Tattooing on dark skin requires a little more effort on the part of the artist, both in dealing with the customer and doing the actual work. The problem with tattooing dark skin is that because the ink is being seen from behind the skin, many colors tend to get muted out or can appear dull. For this reason, a tattoo artist has to evaluate the skin of the client and make recommendations based on what he or she sees. Coffee colored skin can handle most colors, although those on the darker side of these tones may want to avoid certain colors. For those with darker skin, it's best to stick with black, red and grey.
For those with extremely dark skin, black is recommended. Of course, this limits the type of design that can be used, as some designs require the separation of colors to work. That's where the artist must explain to the client that in order to get the best possible outcome, compromise may be necessary. Another important aspect of tattooing on dark skin is the size of the tattoo.
The greater the size, the better the distinction of the design in most cases. You want the tattoo to have enough surface area to be easily recognized. Because the surface is darker, smaller tattoos can tend to look like a blob of non-descriptive ink from afar. Encourage the client to allow the largest design they can handle in an area to avoid this phenomenon.
The biggest thing to remember when tattooing dark skin is the level of contrast you need in order to make the tattoo stand out. Thin lines can easily get lost, while thicker, bolder lines are more apt to show well on dark skin. You may need to go over the skin more than once or twice to get a stronger contrast, but always be careful when doing so.
A sparse, large tattoo with bold lines will look substantially better on dark skin than will a small, tight tattoo with thin lines. Hopefully, these tips will help you provide the best results when tattooing dark skin. As always, your clients may need you to explain what the end result is most likely to look like prior to starting the work so that you can guide them in the right direction.
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