Originally posted this tutorial to my tumblr | if you have any questions, you can ask on our fb page: Cool By Proxy Productions , or shoot us an email!
This is the method I used for my Pool Party Maya Tattoos & Rhys' Neck tattoo at Dragon Con 2015 (I've also used it again for Maya's hip tattoo at PAX East 2016, and Scarlett & Janey's assorted tattoos). A lot of people were asking about them so I figured I'd make a little tutorial- it's a pretty easy method, it's just time consuming (as with all Siren tattoo methods). It's really a matter of what you want to spend your time on- messy body paint, or carefully cutting out and applying temporary tattoos!
- Temporary tattoo paper (I used the Bundle Monster brand, which is available on Amazon.you will need 2 packs for a full siren -chest/arm/back/hip/leg- costs ~$20 for one)
- An inkjet printer (with lots of ink in the color that you need)
- Scissors (make sure they're sharp!)/an exacto knife (some kind of sharp cutting implement)
- Access to a design program (or someone who does), photoshop/illustrator/etc
- (Optional) a siren tattoo stencil pdf (i used the one from "a girl from mars" whose site is sadly no longer active, Siryn also offers Maya's tattoos, as well as the Lilith, Steele & Jack's though. )
- A washcloth & access to a bathroom/water and a mirror (the tattoo paper needs to be SOPPING wet so make sure you put down towels etc on your floor)
PREPARE THE TATTOOS:
Open your stencil file in photoshop and fill in the open space with blue (or whatever color your tattoo is going to be- I've also used this method for other characters with tattoos like Rhys, Janey & Scarlett).
Also be sure to mirror the image so it looks correct when applied (though with siren tattoos if you forget, nobody's going to notice)
If you aren't using a stencil, then create your image in your design program of choice. Make sure you make the lines very clean! Add any details you'd like your tattoo to have (like cel-shading, etc).
If your tattoo is large (like siren tattoos), transfer each part of your tattoo to 8.5 x 11" files. Make sure you remember/mark where the tattoos meet up and which bit goes where!
I recommend printing a test sheet on normal paper to make sure your color settings are correct (the tattoo paper should come with its own directions per printer settings so just follow those for setting up your printer) and also your sizing is right. If you're using a stencil file, you may need to adjust the size of the tattoo to fit your arm better (since your arm may be larger or smaller than the person who designed the original).
PRINT YOUR TATTOOS & APPLY THE TATTOO PART PER THE INSTRUCTIONS ON YOUR PAPER
The tattoo paper will come with instructions for printing and applying the temporary tattoo parts to the paper. Follow them!
CUT OUT YOUR TATTOOS **THIS IS THE MOST CRITICAL PART, DO NOT SKIMP ON THIS PART**
It's also the most annoying/time consuming part! Take your time and be sure to carefully cut away ALL of the white paper.
With this method it's especially important that you cut out ALL the white sections, not just the outline.
Cutting away all the white will allow the tattoo to adhere to your skin better and prevent the edges from peeling.
It also makes the difference between making your tattoo look real(ish) versus fake!
DO NOT BE LAZY HERE, YOU WILL REGRET IT!
For the especially complicated bits, you might want to wait to cut out everything until right before you apply the tattoo! I put all the bits in folders inside of separate zip-lock bags to keep track of what went with what! there will be lots of little bits! I also printed a small reference image of the tattoo all together so I could remember what went where.
Cutting away *all* the white parts *will* make part of the tattoo fragile/prone to ripping, so go very slowly and carefully. If you have a sharp exacto knife & a cutting surface, it's very useful here. You can manage with scissors, but they can be frustrating!
APPLY YOUR TATTOOS!
The tattoo paper needs to be pretty wet to adhere correctly, so you will want to apply this in the bathroom. Get a washcloth and soak it in water for a few minutes (temperature doesn't seem to matter, but if your tattoo paper has specific instructions be sure to follow them). You will want to have access to a mirror so you can see what you're doing (or have a friend help you instead). Make sure your skin is dry and clean before you apply your tattoos- as with body paint, I generally do this step before putting on my costume (so for a full siren body tattoo, you may as well start naked/in your underwear since anything you're wearing is going to get wet). If you have a fair amount of body hair, you may also want to remove that - the tattoos can leave a sticky residue on your hair and be painful to remove. Having hairless skin also makes them look & adhere better (but it is ofc up to you).
Follow the directions on the tattoo paper to apply your tattoos. Generally you will carefully remove the clear plastic adhesive layer and then gently place the tattoo to the place where you want your tattoo. It will stick to you immediately, so you don't have much leeway in moving it around- be sure that's where you want it when you place it. The white side of the tattoo should be facing up now.
Place the soaked washcloth on top of the tattoo and make sure it gets completely soaked through. You'll know the tattoo is applied correctly because the water paper should start to peel on its own. Repeat for all the tattoos.
Let your tattoos air dry for a few minutes then apply a colorless setting powder lightly with a brush. They should be okay by themselves, but I like to make doubly sure. If you need to apply additional makeup effects (cel shading, etc), do so here. Once the setting powder is dry (and you've applied other makeup), I also like to spritz them with a sealing spray (I like Ben Nye Final Seal).
My application for a full body (chest, arm, back, hip, leg) took about an hour total to do. It lasted three days doing various cosplay activities as well as swimming in chlorinated water! If you're doing multiple days of the same costume at a con, I'd still bring a second set or at least some extra makeup as backup just to be sure though (higher wear areas like your hands tend to rub off quicker than other areas, so you may need to re-touch them with some makeup)
Removal is a little annoying- you can't remove these easily with soap & water (you'll scrub your skin raw). If you applied the tattoos well, they shouldn't really peel, though obviously you can try to peel them off if you want to. I found it best to use baby oil to remove them.