Fake tattoos for film

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Dec 26, 2012
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I hope this is the right place to post. I was wondering if anyone here has done tattoos for film? I recently picked up the temptu pro transfer deluxe workstation so I could try it and practice. I found the paints to be a bit thick for a realistic look but I'm wondering how it transfers to the screen. I diluted the colors with alcohol since they are alcohol based and colored in a b/g tat I have (actually it just hasn't been colored yet, just shaded) and it turned out pretty decent for a first run using them. Any one have any tips? Suggestions? Notes that I screwed up by diluting it? Thanks! Brie


I've never used the temptu pros but it sounds like it's fine to dilute them with IPA if they're alcohol based.

The Tinsley transfers are pretty good and they can make whatever you design - it's good to have transfers for continuity if you are going to be needing to repeat it on a regular basis. You do need to powder them though, or flick/airbrush a bit of flesh tone over them to sink them in, they can be a bit shiny and new looking.

Depends what the budget is of the project.

For a cheap and cheerful transfer you can find the image you want and print it out then photocopy it. (This doesn't work on all photocopiers and I have no idea what makes it work and not work but it's trial and error!).

Cut out the image and place it on the skin in the right place. Saturate the paper with acetone and press (same process as for tinsley but acetone, not water!) and peel off. Ta da!  You can then touch up with inks if you need to. Of course if there's any writing on the tattoo you have to make sure it's mirror image so it turns out the right way on the skin.

I have used this method to great effect on many small jobs - it's my best kept secret! (Well, not any more...)

Good luck.

Oh wow thanks!!! I will definitely have to try that! Those are some great tips thank you! I'm thinking I have to try different brush for freehand since the one that came with it is a bit thick. I hadn't even thought of how to reproduce them for continuity yet. Since I'm stuck in bed sick I'm thinking ill try out the printer trick and see if my printer will do it!

The film industry norm for fake tattoos that we use are Pros-Aide tattoo transfers. Very easy, very fast, (all you need is water to apply them, no chemicals, so they are very safe on the actors) very easy to touch-up and they last about 5 days, great for continuity. Haven't used the Tinsly Transfers, but from what I've seen and read, it does sound similar, application wise. On Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, we used thousands of Pros-aide tattoo transfers on about 200 actors/stunts/extras. Most were topless and we had to do entire upper bodies (necks, fronts, backs, and sleeves) and all were continuity for the 56 day shoot. For the branding scars, we used the same Pros-Aide transfers as well. That may sound like a lot, but in reality, it took only about 15-20 min to apply 15 extra large tattoos per person. For touch-ups, all we used was the black/white pigments In the F/X Skin Illustrator palettes to get that dull grey look to them, especially in the neck and inside arm areas. Ours were made in-house by our prosthetic guy in his shop, since they were custom designed tatts. To make them, all you need is water slide transfer paper, Pros-Aide, water, no colour or translucent powder, towel, powder brush, computer with photoshop or other similar graphics software, and a laser printer. A regular ink type printer won't work. Just create your design on the computer, laser print them onto the water slide paper, add a very thin and very even layer of Pros-Aide to the transfer paper, let dry. To apply, do as you would a Tinsly Transfer.

Yes, now there was a great article in makeup artist mag, was it last issue or the one before? that detailed how to make your own transfers just like the ones Vogueboy is talking about. I have it somewhere... Ok, it's the latest issue, number 99, if you can get your hands on that it gives a great step by step.

Ah, thanks Linear, good to know about that tutorial. Since this trailer is up, I can finally post those tattoos that we used for this film. [VIDEO]


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