Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Do You Really Want to Use Tatoos?

If you want to see an illustrator twitch merely suggest tattoos. While they may sound cool, they had an extra level of difficulty to drawing the character as they must only not be designed to serve the character well but must be designed so as to be replicated easily enough. This is sort of why tribal tattoos are so common; they can be easily replicated without thinking them through too much. However, given the uses you can put tattoos to they may be worth it.

Obviously they can be used to make a point about the character. "Edgier" characters are more willing to differentiate themselves from other characters, and tattoos and piercings are but one way to do that. The type of tattoo chosen can tell a lot about the character, as well as how the character sees himself. A tribal tattoo shows someone interested in connecting with a primal part of himself while a Celtic tattoo is trying to connect to his ancestors. A henna tattoo may be a temporary addition, but is a good traditional way of adding to one's appearance. Some tattoos show off a person's desire to prove his toughness or patriotism, just as they can demonstrate a person's artistic side.

The tattoos can also define past and/or current affiliations, such as the yakuza does, as well as American servicemen. It can show gang or tribal membership, something vital for free passage through areas controlled by gangs or tribes. This can also mean instant cred with those groups just as it can mean some restrictions; some Japanese pools forbid those with tattoos. Taking that to an extreme, they can be required in a dystopian atmosphere in order to just do business, such as the Mark of the Beast or a personalized UPC code.They can also demonstrate not beginning to a specific group, such as punks and rebels do.

If you really want to have fun, they can also be used for power. One of those weird cliches you don't see enough of is the tattooed man whose tattoos come to life or have some affect on the character when activated. The exact mechanism doesn't matter, be it magic, nanotech, or even focus-based transmutative abilities, but they can make for some interesting character development, especially if the character has to go on a quest for more tattoos.

If you are looking for a way to add some extra symbolism to your comic, tattoos can work. They also make your illustrator hate you, so use sparingly.

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