After finally finishing my 2D digital animated short, Veggie Propaganda a few weeks ago, I finally have time to focus on a few freelance projects as my impending maternity leave from The American University of Rome looms (November 18, 2011).

Just yesterday I created a tattoo design for a friend from my hometown of Swansea, Massachusetts. She had asked me to create a drawing revolving around “The Three Birds” song by Bob Marley. It was to go on the back of her neck and each bird would represent one of her children. Sadly, a few years ago she lost two twin boys about halfway through her pregnancy. Today however, she is the proud mother of a healthy three year-old girl.

I first played around with several compositions, with the most obvious choice being three birds sitting on a branch. However, I thought that her intended meaning might come through better if the two birds representing the twins were on the branch sleeping and in a protective pose over the flying bird representing her daughter.


Simple black and white version



I normally try to ask clients to give me adjectives to describe the type of drawing they want (example: somber, cartoony, morose, intricate, flirty, screaming, etc) or to give me a sample of a drawing done in a style that they like since I can imitate anything. My friend however wanted me to surprise her, so I did.

Normally when just drawing in my style, I use a lot of intricate lines and cross-hatching, but I figured a tattoo artist tracing over such an image on skin would want to kill me. I kept things very simple and somewhat innocent-looking. After all, my friend isn’t getting a battleship across her chest!


Sketchy color version

I ended up sending her about six variations with different color schemes as well as a few visualization images so she could picture how it might look on the back of her neck, depending on which size she wanted. I was expecting that she might want changes or have other suggestions, but this was the response she gave me for the designs:

I got them! They are perfect!! Just what I was looking for!! Didn’t get a chance to reply sooner-had to go to a work-skills-thingy. But, they are beautiful!! Just don’t know if I should do color or B&W??


Visualization Image 2


Whew! So I guessed right. It was quite a fun project and I hope to be able to do more digital illustration work in the future.