Old School Flash Tattoo Art in Procreate

black and red old school rose illustration with leaves on beige background

How to Create Old School Flash Tattoo Art in Procreate

Before we begin this Procreate tutorial let me go over some of the characteristics of old school flash tattoo art because to create your own you have to have an idea of what makes it what it is.

Old school tattooers created flash tattoo art because they understood that tattoos will age just as we do so with that in mind they used simplicity, thick, black lines, black shading, and bold colors so their work would still be recognizable over time.

So in this tutorial, I’ll show you how to create a rose but there won’t be any ink, needles, or tattoo machines. You’ll just need your iPad, Procreate, and an Apple pencil (or stylus). It’ll have the charm of flash tattoo art, but none of that raw pain!

If you need a rose template I’ve created one for you. Just download and unzip it to access the template.

Let’s Create an Old School Flash Tattoo Rose!

You’ll need a few colors for this tutorial and here are the ones I used:

  • Black
  • White
  • Red #cb3838
  • Green #477126
  • Beige #ecddc8

TIP: To get the blackest black double tap the color wheel where you think it’s the blackest and Procreate will find it for you. If you double tap the color wheel where you think is the whitest Procreate will find that for you too!

First, set up your canvas. Open Procreate and create a new document by tapping the + at the top right corner, then tap the other + below it to create a custom canvas.

I’ll be using a 10×10 inch canvas at 300 dpi but you can use any size you like.

+ circled to create new canvas

Flash Tattoo Art Step One: Sketch in the Basic Shapes

The first step to creating your rose is to lay down a very light sketch using basic shapes. Use a brush like the 6B pencil or reduce the opacity as you sketch.

Sketching in the basic shapes of the rose:

  • Sketch two slight ovals so it resembles a donut. It should be a wee taller than it is wide.
    • the inner oval will be the center of your rose.
    • the outer oval is how far your petals will extend out from the center
  • Next, divide the donut into 5 sections using 5 lines. Each line will become the center of a petal later on.
  • Sketch a slightly slanted line through the center of your inner oval from the lower left to the upper right.
  • Sketch the letter ‘y’ on top of that slanted line. These will become folded petals.

Your sketch should look something like this:

light rough sketch with basic shapes for a rose

Flash Tattoo Art Step Two: Create the Outer Petals

Sketch in round petals using the 5 lines as the center of each petal for reference. Overlap each petal on one side except for the bottom petal which should sit on top on both sides.

petals sketched out from basic shapes

Add a little fold on one of the petals for a little visual interest.

Sketch of a small fold in petal

Add little points or curves along the edge at the center of each petal… remember to keep it simple.

Lightly refine the shapes of each petal to your liking and remember, this is a rough sketch so you don’t need to make the lines perfect.

rose petals refined on rough sketch

Flash Tattoo Art Step Three: Create the Center of the Rose

Under each of the 3 lines inside of the oval we’ll add a petal that has been folded over.

  • To do this imagine that you’re drawing a very wide and rounded letter ‘w’, then refine the line above it.
  • At the very top of your oval draw a small circle with a crescent moon inside of it.
  • Then add a curved line below it that drops down to the petal below it.
  • Make the lines of your oval center a bit darker.

Are you with me so far? 🙂 Good, because we just finished the rough sketch for the rose and it’s time to focus on the leaves!

center of rose sketched out with folded petals

Flash Tattoo Art Step Four: Draw the Leaves

Draw each leaf on each side of your rose using the veins as the center. The leaves are basically rounded triangles for the most part.

Add a small leaf next to them on each side. You can add a center vein to those as well if you’d like but it’s not necessary. I’m going to keep my rose pretty simple and won’t be adding more veins to the leaves.


I do want to add a little detail to the edge of the first two leaves though so I’m adding a little big of zig zag texture to it.

lines of rough sketch more refined

You just completed a nice and refined rough sketch!

Flash Tattoo Art Step Four: Draw the Rose Using Thick Lines

Now it’s time to trace your sketch and create a rose with nice thick lines.

Tap the rough sketch’s layer panel and reduce the opacity so it’s light enough to trace if you need to. It should be light enough so you can see what you’re doing.

  • Add a layer above it by tapping the + in your layer panel and name this layer ‘outline’.
  • Select a brush with solid uniform lines like a monobrush and trace your rough sketch.
  • Lines should be thick like you would see in an old school tattoo.
  • Once your lines are drawn in you can delete the layer with the rough sketch as well as the template layer.
thick black lines used to draw rose and petals

Flash Tattoo Art Step Five: Add Color to the Outer Petals

Tap your ‘outline’ layer and an options menu will pop up to the left. Tap ‘Reference’ to turn it on, then lock your layer. This is going to allow you to color each section without going outside the lines in a layer below the reference layer.

For each outer petal, do the following:

  • Create a new layer below the ‘outline’ layer.
  • Tap the color box at the top right and select beige.
  • Drag and drop it into the bottom petal.
  • Make sure you are in the layer you just created when you do this step.

When you’re done, open up your layers panel and right-swipe each of those petal layers with two fingers to turn on the Alpha Lock.

You can also turn the alpha lock on and off by tapping the layer and tapping ‘alpha lock’ in the side panel.


Alpha lock will allow you to add to existing pixels on that layer and ignores the blank space.

  • Select red from your color palette.
  • Then select the wash brush and set the size to around 17.
  • Start with the bottom petal layer and in a circular motion brush in red from the center of the rose.
  • Only add red to about 2/3rd of the petal.
  • Select the next petal layer and repeat.

Flash Tattoo Art Step Six: Add Black to the Outer Petals

Now repeat what we just did for each petal except this time use black and only color in about 1/3rd of the petal from the center. Use the same layers you just colored in red.

Merge the petal layers together by pinching them together with your fingers or tap the layers and select merge.

Leaves added to sketch

Flash Tattoo Art Step Seven: Add Color & Black to Center of Rose

Create a new layer for each section below your ‘outline’ layer and fill each section with light beige.

  • Then alpha lock each layer.
  • In each layer, brush in red about 2/3rd of the way. Then brush in black about 1/3rd of the way.
  • Merge all petal layers together.
  • It should now look like this:

Flash Tattoo Art Step Eight: Add Color & Black to the Leaves

Color is added to the leaves in the same manner.

  • You’ll create a new layer for each leaf section below your ‘outline’ layer and fill with beige.
  • Each of those layers are then alpha locked.
  • Working one layer at a time, brush in green 2/3rd of the way.
  • Then brush in black 1/3rd of the way.
  • It should now look like this:

Flash Tattoo Art Step Nine: Add a Background Color

At this point you can merge all the layers. Remember to unlock the ‘outline’ layer first.

If you want to add in a background color just tap the background layer and select beige. It will automatically fill the layer for you.

That’s it!

black and red rose flash tattoo art

I hope this Procreate tutorial was useful and fun! If any part of this wasn’t clear for you check out the video tutorial for more clarity.

Use this Procreate tutorial to create other tattoo flash art and run with it! Keep things simple and bold, but most importantly have fun with it.

….. VIDEO …..

Next, learn how to create a paper cut out effect using Procreate.

. . .

How to create an old school tattoo rose illustration in Procreate with a drawing of a red rose
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