by Deborah Mahan
TATTOOS HAVE ALWAYS INTRIGUED ME. THE FIRST ONE I EVER SAW— a real “Sailor Jerry” hula girl tattooed in Hawaii—was on my uncle’s arm. So, with the major interest in tat’s today, I designed my own version of Sailor Jerry-style pin-up stencils for Artool. The set includes a sailor girl, hula girl, mermaid, and lady luck. For this step-by-step, I used the mermaid stencil and House of Kolor custom urethanes. Remember that just because this is an automotive column, it doesn’t mean you have to stick to painting cars and bikes. These stencils can be used for everything from body art, to wall murals, to cake decorating. Made with a solvent-proof polymer, you don’t have to worry about what you paint them with because you aren’t gonna hurt these suckers.
1. My reference was the photo of a friend’s arm. On a scuffed metal panel I drew registration marks in chalk and airbrushed the flesh base: a mix of basecoat white, Rootbeer kandy koncentrate, and a bit of Pagan Gold kandy koncentrate. In this step, I also blocked in all my contours and completely covered the fleshy area.
2. With a mix of the Rootbeer kandy koncentrate and a small amount of basecoat black, I shaded all the darker areas, and then gave it an overall layer to tone the flesh base color.
3. Using the Rootbeer, black, and a small amount of Oriental Blue kandy concentrate, I worked the really dark areas here: under the elbow, in the crook of the arm, both sides of the arm pit, and around the neck.
4. For the tattoo, I masked off the bottom of the tail and the extras on the stencil to protect against overspray. Using the mixture from Step 3, I sprayed the detail lines very lightly. At this point, I focused on the top half of the mermaid, except for her breasts. Notice that I hinge-taped the stencil to the board so I could flip it up and down and maintain perfect registration.
5. I used the anchor and ring of stars from the Sailor Girlie. I lined up the anchor in her hand by seeing through the stencil, and covered areas with tape that I didn’t want airbrushed.
6. After rendering her sea shell top, I flipped the stencil back down and airbrushed her cleavage and the rest of the tail.
7. All the lines were laid in lightly. All the elements are in place.
8. Using the same Rootbeer mix, I connected all the lines and darkened the details.
9. Repeating the same color, I shaded in the contours of the hair and body.
10. I used Pagan Gold kandy koncentrate on the stars, starfish, sea shell top, tail, and anchor rope. Then, with Organic green kandy concentrate, I shaded her eyes, and the scales of the tail.
11. For balance, I decided to wrap the tail around the arm.
12. When I added the tail, I also worked in some more beads to the top, and drop shadows to the tatted image. Then, I used Apple Red kandy koncentrate on her lips, skin, fins, sea shells, and scales of her tail.
13. I painted the anchor with Oriental Blue kandy koncentrate, and then highlighted the top of the shoulder, the mermaid, anchor, and stars with basecoat white.
The finished product is ready for clearcoat.