Achieving Glowing Color in Tattoos | 3 Minutes to Better Tattooing

Submitted 05.29.24

Welcome to another episode of "3 Minutes to Better Tattooing." Today, we dive into the art of using color temperature and complementary color palettes to make your tattoos glow with vibrancy. Whether you're a seasoned artist or just starting your tattoo career, these tips will help elevate your designs.

Find A Complementary Palette of Tattoo Inks

"The real trick here is using a very bright color and its complement in a muted version to create a harmonious effect."

– Jake Meeks

To achieve a glowing effect in your tattoos, start with a simple complementary color palette. This means pairing one bright color with its muted complement, allowing the bright color to stand out. For instance, using intense blues and greens for the underside of a mushroom and pairing them with muted oranges and desaturated reds for the cap can create a striking contrast.

A key principle is that if everything is bright, nothing will stand out. Therefore, to create a "glowing" effect, you must provide an environment where the bright color can shine.

Color Shifting From Warm to Cool in the Tattoo

"You could stick with a single blue and dark burnt orange and lighten those with white, but to me, that results in a much less interesting tattoo. I like for the color to shift temperature as it moves from dark to light."

– Jake Meeks

Begin by selecting complementary colors such as blues and oranges, greens and reds, or purples and yellows. Use high-chroma shades for the bright color, transitioning from dark to light while keeping the complement in a range of desaturated tones.

Another effective technique is to adjust the temperature of the colors as they lighten or darken. For example, shifting a warmer dark blue to a cooler light green adds sophistication and visually engages the composition.

Creating Contrast and Keeping Intense "Glow" In The Tattoo Design

"If I had [also] used really intense oranges, reds, and yellows on the top side of the cap, then everything would be super bright, noisy, loud, and as a result nothing would really read as being bright."

– Jake Meeks

Ensuring the bright color stands out against muted colors is crucial for a balanced and appealing design. Avoiding overly intense colors across the palette prevents the design from becoming too noisy, allowing the bright elements to truly pop and glow.

This technique can be applied to various color combinations. Always maintain one bright and one muted complement to achieve the desired glowing effect. If you work digitally, you can easily experiment with multiple color combinations. Try reversing the roles of the colors, using the intense bright color as the main feature and the muted tones as the background.


Learn more about how to achieve a glowing effect in your tattoos:

Tattoo Techniques: Achieving Glowing Color in Tattoos 3 Minutes to Better Tattooing

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