It had been a while since I made artwork that wasn't intended for a clients tattoo. So at some point I started a triptych that was meant to go on the wall of my workstation at the tattoo parlour. My favourite creatures to draw from Asian tattooing are Dragons, Onis and FuDogs so I made those three in a darker and more aggressive style which was something I wanted to explore.

Most of the times I start my designs in a smaller scale pencil sketch, because I find it hard to focus on the big picture instead so starting it smaller helps me a lot! Then if I'm happy with the main idea of what I've sketched out I scan it and print it in the size I want to paint it. For those three I cut my favourite 300gr/m2 Bristol in three 50x22cm pieces.

After tracing, I line the artwork with a water based ink brush pen. I don’t focus at perfection at that point because I do a second pass of most of the thicker outlines after colouring is done.

Usually I find it easier to start blending shades from the darkest to the lightest. There’s exceptions to that, like when I want to create a certain texture.

Some times I’m sure of what is the colouring I’m looking for but most of the times that’s not the case. I have a vague idea like in the dragon for example that the background will be really dark and most of the highlight will be on the lower part of the face and the part of the body in the lower part of the artwork. But instead of working on the entire artwork layer by layer of colour, I might find myself finishing it section by section.

So instead of applying all the black, then all the browns, then all the yellows and so on, on the entire artwork, I will do this layering on a smaller section like the upper part of the head for example. Then copy the process for another section. I find it easier to get the blending I want when I focus on a smaller part, instead of always looking at the big picture.

An advantage I’ve found in this process is that if I find that I like how the colour shading looks in one part better than another, I can adjust the colouring to match the one I like (since markers are pretty versatile and fun to work with).

Ever since the original draft I had imagined those three with a hard side lighting. However this would give them a much more realistic look than what I was looking for, so I maintained the thick outlining and the flat traditional flame elements to balance it out.

My lovely mom sewed the black fabric (nope..I can’t use a sewing machine for the life of me!) and then I installed the artwork on it with velcro.

There’s a very old little shop in Athens where I get all my cords and tassels and can even get them custom made which is great if I want them to match the artwork. In this case however because of the intensity of the colours I decided everything else should be black.

And that’s pretty much it!

It took me a while to finish colouring them as I got caught up with tattooing but finally I can hang them over my booth.

I think they would make cool prints so that’s the next step!

Watch the video below if you want to see some of the things mentioned above!