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How To Add a Tattoo to an Image Using Adobe Photoshop

In previous Photoshop tutorials, I’ve demonstrated the use of the basic Photoshop tools and options. Today I’m going to demonstrate a more advanced technique of adding a tattoo effect to someones body. I encourage you to follow along as there’s no better way to learn something than actually doing it!

Being a more advanced photoshop tutorial, I decided to start things off with a video screencast followed by the typical groovyPost step-by-step tutorial with screenshots. Let’s get started!


Before you begin with Photoshop, you will need an image for the tattoo and a photo you want to add the tattoo on.

Now, carefully remove the background from the tattoo image. Feel free to use the Magic Eraser Tool, Magic Wand Tool, Rectangular Marquee, Polygonal Lasso. Any of them can do the job.

tattoo image


With the background removed, add the tattoo image and press and hold Ctrl and click on the layer thumbnail to select all layer contents.

photoshop layer

After selecting right-click the image and select Free Transform. Then, while holding Alt+Shift, drag any of the corner anchor points and drag in or out to adjust the image accordingly.

place tattoo image on body

Now you can right-click again, and pick Warp to start slightly curving the image along the body curves, again using the anchor points to create an effect as if the tattoo is actually real.

photoshop warp

Press Enter when done. The tattoo should look slightly curved along the edges of the body, but if it’s looking too curved, don’t hesitate to press Ctrl+Z and give everything a second try.

tattoo on back


With the tattoo placed in the right spot, go to the Layers panel and pick the Multiply blending mode to ensure everything looks as real as possible.

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add realism using multiply

There — much better.

photoshop tattoo end effect



If you’ve seen someone with a new tattoo,  usually the skin around it is slightly red. That’s what we’re aiming to do with this effect. We’ll go to the layers Blending Options and check Outer Glow.

photoshop outer glow

Now, as an outer glow color we’ll pick the pure red (R:255 G:0 B:0) and set the outer glow settings as it follows:


  • Blend Mode – Multiply
  • Opacity – Somewhere from 15% to 30%
  • Noise – Somewhere from 15% to 20%


  • Technique – Softer
  • Spread – 9%
  • Size – 6%

photoshop outer glow structure and elements

The final result should look something like this.

use photoshop to add tattoo to photo

With your new awesome Photoshop “tattooing” skills go give yourself and your friends tattoos – no buzzing needles or pain required!

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