I won't mince words, I don't enjoy cover ups as much having fresh skin to work with. Some can be extremely labor intensive requiring several sessions, which can be costly, but 'you can't make a silk purse out of a pigs ear'. Cover ups can be very complicated depending on the state of the existing work, and I'm just a simple artist, I'm not a magician.
HOW IT WORKS FOR ME... Usually the client tells me what they'd want to live with or have instead within reason and if it's possible then I try to make it happen, but sometimes the work is so fucked up there isn't much anyone could do with it.
There are lots of ways to cover old work, I prefer to build it in a few sessions concentrating on select areas, I feel it can more effectively completely cover old work. Sometimes the old work is so light that it's a one shot cake walk, but more often than not, it's dark with thick as shit lines, requiring allot of time. But sometimes logistics and time require me to often complete works in one sitting, mainly due to travel, either the client or myself. Good "Cover Ups" aren't cheap, but if you really want to save money, don't get a shitty tattoo to begin with.
Just a few samples of how I go about changing the look of the skin and trying to incorporate some of the old ink into the new work. Free handing the design works best for me. I can either salvage pieces or completely cover existing work utilizing as little black ink as possible. I prefer color for cover up work, using darker hues where needed, but lately have been getting allot of requests to rework or cover using just black and some white ink. But I think that color is more effective for this type of work.
German Sea Eagle This is a good example of one of my methods of cover ups.
I did this at Global Tattoos in the UK. Olaf wanted to be rid of this and I had taken a photo of the old work at SkinTech Tattoo Expo, in Manchester UK, March 2008. He found the image and sent me the link. One look at the photo and I knew I could make this happen. You'll notice my red pen is darker than the ink in his skin.
I may decide to hit some of the lighter areas again once I see it healed next time when I'm in the UK, but the Elephant is dead and gone.
Broadsword & The Beast
A JETHRO TULL album cover When Kevin came in the shop 8 years ago he had this abomination on him. It wasn't 10 or 20 years old, but only a few years old and real shit too. I know what I can & can't do and I knew I could rework this mess. It took 6 or 7 sessions to obliterate the bad and make something presentable of it.
This is over 14 inches in height and 12 in width, bigger than the original album cover, that's old school, back when it was vinyl.
Going over that scarred up skin wasn't pleasant, and it required several months but Kevin is pleased with the results and that's what counts.
Something I like to use often is building up textures in Color.
It's not as simple as it looks, but it's quite effective and I use as little black ink as I can get away with. It can be a time consuming application depending on what's to be covered.
This is one of the many Memorial pieces that I had the privilege to do, I myself lost a few old friends in this tragedy.
Rob wanted to pay homage to his many fallen friends as well and left it up to me to conceive.
I have always liked this work not the circumstances that led to it. And I had no problem turning that old Reaper into the Steel Beam Cross that was blessed at Ground Zero.
Another good example of a piece over a few sessions. Again this technique to create a whole new piece requires allot of time and is dependant on the density of the old work. Some of the old ink may bleed through the lighter areas but overall it's not as obvious.