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white before cover up?

ive seen and heard of guys laying in white over a tattoo before covering it up. the only ones ive seen have been pretty small. would this be recommended for a large tribal shoulder cap? it is very solid and the bars of it are about an inch thick.


RE:white before cover up?

I don't recommend you doing that. I've tried to do it years ago over a name and it looked like it would be fine but when it healed up you could still see it pretty good. But a solid tribal your going to run into problems with it and it will be really hard to cover. But that's just my experience with that.
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RE:white before cover up?


Hey bro,

White will not work for a coverup, eventually once the ink settles the underlying ink will show through over time.. best options for a coverup are using colors that do well at reflecting light. like green, purples or blue. for example blue is a great color for coverups, because blue light travels in smaller waves, and so when light reflects of the blue ink it will be more pronounced than say a red or yellow. also, when doing coverups, you want to try and lay the ink in the upper part of the second layer of skin, with good saturation of the skin without overworking it. this will help with any skin interference from the spectrum of light as they penetrate the skin and reflect back through. think of it like putting a blue ball into muddy water, the further you push the ball down the harder it is to see because light is having a hard time reflecting through the mud. so the more you can lay the ink in the upper part of the second layer, the better the chance it will be more effective in the coverup. make sense? you can cover even tribal art if you do this correctly.. also, if you use the underlying piece as a base for your new design and use opaque colors to mute it, you can help eliminate any undertones when you finish. for example using your blues as your base for the overall design and then using opaque grey tones over the old tribal will help give the illusion that the new color is darker or lighter than it really is. and when you use contrasting highlights next to your base values it will distract the eyes from any imperfections and help you to see the new design as a whole.....

hope that helps. Take care.

Stephen Stacey
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RE:white before cover up?

Excellent description on the proper execution of a cover up Steven. You are truly a rare charm, most people either have the knowledge of how to do things right, or they have the ability to explain things in a way that the general masses can understand. Your one of the rare cases of a person who possesses both attributes, and your a real asset to the industry because of this.

Now onto my take on the original question (probably much harder to understand lol). I don't think the OP was wanting to use white to cover the existing tattoo, but rather using some white out sessions to help lighten up the black in order to make it easier to cover.
White out sessions do work to a certain extent, but are by no means a cute all. They come with their own set of problems so you really need to weigh the pros and cons before considering going that route.

Packing white in on top of old black will not totally cover the black, although at first it may seem like it would work like that, eventually once the white pigment settles it mixes with the black that's already there, and the black will show through. But the white mixing with the old black will muddy the black and lighten it up some.
To achieve the best results you have to do this over several sessions. Go in and lay a layer of white over the black, let it heal and settle. Oncethe white settles with the black it's time for another session, lay another layer of white, and repeat. You have to do that as many times as necessary until you lighten the black to a shade your comfortable with. Generally each session will lighten the black approx. 10%.

Obviously this is going to open the door to a laundry list of issues that need to be taken into consideration before even considering going this route.
1. Obviously this is going to increase the time necessary to complete your over all piece. A typical 2 session tattoo is now going to take 5+ sessions, and the better part of the year to complete.
2. Increases the possibility of over working the skin. This is pretty self explanatory, more time on the same area, more chance of over working.
3. Scar tissue, even being extremely careful scar tissue can form just because the same spot has been opened, and healed so many times.extreme care needs to be taken to baby the skin the best as possible.
4. Once you complete your whiteout sessions and start on the actual cover art you'll be working on 2 distinctly different colored bases. Therefore your pigments will give you 2 different shades based on which base your working on. If your on the normal flesh tone of the client you'll get one color, if your on one of the whiteout areas the color will be different because it's mixing with a different colored base tone.

Once you take everything into consideration it's rather apparent why you normally only see this method used in small applications. Once the piece gets so big the cons outweigh the pros. I'm not saying that it can't be done, but I've been in the industry since 92 and I've never seen a large piece done this way. I've seen a few attempts, but none of them looked very good (to me anyways)

Personally if it were me I'd look for other ideas to cover the shoulder piece. Either go the way Steven explained, or if there is enough open skin you could consider a negative space design and use the existing black to your advantage.
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RE:white before cover up?

Thank all you guys for the help. I've been struggling on how to approach this tattoo for a while and your advice definitely helped a lot. And yeah I won't be using the white out method based on your advice.
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RE:white before cover up?

Would white out work for a very minor adjustment? Just to make a few lines shorter?
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