge of the skin. Things were smoother on the second one I did yesterday. I'm not happy with the center portion of the cage. I haven't played with washes on this reelskin. Leaving it flesh toned looked off and whipping looked scratchy over that large of an area. So I made a late night judgement call and failed. And yes, the off balance lines in that design were driving me nuts. I'm about ready to start fixing the flash before I stencil it but I'm trying so hard to leave it as designed.
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I got some rough spots in the fill on the eagle. I think they actually got more visible with continued wiping. But, they're there. There are also a few lines there where I missed the stencil. I'm not sure if it was a lighting issue or hand placement. Some of the shading got away from me on the rose leaves so we'll see how that comes through once color is added.

As always, these are coils, 5RL and 9RS, Kuro Sumi black and Eternal color.
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Color blends and saturation are great. Your shading is really smooth as well. I don’t really have any thing to critique. 😂 only thing I can say I’d just keep working on your line work to get it more crisp and smooth. Even though it looks really good, I think thats the thing where most tattooers can get better at.
 
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Even though it looks really good, I think thats the thing where most tattooers can get better at.
Definitely. Even folks who have been at it for decades admit that they can always use some focused lining practice. One problem with my lining in this specific spot is that it's at the edge of the sheet. It always wants to lift and flop and if you stretch too much you start pulling the line apart (on this particular batch). It definitely has an effect on things. But I know I also have room to crisp it up too.
 

MalligaMallan

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I always keep my sheets as big as possible for this reason. Never cut them to smaller pieces. Never would buy smaller than A3.
 
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I always keep my sheets as big as possible for this reason. Never cut them to smaller pieces. Never would buy smaller than A3.
I just fill them up. The stuff in the middle is great and then you get to the edge and wonder if it's really worth it to be so frugal 😂
 

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If you'd cut them up one little sheet for each motif (which is how people think when buying A5 sheets to save a little money) you would tattoo near the edges EVERY TIME 😱
 

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