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Tattoo Smart is proud to introduce “Advancing Digital,” an interview series featuring profiles of professional tattoo artists. These artists set a high standard for what can be accomplished with digital design using different tools, techniques, and processes. In each installment of the series, we will highlight one artist’s transition and approach to digital design, the software and tools they use, and their digital and tattoo work. Our goal is is that their work inspires you to learn and grow in all aspects of tattooing, and shows you what can be accomplished at the highest levels of the craft.

Name: Travis Greenough
Name of your studio: Closed Casket Custom Tattoos
Website: http://www.closedcasket.ca/
Instagram: @travisgreenough
Tattoo booking email: info@closedcasket.ca

When did you start using digital tools to design tattoos?
I probably started using Photoshop around 2006. Not is as much of a capacity as now but I was experimenting with the early tablets they had at that time.

Why did you make the switch to a digital (or mostly digital) workflow?
I eventually switched to almost an exclusively digital workflow mostly to save time. It’s a lot easier to burn through a bunch of mistakes and iterations to get to a usable result.

What software platforms do you use most often?
Photoshop is the main platform that I use and all my digital processes end in Photoshop. In recent years I’ve been using more 3D. I’ve learn the basic functionality of Zbrush and Keyshot.

Describe your current design workflow, from concept to stencil creation. 
The most complex workflow I currently use is:

  • Concept sketch in photoshop.
  • Sculpt assets in Zbrush.
  • Load models into Keyshot and export several lighting render passes.
  • Import render passes to Photoshop.
  • Balance renders through masking and cropping.
  • Paint over in Photoshop and overlay any photo assets.
  • Line over full value image with a red line in Photoshop.
  • Convert red line to black and print for stencil.

What early problems with a digital workflow did you encounter and how did you solve them?

The initial difficulties were the human interface. Early usb tablets had no screen and the draw ratio from tablet to screen was different. Essentially you would draw a one inch line on the tablet in your lap and a three inch line ends up on the screen in front of you. It all changed once tablets that were screens became more accessible. I’d say the biggest turning point for me was when I purchased my Wacom Cintiq 24HD. Once I had that my workflow became almost entirely digital.

What questions do your friends and colleagues ask most often about your digital process?  
I find I don’t get asked a lot of questions about my digital process or if do it's usually fundamental functions in Photoshop. I feel like even if people are impressed they don’t really know what to ask. The few people who know about my 3D modeling ask me super vague questions like “How do you make that?”

Please share some other artists and/or tattooers whose digital designs inspire you.
Most of my digital design inspiration comes from outside of tattooing. Probably one of my favorite artists is Feng Zhu, he’s a 2D artist mainly using Photoshop. In the same realm would be Craig Mullins, no one makes digital look as natural as him. There are also a few 3D guys I’ve been keeping an eye on, Vitaly Bulgarov, and Rafael Grassetti.

What new software or digital tools are you interested in learning?
Currently I’ve been investing a lot of time into zbrush and learning how to create a faster workflow. It is such a powerful and vast program, really easy to get lost in it. I think 3D and different 3D rendering platforms is the direction I’m heading.

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