Thursday, 10 December 2009

Tattoos and Teddy Bears

My cousin Sindie died recently, after a long battle with cancer. It was especially sad, as she was only young, and a very life-affirming person. When she was well, she designed and made the most exquisite and funny bears:

Her husband, Gary, has apparently been thinking about having a tattoo for a while, and has decided to do it in memory of Sindie. He wants an angel and has been searching for the right image.

Gary found a photo of something similar to what he was after, but it was a bit 'goth': too brooding and dark, very skinny and androgynous, and doing something of an Alice Cooper impression round the eyes!

Which is where I come in. Gary asked me if I would create something for him, based on the goth angel, but making it far more positive, like Sindie.

It's not really my field, but I've given it my best shot, and this is what I've come up with:

It was a lot of fun actually, having a go at something so different.

I started by redesigning the face (I was going for a kind of Mona Lisa half-smile...) and did a grey-scale painting in Photoshop.

Then I reworked the wings and body, keeping the basic pose, but fleshing things out, so the angel was plumper and healthier.

I looked up tattoo techniques to find out what to do about shading, and discovered they use colour a lot. So I converted my painting to 3 tones (using Photoshop's 'posterize' filter) and then tried out various colour combos, until I found a pair that I liked with the black. Things like that are SOOO much easier with a computer.

It was looking pretty good, except for her skin, where the hard-edged, graphic areas of colour were too crude, and much too 'heavy' to work well on Gary's arm.

So I used a very large 'Dissolve' pencil, on low opacity, to get this speckle effect, which helped blend the colours, soften the whole thing up and proved very useful for fading her out at the bottom.

In reality, there should be some fore-shortening of the left wing, but Gary wants the tattoo to stretch well round from his upper arm, back over his shoulder blade, and I'm confident it won't notice once she's in-situ. The ring wing is designed to spread forwards almost to the nipple.

I've just gone back and got rid of that black line, running down towards her belly-button too. It look better.

I've also managed to find a way to convert the whole thing to just black, in case Gary doesn't like the colour effect. I just converted it back to greyscale, then turned it into a Bitmap:

I do hope he likes it. It's quite a responsibility, designing an image that someone will wear so large, and so permanently. If he goes for it, I'll try and talk Gary into letting me take a photo, so you can see it 'in action'!


Helen Pickup said...

WOW! that looks brilliant!

A Cuban In London said...

I do hope he chooses it because your design is beautiful. I'm sorry to read about your cousin, reading as I am, that she was a very creative person.

Thanks for such a lovely post.

Greetings from London.

Damian Harvey said...

Lynne, this is a sad but equally uplifting diary entry today. Sindie'sbears look wonderful - as you say, exquisite and funny. And I love the angel you have done... a very different side to your artistic ability. You could do very well at this drawing lark.

granny grimble said...

That is so beautiful and so unlike your usual work. It reminds me a little of the drawings you used to do when you were a young teenager. Can't wait to see the 'finished article'. No doubt Gary will be round to flex his biceps for me!

Babs-beetle said...

Wow! Very imposing angel!

Croom said...

Lynne this art work is phenomenal! I hope Gary loves it as much, I know this must have to be a very special angel for him and I think you just may have captured what he wanted. Photo please. Tina Spain

Diana said...

What a challenge to do a tatoo. You've done an amazing job. Hopefully, we will get to see the finish product.


Philip Morgan said...

Sorry to hear about the loss of your cousin, I'm sure it helps being so involved in a tribute to to her. The design looks fantastic, and will look great as a tattoo.

Sindie's bears are fantastic too, o much character and life.

Jessie said...

Wow Lynne, it looks amazing. You've done a fantastic job, it's a lovely tribute to your cousin.xx

Ira Robbins said...

Beautiful, what an angel. So alive.

Joanna Dover said...

Good job! hope he likes it - let us know!

Mary said...

That's awesome, I'd love to see the finished tattoo, you are clever.
Your Cousin's bear designs are gorgous, I think teddy bears are a lovely way to remeber someone. I have one (it's actually a cat) made by an old friend and it's just like a little bit of her stays with me where ever I go. Mary x