Real Tattoos, fake tattoos and the FTS System

Hummingbird transfer Tattoo explained

Faux Tattoo Stencils and the FTS System of techniques produce the highest form of temporary tattoo there is. Why? Because they are applied by skilled artists. They are actually painted and not transferred. This is also why they are so realistic. We call our tats FX tattoos because this is an evolution from the temporary tattoos of the past. FTS tattoos are simply different. It’s important to understand the differences between FTS FX tattoos vs. the other forms of temporary tattoo. Transfers are simple graphics printed onto special paper that is coated in glue. They are applied the same way you would apply a temporary drug store tattoo—by adding water and carefully peeling off the paper. These are no different then the water slide transfers that are used in model car and plane kits and small crafts. Transfers have been the standard form of fx tattoo application for years. They can be applied by anyone, no skill is required. Our process is more in depth, and therefore the results are much more significant. We aspire to a higher level of artistic integrity. In order to understand and fully utilize the FTS system, knowledge of the REAL tattoo is essential. As part of the FTS system of applying fx tattoos, makeup artists should understand these fundamental aspects of real tattoos:

  • How a tattoo looks through it’s life span and also how to mimic the effects of aging tattoos with stencils and freehand brush and airbrush techniques
  • Different tattoo styles, from trending and current styles to classic styles and their origins
  • Tattoo History & Lore- FTS artists should understand the symbolism behind tattoos of different eras, scenarios and regions- this helps character building and plot lines
  • Period tattoos, the tools used to render them and how they evolved – This helps the artist render a tattoo that is of the proper era

When you look at a real tattoo, you can clearly see that it is a tattoo because of the tell tale characteristics we know to be present in a tattoo. Examples of this are obvious when we consider that the ink is IN the skin. The look of the tattoo should not seem to sit on the skin, and there should be no tell tale “halo” effect or inappropriate shininess.

Hummingbird Transfer
Hummingbird Transfer – Transfers Require no skill to apply. It’ obvious in the results.
These monstrosities are hard to miss. Unless you are at a low end Bar Mitvah, this should be avoided at all costs.
Example of a cheap airbrush tattoo. These are so bad they are hard to miss and should be avoided at all costs.

Tattoo lines should have a soft edge, not a hard edge found in badly wrought temporary tattoo applications. For the most part, we should perceive that the tattoo is underneath the skin. We should see a texture, and we should see a believable color. For instance, tattoos for the most part are not solid black. Unless they are very new, the ink reads as a blue black when it settles in the upper dermis of the skin. With an FTS fx tattoo, the object for the artist is to mimic those tell tale characteristics. We have developed our stencils to do that as much as possible by designing each stencil first as a real tattoo with real tattoo lines the same way a real tattoo artist does. Then we make that tattoo design into a cutting edge airbrush tattoo stencil. Whether or not the tattoo being portrayed is a beautiful work of art or a hot mess, the goal for us is always in designing a stencil that is a template of those believable tattoo lines so that the artist can then use the FTS System to render the believable strokes involved in making the tat into something that literally trick’s the viewer’s eye. THAT is the FTS technique. It is a combination of makeup artistry skills, airbrush skills, a few fine art painting skills, and general tattoo anatomy. Combined, these individual skills become a powerful tool for creating amazing works of skin art. These are not difficult skills to learn and the effort to acquire them comes with enormous payoffs.

When we create our tattoo designs, the bar is set to the highest level, and that is to deceive the naked eye, not just that of an HD 5K camera. If the naked eye is fooled into believing the tattoo is real, (because all of the necessary characteristics are present), then any HD camera or video shot is going to read as a real tattoo. That is always the goal. If applied properly, an FTS tattoo could fool a tattoo artist. THAT is amazing. What is even more amazing is that this very aspect of the work caters to a type of customer no one knew existed- this is the customer who wants to get a tattoo and wishes to test it out for a few days or week. These people do not want a transfer tattoo for a week, they want to BELIEVE it is the real thing. Otherwise why bother? We cater to exactly that need. We provide an experience for our clients.

This is the reference image provided by the client
This is the reference image of the desired tattoo provided to us by the client.

This kind of service has never been available before. Our shop Faux Tattoo Studios is the only place an individual can commission a “test” tattoo application, and remains a large part of our business. Some of our customers traveled miles to get their work done. We understand the need for the service and are  experiencing a growing demand for it. This is why we are dedicated to helping you master this amazing new skill in order to fulfill that growing demand for realistic

Learning the FTS technique can expand the bottom line of many different types of makeup artists. We know from experience that these tools should be in every makeup artist’s arsenal. It is what can raise an artist to an elite level in an industry asking for more fx tattoos every single day.

The FTS technique consists of both physical application skills, and ALSO knowledge of real tattoos themselves. Every kind, from every era. The FTS System can safely be described as a career investment for any makeup artist. We will provide as much general information as we can in this blog, but to fully realize a solid understanding of the FTS System and draw the most from it, we highly recommend taking either our online course (coming soon), taking the course at one of our affiliated makeup schools or workshop intensive at one of our Pro Supply Shops (also coming soon).

We are very excited about the amazing possibilities Faux Tattoo Stencils and the FTS System has to change how FX tattoos are used and applied. We know it’s up to all of us to make it happen. We’re in this together, so together let’s UP THE GAME for fx tattoos in the makeup industry!

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