Tribal tattoos were generally worn for religious and spiritual purposes by the tribal societies. Nowadays, it has become a fashion statement and is very popular, particularly with men. They have literally become art pieces on neck, back, arm and shoulders or the whole body. There are certain basic rules and elements which need to be followed for tribal tattoo designs.
1. A nice and solid black is the best color outline which must have the right placement. You can sketch in lines using pencil in curved, flowing lines. Pencil lines can be easily cleaned out if you do not like a certain shape. There must be smooth and loose rhythm in the drawing, although for larger designs you can use your whole arm freely instead of just your wrist movement. If you want to use recognizable tribal objects like birds or dragon, then sketch in the larger objects like the wings and spine first.
2. The shapes and lines must be balanced by properly adjusting the weight of the composition. If there are less shapes on one side, then adjust by putting in some more shapes to balance out.
3. You can refine and divide the shapes into smaller curves using lots of crescent and narrow pointed shapes, which is so very typical in tribal design. Rather than bulky shapes, divide them in smaller curved portions as tribal symbols do not have bulky shapes. Create the illusion of continuous movements in your design rather than keeping them opaque and static.
4. By drawing repeatedly on consecutive shapes, you will be creating shapes larger than the previous. This is to make it more aesthetic and dramatically fluid.
5. Finally, using ink, paint or black marker, block in the shapes of the pencil sketch of the composition which you have created. Continue to add refinement when you fill in the shapes with opaque black by extending certain contours or blunting them where appropriate.