Follow this step by step Adobe Illustrator tutorial to create a vector illustration inspired by the classic tattoo art of Sailor Jerry. Our dagger and heart design will use clean black linework and perfectly formed shapes combined with vector textures to add an element of shading and appreciate the style of traditional tattoo art.

Dagger through heart vector tattoo illustration

A dagger through the heart is a classic tattoo symbol with both religious meanings and associations with betrayal or hurt through love. Amongst other designs this style of tattoo was popular with sailors and is an icon of prominent tattooist Sailor Jerry. The illustration we’ll be creating in this tutorial takes inspiration from these classic tattoo styles but has a much more precise appearance thanks to Illustrators accurate vector tools.

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  1. Not too bad at all. I like the line work. :)

    There are two things I would have done differently though:

    1) Variable line weights, to give it more of a “hand-drawn” feel.
    2) Masked out the textures. Deleting stuff just leads to regret when you need to re-position something after the paths are gone.

  2. AWESOME – fantastic TuT – Thank you :-)
    I must try this… never used Illustrator before :-D
    Glad I found you
    Ike x

  3. Is that cool or what. Even I and I have no Idea how to use this tool, I understood your explanation and you made it look so simple. I already strated working on it and it looks promecing.

  4. Love it! Great tutorial and very well explained. The finished article is very Sailor Jerry-esque and I love the vectorised textures. I need to add tutorials to my blog so I’m definitely taking notes!

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