We get it all the time, “Man that’s really dark, I dunno…” from someone who doesn’t tattoo (or who doesn’t tattoo well). The diagnosis: fresh black and grey blues!
No worries, we at Cardinal Tattoo are here to help! You see, when the skin is tattooed there is an inflammatory response that results in some minor swelling and a darkening of the skin due purely to irritation. This darkening will continue to build for approximately 20 minutes during the tattoo process before it begins to subside, this is of course a general rule, everyone’s a little different. Also, certain parts of the body can darken, or take on a more reddish hue in people with lighter skin tones, more than others. Calves tend to get darker that arms for instance, especially after the person stands.
Once the client goes home, the real detail of the piece won’t be discernible for several days, until the upper layer of skin flakes off and the finished tattoo is revealed underneath. During the tattoo process, the upper (non-permanent) layer of skin is damaged and will flake off similar to a sunburn usually within a week of getting the tattoo. This layer of skin has absorbed pigment as well, so the tattoo must be applied darker than how we want it to be in order to allow for this lightening during the exfoliation process.
Refer to the example here: The fresh tattoo is really dark, some of the details are harder to make out and may blend together a bit. Once compared to the healed version below, we can see the difference in the hair, eyes, and the overall exposure of the piece. It exhibits a good amount of detail and contrast, the eyes look alive and the tattoo has a lifelike quality that you want from a portrait. It is smooth and without healing defects, performed in a single five-and-a-half hour session by our resident realism artist Will. At the time of this photo, roughly four weeks into the healing process, the tattoo has already ‘greyed out’ nicely, taking on the look it will have for years to come!
Thank you for taking the time to read this and understand the art and craft of professional tattooing with us at cardinaltattoo.com
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