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Tutorial: Printable Tattoos


Due to the tiny dimensions that Monster High dolls have, hand drawn tattoos are usually the best way to eek as much control and detail as you can to go around those curves. Keep those pencils sharp and use a lot of medium to keep your paints smooth and thin.

Do you have a tutorial for your printed tattoo method? If not, can you give me a basic step-by-step?

<strong>Nikii Green</strong>


Why yes, and this one is for you! =)

byakko-tattooPrintable tattoos! Yep. You can design the tattoos with your favorite illustration/image editing application, print them out and apply them on your doll.

What you will need:

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  • Mr. Super Clear or Testor’s Dull Coat for sealing
  • Printable Tattoo Paper

silhouettetattooFor my printed tattoos, I used Silhouette Temporary Tattoo Paper. I was looking for a brand that had similar properties to fake designer tattoos that you dip in water and place on your skin. Applying with water meant that you can apply the tattoo on curved surfaces. I also wanted to make sure that anything printed on these sheets would also retain the detail at a small scale.

This particular brand has three steps involved for application, which may be a little tedious, but worth it: 1) Print out your design, 2) Apply a “sticker” agent, 3) Use Water to apply the design on your doll. Be sure to read the directions and follow them.

Using printable tattoos mean that if you made a mistake, you can remove the tatoo and start over again. If you’re starting out, it’s always a good idea to print out multiple copies of the same tattoo in case your initial application fails. You will need to work fast to make minor adjustments.

You don’t have to use this brand and there are probably a lot better alternatives out there, this just happened to be the best one available to me. Just keep in mind the following properties: 1) Applied using water, 2) Print quality. If you’re already using some kind of temporary printable tattoo and you like the print quality and are familiar in using it, use that!

Prepare your tattoo

First, decide where and what kind of tattoo you want for your doll. Search the web for designs you might want to use or use your favorite graphic editor (Photoshop, Gimp, Inkscape, etc) to design your tattoo.

Once you have decided, measure your doll to get an idea of how you need to scale the image down for print. Be sure to read the instructions on how to use your printable tattoo sheets. For the Silhouette brand that I used, the tattoo image had to be flipped due to  the process that it was to be applied.

ajaxPrep your doll

Optional: Just as with repaints, you need traction for the printed tattoo to hold on to. If you don’t mind, sand the surface of the body down. Sand down any uneven areas, especially where you plan to apply the tattoo.

Monster High dolls usually have a mold release residue on them so you need to give them a thorough bath first before you can do any repainting beforehand. Use ordinary dish soap (with a de-greaser) and let the doll dry off completely overnight.

Once the mold release residue is taken care of, spray the body with Mr. Super Clear or Testor’s dull coat. This will help give the surface some traction for the printed tattoo to hold on to, as well as protect the surface below.

WARNING: Just as with repainting, please take the proper safety precautions when using sealants. Apply them outdoors or at a well ventilated area with a safety mask.

Apply Tattoo!

At this point, just make sure to follow the instructions that come with your Printable Tattoo paper for application. Pay close attention to the edges of the applied tattoo. Make sure the surface is smooth and bump free, the bumps will cause the tattoo to crack when you seal it later on.

Since Silhouette brand is applied by water, you can also use water to remove it (with more water and a damp cloth). Be sure to let your doll clean and dry completely before you try applying another tattoo.

Be sure to let the tattoo dry off completely before sealing.

Seal it!

Once you’re happy with the tattoo’s placement, use Mr. Super Clear or Testor’s dull coat to keep the tattoo permanent.

For examples of dolls that I’ve used this method on, check out Thalia and Chelle at the gallery.

This method only really works on the body due to the rigid plastic. I don’t really recommend using this anywhere on the soft vinyl heads due to the “sticker” surface being more noticeable and a possible, unwanted chemical reaction of the adhesive against soft vinyl.


This Post Has 7 Comments

    1. It should but it’ll be very difficult to adhere on round surfaces. There will be some sculpts where it works and others where you’ll want to prepare multiple eyes because it’ll take multiple tries to get it right.

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