Fake Tattoos in photoshop

This is a fun way to give your friends bad tattoos. 
Get a photo, make up a stupid tattoo, and have at it.

Step 1.    Open your image. I used this one.
Figure A.

Step 2.    Create a new layer, to draw your tattoo, or place an existing design
           (make sure it's got a a transparent background) or just use the type
           tool if you just want text.  I suggest using a black design for now,
           colors work well too for this though.

           Arrange your design so that it looks natural.  If you're using type,
           angle different words slightly, and you can even make the letters
           a tiny bit offset, or uneven, to make it look like it was tattooed by hand.
Figure B.


Step 3.  Now we have to make it look real.  First, CTRL + click on your tattoo design
         layer to select it.
         - Now go to >Select >Modify >Border  The value you use depends on the
           size of your image.

          You want to make a border selection around the image that is not too big,
          or too small.  I chose  border selection width of 2.  Here's what the
          border looks like up close.
Figure C.

Step 4.  With this border selected, do a copy and paste to put the border/outline on another layer.
              - This is what the outline layer should look like (with the main tattoo layer hidden)
Figure D.


Step 6.   On the outline layer, do a  >Filter >Blur >Gaussian Blur.
          I used a radius of  0.4 but it really depends on the size
          of your image, so you may have to adjust it.  Here's what
          my blurred outline looks like to give you an idea of how much
          I blurred it.
Figure E.

Step 7.    Now, make the main layer (the tattoo design) visible, and decrease
           the opacity of it to make the outline stand out.  I made mine 35%

Here is the final product.  It looks like an older faded tattoo, which in my
opinion makes it look real.
Figure F.

After you make the outline, you can do an >Image >Adjustments>
Hue/Saturation, and colorize the main tattoo layer if you want color.

Here are some more examples:


If this tutorial was confusing in anyway, or did not work out for you
feel free to contact me.  tom@tomledin.com