This guy from Switzerland wanted to cover a biomechanical, done 20 years earlier, that went from the chest half way down his arm. The intention was to cover the old tattoo and continue down to the wrist with a new biomechanical.
Cover-ups are not the type of work I enjoy the most but having to work on a biomechanical like this, as bad as it was, seemed easier than trying to cover some dark and contorted monstrosity, and since I think I’m pretty good with biomechanicals I took on the challenge.

When it comes to large cover-ups I always intervene freehand drawing the design directly on the client’s skin with markers. This is the easiest way to evaluate and exploit the contrast of the old tattoo in favour of the new design and it is roughly the same technique I use for all my biomechanicals, even when cover-ups are not involved.
INCUBO BIOMECCANICO (fh cover-up) 1 sketch a
The first attempt, starting from the chest, included a skull that exploited that sort of deformed face already present in the old tattoo, but the skull didn’t convince him so he asked me if we could try something different. After approximately ten minutes of consultation and research we decided to try with a heart instead. Personally I would have made it larger and slightly more mechanical but this would have probably ended up making the area too heavy. Our first goal was to hide the old tattoo and considering that the heart is about the size of a fist it was and is realistic enough.
So, after an hour experimenting with markers, we decided to begin to lay out the contrasts of this first section.

The second session turned out to be more challenging than expected. It took me approx. 3 hours to find a design that could decently hide the clutter of lines at the top and back of the shoulder and another 4:30 hours to draw the lines and contrasts.
If the second session seemed challenging the third one put us both to the test. After choosing the various mechanical elements to include in the piece I began to draw on skin, I got carried away and alternated between the area to be covered and the lower part of the arm and in 5 hours I had drawn the entire limb. We both liked the result and at that point we obviously couldn’t afford to outline just one part of the design, this would have meant having to redraw the entire thing in the next sitting. So, gritting his teeth and taking some breaks, we spent the following 4 hours doing the outlines. An exhausting day that began at 10 a.m. and ended around midnight.
We were both exhausted but satisfied. The scaffolding, so to speak, was made and from there on we/I only had to face the finishing process.

INCUBO BIOMECCANICO (fh cover-up) 3In my opinion biomechanicals are the most suitable designs for cover-ups, but cover-ups are still hard work. The limitations are many: finding the appropriate design, making the most of what is already present, finding a way around the clutter of lines that form between the old and the new tattoo without getting confused etc., so having completed the basic design was a huge relief.

The following sessions were dedicated to the colouring process obtaining unhoped-for results each time, although my optimism was ridiculed session after session. Each time I thought I would be able to complete way more than planned. Looking at the picture of the tattoo on the computer screen often makes you lose sight of its true size and if that wasn’t enough, to cover the old tattoo in the best possible way I had to intervene several times over areas that had already been coloured. But we were slowly reaching the light at the end of the tunnel 😀

Although I didn’t have to face a cover-up in this lower section, I had added many details that demanded time.
The old tattoo was full of lines and small details, this forced me to create a detailed design also for the cover-up and to maintain consistency I couldn’t help but add a fair amount of details on the forearm too.
Having to study contrasts and lights each time was demanding but very fulfilling. The end result was always beyond expectations.

INCUBO BIOMECCANICO (fh cover-up) 8When it became clear that two or three sessions were missing for the work to be completed I decided to make some lines thicker and re-trace some others. This is something I usually leave to the end but in this case I chose to do it before the work was finished to prevent the freshly made black making the other colours appear almost washed out, being the black more intense compared to the rest of the piece.
Once finished I wanted the tattoo to appear soft, complete, with the right amount of contrast, both for my photographs and for the client’s satisfaction so that he could immediately look at his arm with satisfaction without having to wait a few weeks.

After sixteen months the work was finally finished. With due proportion it is by far the work that has taken me the longest so far. Credit goes to this guy for his perseverance and for the way he has managed to undergo each session without complaining, in fact, we often got to enjoy long chats and have some good laughs. It is a pleasure dealing with people who have full control over their pain and I must say that apart from a few exceptions I consider myself very lucky if I think about the self-control and human qualities of my clients.
Perhaps, if we had spent less time talking and fooling around we would have been able to work a few more hours during each session reducing the overall completion time. During appointments, after a couple of hours chatting, it wasn’t uncommon for us to look at the clock realizing that maybe I should get down to work. I’m lucky to have clients who are also intelligent and easy to get along with, with whom it’s nice to talk, laugh and joke. This human side is definitely one of the things I like about my job.

I’m a little sorry that this work has come to an end, both for the challenge it has been and satisfaction it has given, and after so many months I have to admit that I will miss our chats. If it weren’t for the distance that separates us he would probably be one of those people with whom I would like to spend time outside work.

Look at the images of the working process below.
Click on images to enlarge then navigate using arrow keys or swipe on mobile.

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