How to Design a Tattoo Flash Sheet - (2022)

Have you ever wondered how to design your own tattoo sheet?

We collaborated with the amazing sandra staub for this tutorial so she can teach us how to do just that.

Reading: Tattoo sheet designs

her style is minimalist, inspired by femininity, nature and many hidden things, and we think this aspect of her work makes it perfect for tattoo design. Today, he will create a tattoo flash sheet using some of his own sketches. Since Sandra is offering his illustrations for a tattoo license, it makes sense for him to prepare them as flash sheets; and create them with vectors, because then your client can scale them to the size he wants his tattoo to be.

but even if you don’t plan on selling your artwork as tattoos, flash sheets have a beautiful aesthetic that makes them perfect for many other unique design projects including posters, cards, book covers, and more.

This step-by-step tutorial will introduce or remind you of the functions, gestures, and methods required to create a vector art tattoo flash sheet. And better yet, Sandra Staub will give us insight into her own creative process. so let’s get started!

Before we get into this tutorial, you can see some inspiring tattoo ideas. it might be helpful to know where tattoos originated and where they are now. Plus, we’ve included cool inspiration from different tattoo styles to get you started.

find your inspiration

Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, finding the right references should be your first step.

tattoo magazines, art books, instagram, cultural symbols and botanical drawings are great sources of inspiration.

sandra loves to be inspired by other artists creating flash sheet inspired artwork. in particular, daphna sebbane, lloyd stratton or densha tattoo are some of her favorites. check them out!

on the other hand, you can also be inspired by photographs, old illustrations or textile patterns.

You only need to follow two rules here: keep an open mind and don’t make direct copies of other people’s art.

draw your ideas

Once you’ve gathered your references, spend some time drawing and let the paper come to life.

or in the case of sandra, let your imagination run wild in procreate.

Whatever idea you have, you can sketch it out or even finalize it as a plot, depending on your process. sandra prefers to finish her illustrations in procreate rather than vectorize them. but again, it’s all up to you.

create your canvas

Now that we’re in vectornator, the first thing to do is set up your canvas.

in this case, sandra chose a5 from the paper document templates, because flash sheets are great for printouts. creating your project at this size makes it easy to print instantly once it’s complete.

then switch to a portrait orientation simply by flipping the document with your fingers.

add a background layer

vectornator automatically starts with one layer.

To make everything easy to find, give this initial layer a name like “background”.

To give it some personality, choose the shape tool and create a rectangle that covers the entire canvas. change its color to #f2cecc (in the style tab) and then lock the background layer, since it won’t touch it anymore.

create new guides

Next, add some basic guidelines on each side of your canvas by dragging your finger across the ruler.

However, a flash sheet is usually quite spontaneous and wild, so to preserve that, don’t go crazy with this step.

See also: Add To Your Style Statement With These 25 Feather Tattoos | Gumtoo Blog

four simple guides along the x and y axes should do the trick! just use these guides to create some margins – leave enough room on each side so your design doesn’t get cropped during the printing process.

add new layers

make sure to layer up! they’re free!

It’s always a good idea to create a new layer for any major additions to your work. sandra adds a new layer for each sketch, for example.

To create a new layer, tap the plus button at the top right of the layer tab and then tap new layer.

import each sketch

After all this preparation, it’s time to transform your sketches into finished vector designs.

switch to the library tab to insert a photo of your sketch. touch the image you want to import or drag & drop it on the canvas.

if you’ve worked in procreate, export your .png and add it to your canvas in exactly the same way.

resize and place

Now, resize your image to fit your layout and place it in the position you want.

then change the opacity of your sketch layer to 20% using the slider at the bottom of the style tab. this way, it’s easier to see what you’re drawing.

define your color palette

you can create your own unique color palette in vectornator with just a few taps.

You just need to think creatively and add your own flair to it. since sandra works a lot with eyeliner, she usually opts for dark colors, but not pure black. chose a dark blue (#191a32) instead.

Before you go crazy with color, consider how the tattoo will look on different skin tones, where on the body it will be placed, or even think about how many touch-ups a person might need in their lifetime. light colors need much more maintenance than darker ones. so sandra’s choice not only matches her style but is also highly practical as it ensures the longevity of her tattoo art on the skin.

draw straight lines

This particular tattoo is the easiest to vectorize.

simply take the pen tool and tap on each intersection to create straight lines between two points. It really doesn’t get any easier than this!

set the stroke width to 0.5pt and tap, tap, tap.

draw curved shapes

if you know sandra’s style, you know it won’t stay this simple for long. time to move on to some more complex illustrations.

On a new layer, start working with the pencil tool to trace the sketch section by section. it’s easier if you vectorize your designs in parts, as it gives you more control over your shapes.

first, set the pencil tool’s softness level based on the area you’re tracing. if you’re working with curves, smooth lines will work better. but if you’re working on smaller details like the contours of a face, you’re better off with a lower smoothing, as your pencil tool will follow your hand movements exactly.

After that, it’s all about following the contours of your sketch. The Pencil Tool is a freehand vector tool that feels almost like a pencil on paper, which is why Sandra loves working with it.

You can also use the brush tool to create flowing curved lines, if you want a more organic, hand-painted look.

adjust where necessary

It’s okay if your lines with the pencil tool extend a bit over the face, as shown below.

You can fix that very easily with the node tool.

See also: 10 Best Number 4 Tattoo Ideas That Will Blow Your Mind!

If you find that you’ve colored outside the lines, so to speak, simply change the shape by removing nodes, changing their position, adjusting the angle of the handles, or creating new ones that you can then manipulate however you like.

tap on a vector path to add nodes, double-tap on nodes to remove them, and move them or handles by tapping and dragging. the video at the top of this article is a great way to learn how this works.

so feel free to be pretty liberal with the pencil tool or brush tool, as you can always adjust your lines afterwards.

you can undo by tapping two fingers on the canvas. Learn more about how to use different gestures to improve and speed up your workflow by reading gestures and shortcuts.

create perfect shapes

When creating basic shapes, use vectornator’s shape tool, which lets you draw perfect circles, lines, rectangles, and more.

To create this type of wave, for example, simply create a perfect circle using the oval tool and keeping one finger on the canvas to preserve the aspect ratio. then take the selection tool and use the duplicate function to create a few more copies that mimic the shape of the waves.

finally touch the top node with the node tool and delete it. thus, we have semicircles.

combine your objects

It’s time to combine all your objects.

While it’s easier to control each shape individually when creating them, it’s better to work with a combined object when you’re refining your artwork.

maybe you need to place it in a different place, or resize it to better fit your overall design.

select all your objects and use the join boolean operation, which you can find in the style tab or quick actions menu.

create complex shapes

Boolean operations are awesome when it comes to creating complex shapes like logos.

There is an art to combining these five simple operations to create the world’s most recognizable designs. learn how to use them well and you’ll see your workflow speed up a lot!

In this part of her illustration, Sandra makes use of the split operation to create a beautiful earring.

started with a semicircle (created the same as before; removing the top node of a full circle) and applied the split boolean operation, which separated the two objects where they overlapped; creating this super interesting shape:

how to sell your tattoo designs

A great way to make your tattoo drawings more attractive is to create mockups of what they would look like on your client’s skin.

Or create temporary tattoos that people can apply before their tattoo session to see if that’s what they really want tattooed for the rest of their lives.

but as sandra mentions, tattoo designs can simply become part of your merch instead of body art. They can be printed on a t-shirt, as a poster, or even turned into fonts if you design lettering for tattoos.

We recommend that you always protect your drawings from theft by adding your personal watermark.

final tip: sandra added some pink shapes to the finished illustration, just to make her artwork stand out on social media. These shapes may not be very visible on the skin, but they do add a splash of color to the image itself. so don’t be afraid to slightly change your design for different media.

that’s all for today! We hope that Sandra has inspired you to start creating your own tattoo designs! be sure to check out our other tutorials and download vectornator to start bringing your ideas to life!

See also: Top 43 Skyrim Tattoo Ideas [2021 Inspiration Guide]


How do you come up with flash tattoo ideas? ›

The best way to get the hang of it fast is to look at references of other artists' work and see how they did it so you can replicate it in your own work. As you practice drawing and tattooing those professional designs, you'll naturally learn how to create designs that have flow.

Can you customize flash tattoos? ›

Personalized is a way to semi-customize your Flash Tattoos, meaning that we offer pre-designed templates that you can personalize with your own text and/or color choices. The fonts and layout however, are pre-set.

What do tattoo artists use to draw flash? ›

Media – Quality drawing pencils, markers and coloring pencils are the standard for most flash artists. Colored markers don't usually allow for blending and shading the way pencils do. Prismacolor makes some of the best colored pencils that are highly favored by flash artists.

What size are tattoo flash sheets? ›

There is no standard size for tattoo flash, but it is most commonly found on 11x14 inch prints in North America. Tattoo flash may come with an outline, also known as a line drawing, printed on a separate sheet, so that tattoo artists do not need to draw the linework themselves.

How do tattoo artists create designs? ›

Dip pens and tracing paper are valuable tools used to create what is called a “tattoo stencil,” and helps ensure a client will get exactly what they want from their ink. After a traced design is applied, the artist can use their skills to follow the lines and fill in the blanks for the perfect tattoo.

Is flash cheaper than custom tattoo? ›

Flash tattoos are easy to draw and can be completed in one sitting. If you can't think of a specific idea but are itching to get some new ink, this might be the way to go. They're also usually less expensive because it takes less time and effort from your tattoo artist.

Do tattoo artists repeat flash designs? ›

In most cases, an artist will not repeat their own pieces. If you find one by an artist you like, make an appointment to talk to them about their process. Special flash events are common at most tattoo parlors.

Is it okay to copy a flash tattoo? ›

This is a huge no-no for reputable and talented tattoo artists. It's 100% fine to find inspiration in other tattoos, and ask your artist to design something like the design you love, or in the same theme or style. But the art you end up with should not be a copy of someone else's tattoo.

What do tattoo artists use to paint flash sheets? ›

Sharpies are my go to for lining. I find that nibs are great, brush lining is ok, but sharpies help knock out sheets quicker and are pretty lightfast. I use all sorts of inks, from ph martens, to FW, to whatever off brand liquid acrylics I find at the art supply stores.

Can I draw my own design for a tattoo? ›

Is It Okay To Bring Your Own Design To A Tattoo Artist? Yes. A lot of people take a design they want to a tattooist. The tattooist will then advise you if it is suitable for tattooing and if they can replicate it.

What size font should a tattoo be? ›

As your tattoo ages, it will naturally expand within your skin. Intricate fonts will naturally begin to expand, and overtime may distort the quality and legibility of the tattoo! Your tattoo lettering size MUST be at least 1/2″ tall or more.

How much is the average flash tattoo? ›

Some tattoo artists charge a flat rate for specific pre-drawn designs or flash on the wall. How much are tattoos based on pre-existing designs? Typically in the $100 to $200 range, depending on the size and other factors.

Is there an app to create tattoo designs? ›


The most popular app to use for tattoo design ideas is Inkhunter. There are plenty of positive ratings and reviews that go along with this app. The main attraction to this app is the use of augmented reality. You are able to preview a tattoo in real-time and try it on any body part.

What printer can I use for tattoo stencils? ›

You can use a regular printer to create a tattoo; you just need to make sure that you are using the correct paper type for tattoo stencils. This paper would be thermal paper or hectograph carbon paper. The tattoo transfer paper can be used with an inkjet or laser printer without any issues.

Can tattoo artist be self taught? ›

Yes, you can. In fact a lot of artists who have been in the industry since many years are self-taught. It just means that you will take many years to become an expert or even gain a renowned status because all your learning will come from the different experiences you have in the course of time as an artist.

How much does a tattoo designer earn? ›

The average tattoo artist salary in London can rise to over £50,000 per year. Tattoo artists usually charge clients by the hour. Their hourly rate typically increases as they become more experienced and well-established.

How do Beginners start tattooing? ›

How to Become a Tattoo Artist: 7 Tattoo Tips for Beginners
  1. 1) Get Ready to Take Your Time. ...
  2. 2) Consider Going to Art School. ...
  3. 3) Take An Online Course. ...
  4. 4) Get Advice, Experience, and Mentorship From Current Tatto Artists. ...
  5. 5) Invest In Good Equipment. ...
  6. 6) Never Stop Practicing. ...
  7. 7) Master All the Techniques But Find a Style.

Do tattoo artists sell flash? ›

Sometimes a design includes a separate line drawing, which is drawn on a different sheet and used so that the artist doesn't need to draw their own new outline with each tattoo. Flash art may either have been personally drawn by the artist giving the tattoo, or may be sold by an artist to a shop.

Do tattoo artists only do one flash? ›

Some artists will refuse to reuse a flash design after it's been tattooed, but most of the time, they will use their flash designs on multiple clients. If a client wants a custom piece but they like something from a flash sheet, you can work off that design and change it to create a custom tattoo.

How much should I charge per tattoo? ›

Average tattoo prices range from $30 to $100 for sizes under 2x2, between $100 and $200 for a 3x3, and around $250 or more for a 4x4 tattoo. Prices depend on where you live, the experience level of the artist, their hourly rates, and if it's a custom tattoo.

Is it rude to show a tattoo artist another tattoo? ›

The majority of reputable tattoo artists will not copy another tattoo and will be offended if you ask them to. They are artists in their own right and are able to produce stunning designs of their own. By copying another tattoo, it's not only seen as rude, but it could be violating copyright laws.

How much do you tip for flash tattoos? ›

You generally tip your tattoo artist 20% - 30% of the price of your design. If your design takes more than one session, you can tip at the end of the final session.

Can multiple people get the same flash tattoo? ›

Hearts, roses, symbols, and more will generally be considered as market flash. They require less design input and tend to be generic patterns and pictures. It means that the same tattoo design may be used on more than one client, and your tattoo will not be unique.

Can tattoo artists use other artists flash? ›

The biggest issue you need to contend with in using another artist's work is copyright law. Artists who create their own work, even if they publish it online, own the rights to those images, so you could be violating copyright law in taking that design to use for your tattoo.

What should I paint my flash tattoo? ›

You can use water color but I prefer Daler Rowney F.W. Liquid Acrylics. You'll need water for rinsing and a paper towel. Also a good selection of small to medium watercolor/acrylic brushes.

How long do flash tattoos last? ›

How long does it last? Around four to six days, although scrubbing with soap in the shower or applying lotions can drastically shorten your tat's lifespan.

What are the three drawing modes in flash? ›

Flash has three different Pencil drawing modes: Straighten, Smooth, and Ink. The Straighten Pencil mode excels with the straight lines.

What are the two drawing modes in flash? ›

There are two drawing modes in Flash: Object Drawing and Normal.

What is drawing tool in flash? ›

When you are comfortable enough to start drawing in Flash, you have two weapons of choice: the pencil and the paintbrush. The Pencil tool always provides a much tighter style than the Paintbrush tool. The Paintbrush tool combined with the pressure sensitivity option allows for a loose style.

How do you transfer designs to tattoo paper? ›

Place the piece of paper with your original design under the carbon paper and on top of the under sheet. Put the whole set of papers through a thermographic transfer maker. This is specialty equipment that you can find in some tattoo shops. Some printing shops might also have the transfer maker you need.

What do tattoo artists use to transfer designs? ›

Most tattoo studios use a machine called a thermal imager to make their stencils. This saves on literally hours of tracing time by simply inserting your tattoo design into the machine, and it transfers it onto a special thermal paper in seconds.

Will tattoo artists copy a drawing? ›

Yes, a tattooist can copy a picture you want as long as the design is not copyrighted. However, not every picture will work well as a tattoo. Try to imagine how the picture will fit on your body and where it will fit. The tattooist can still copy the design even if it is copyrighted.

What do tattoo artists use to print tattoos? ›

Thermal paper – this type of paper uses heat to transfer the design from the printer onto the paper. Thermal paper is currently only used by tattoo artists to create tattoo stencils.

Is a flash tattoo unique? ›

A collector flash design is a unique piece of artwork created by the tattoo artist. They will mimic the style and interest of the tattoo artist, like any other artwork. Many tattoo artists have gained a following through their collector flash designs.

Are flash tattoos only done once? ›

These tattoos are far away from having common designs and they can be very interesting. The tattoo artists usually have special binders for their collector flash tattoos, which they only do once on a customer (most of the time). They generally do not repeat the tattoos when done using a collector flash design.

How much should flash tattoos cost? ›

Some tattoo artists charge a flat rate for specific pre-drawn designs or flash on the wall. How much are tattoos based on pre-existing designs? Typically in the $100 to $200 range, depending on the size and other factors.

What style are flash tattoos? ›

Typically, flash tattoos are done in a style called American traditional, or old-school.

Do flash tattoos expire? ›

People often ask: “Do your temporary tattoos expire?” I'm always happy to say: No, not really. They are surprisingly resilient! Their only natural enemy is extreme heat and humidity.

Do flash tattoos cost less? ›

Flash Tattoos

They are often smaller and cost less due to the stock quality of the image. These are popular tattoos for special promotions such as Friday the 13th. They typically have a cost of roughly $50 depending on the level of color and detail involved.

How long do small flash tattoos take? ›

Small tattoos usually take under an hour to make. Palm-sized tattoo would take from one to three hours to make. Hand sized tattoo can take up to 5 hours to make. Full sleeve tattoo can take 6-10 hours to make.

Can you ask a tattoo artist to change a flash design? ›

Sure. It's your body, your tattoo, your money and your pain. The tattoo will last on your body for a long long long time and you deserve to have it made exactly the way you want. I adjusted and changed the design of my first tattoo numerous times in the parlor and the tattoo artist was kind enough to oblige patiently.

How are flash tattoos made? ›

A process known as screen printing is used to create the tattoo image on paper coated with a transfer film. The transfer film allows the image to "slide" off the backing paper and onto the skin when moisture is applied. After drying, the film holds the image on the skin through several washings.

How much should a beginner tattoo artist charge? ›

Tattoo Cost Per Hour
Artist & ExperienceHourly Rate
Beginner (1-3 yrs)$80 – $120
Established Artist (5-10 yrs)$120 – $180
Experienced Artist (10+ yrs)$150 – $250
Famous Artist$200 – $500

Is it rude to ask tattoo price? ›

Not at all! It's actually a good idea to ask to make sure you can afford it. Also, don't make the mistake of thinking that just because it is a small tattoo that looks simple it will be cheaper. Most tattoo artists where I live charge by the hour, with the minimum payment being 1 hour.

What kind of paint do you use for flash tattoos? ›

You can use water color but I prefer Daler Rowney F.W. Liquid Acrylics. You'll need water for rinsing and a paper towel. Also a good selection of small to medium watercolor/acrylic brushes.

Why is it called flash tattoo? ›

Why 'Flash'? The posted images of tattoo designs that you can find on the walls of almost every tattoo shop in the world is known as “flash,” which is a name that comes from a time at the start of tattooing when artists had to work on the move, as tattooing was still very much an elicit practice.

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