Take a walk on the wild side with amazing tattoo-style designs. Crank up that thrash metal playlist, grab a pencil, warm up the scanner and learn to work like a tattoo artist.

Even if the tattooist’s toolset is a little different from that of the digital illustrator, you can reproduce their techniques digitally – pain-free.

In this tutorial you’ll get the skills needed to go from a simple sketch to an insanely detailed, tattoo-inspired, vector illustration. Also, you’ll see how the process of creating individual vector elements, then duplicating them and combining them with stock vectors, can save time and allow you to create more pieces for your clients.

We’ve included all the files you’ll need to follow the tutorial from beginning to end, including some bonus vectors from thegoldenblack.com.

These resources are completely royalty-free, so you can incorporate them into your next design, whether it’s personal work, or a project for clients.

01. Before we pick up the mouse and start clicking, dig out that pencil and start sketching a simple line art drawing for our snake body. Just use a normal sheet of printer paper. As you can see, I haven’t put much time into making this sketch look good. It’s simply a reference for the next step. I’ve included my sketch files on the cover CD if you don’t feel like drawing.