Painting tattoos...

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  02 February 2013
Painting tattoos...

This may be a question better suited for some other forum, but since I'm using Mud I figure I might as well ask here.

Anyone have any suggestions for techniques for painting tattoos on a figure? I'm using two methods - freehand painting and painting with images using a stencil and in both cases they turn out fine, but still just look "painted on".

I suppose the real problem is I just don't understand or am not seeing the way real tattoos interact with real skin, so if anyone has any tips that would be great.

Then again, there are ways of making them look better in an actual render with various layered shaders, but I'd like to be able to start with as realistic a texture as possible.
  02 February 2013
It's hard to give much advice considering you haven't posted any shots of what you've done so far, but two things that are often overlooked with tattoos is that they're often slightly raised along the edges, and the edges shouldn't be too sharp. I have a lot of tattoos, and within a short time after they're done, there is a noticeable softening of the edges, almost like a slight blurring. In texture terms, this would be a blur of perhaps one or two pixels.
  02 February 2013
Thank you very much for the reply and the information Leigh.

I've been aware that it seems my biggest problem is in the edges - either too sharp or too blurred, but it also occurred to me since I posted that there's a specular component as well that also needs to be done right. Or so it seems. I can't tell if the spec is coming from a difference in physical texture caused by the tattoo itself, or there all along but simply emphasized due to the contrast in color.

I've been studying images of tattoos all day, but it's difficult in that I don't have any tattoos of my own to look at and neither do any of my friends. At least nobody I know well enough that I'd feel comfortable asking if I could study their tattoos.

When I get a little further along I'll post a pic or two.
  02 February 2013
Yes there is a specular difference - tattooed skin is a bit like scarred skin, in that it is a little shinier.
  02 February 2013
Thanks again Leigh.

I knew going into this that it was going to be challenging, but I didn't realize just how "painted on" my tattoos were going to look and how much trouble it is to try to get them right.

Perseverance though...

Now I can't tell if I'm over-thinking it and being hypercritical or not. Or just delirious from lack of sleep.
  02 February 2013
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