The practice of tattooing dates back to ancient times and has been used by many different cultures for various causes. In many cases, tattoos conveyed important cultural and religious beliefs or have been used to symbolize group membership or social status. The art of tattooing has evolved over the years. Many contemporary artists are inspired by the rich history of tattooing, and the genre continues to influence and inspire artistic expression in all genres and forms.
Tattoos can be emotionally significant, serving as a way to honor loved ones, celebrate milestones, and express individuality. The process of getting a tattoo can also be cathartic. Tattoos can provide a sense of connection, meaning, and empowerment.
In this article, I want to explore what tattoo styles MJ knows and how it can be used to create a unique and personal tattoo.
To begin, I checked the most popular tattoo styles against Midjourney using a uniform prompt: "xxx tattoo style --v 4." I cut each sample's last part of the prompt, leaving only the style name.
However, some other widely known and used styles were left unrecognized. Midjourney tried improvising, though!
What about tattoo artists? Well, I fed almost six dozen names to Midjourney, and only one returned a distinct result.
Sailor Jerry was the nickname of Norman Keith Collins, an American tattoo artist who was active in the first half of the 20th century. Collins was known for his unique and distinctive style of tattooing, which blended elements of American and Japanese tattoo traditions. He was a pioneer of the modern tattoo industry and a mentor to many other tattoo artists.
Midjourney knows many of the principal tattooing styles, but the most important thing is to create something that is meaningful and special to you and that reflects your own unique personality and style. Let's see if we can produce a custom-made tattoo design using other artistic styles.
Tattoo prompts can be easily combined with non-tattoo artists' styles, genres, and techniques. But how can we achieve a clearer picture and strip our tattoo design of unnecessary context?
First, let's ask Midjourney directly by adding "drawing" or "drawing on paper" to our tattoo prompts. Naturally, the results will often be a literal drawing on paper—on a table, with pens and pencils on the side. We can try avoiding this by adding a negative segment to our prompts: "--no pen pencils brushes table."
Still, among hits, there will be a lot of misses: some pictures will still be generated with pens, tables, and on sheets of paper, even with "--no paper" in the prompt.
These images might already be enough for a professional tattoo artist to make an actionable drawing! But can we make our designs even more usable? Of course, we can! ಠ‿↼Let's create a tattoo from a non-tattoo generation using Midjourney's Remix feature.
For this trial, I started with a tattoo-prompt and then used the same prompt without "tattoo," and then remixed "tattoo" back in.
Many artists' styles are perfect for tattoo designs, even though original authors might have never designed a tattoo in their life. We only need to get rid of borders by adding shaping commands to our prompts. And if a generation is too complex, it can be remixed to its simplified version.
Finally, what about Image Prompts? They work! However, when using portraits for original images, you might want to manually reduce their realism. For this example, I turned a photograph of Francis D into a (very bad) pencil drawing, and the outcome was perfect for a tattoo!
And, of course, it works perfect with drawings that are already "half-way tattoos."
That's it for today! These examples and trials are not intended to be a definitive guide or recipe. Rather, it is a collection of ideas to help you get started, build upon, and inspire you to create something unique and personal — as any tattoo should be! <3
-- Yours, Andrei
P.S. A very special thank you to Alfons Müller for suggesting tattoos as a theme for my weekly Midjourney research!
P.P.S. Since I am not an expert on tattoo art, this little research might miss some important names or styles. If you think there is something to be added to this article, please, send me a note via the form below. ↓
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All samples are produced by Midlibrary team using Midjourney AI. Naturally, they are not representative of real artists' works/real-world prototypes.
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