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Japanese-style tattoos

The koi fish is one of the most beautiful, popular and recognisable Japanese tattoo symbols. In addition to its natural beauty, it has come to represent advancement and aspiration. Arguably one of the most important aspects of successful tattoo design is the quality of the initial black line work.

At the end of it all, when colour and shading are complete, if the line work of the tattoo is not crisp, uniform and sharp, the results will be less than impressive.

Illustrator's brushes are the ideal tool for such a task; they provide flexibility, control, and lend themselves well to a non-linear workflow. When tracing your initial sketch, a template layer will give you the opportunity to keep your sketch visible in Outline or Preview mode. This way you can toggle between modes as you work, and have a constant visible guide.

In the first part of this three-part series I'll be showing you step-by-step how to create beautiful outline art, but be sure to check out the next instalment so that you can learn how to add colour, work with symbols and master the art of working with clipping masks.

Click here to download the tutorial for free

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