There are 3 fundamental tattooing techniques that must be mastered by every tattoo artist.
A tattoo artist who performs these tattooing techniques with a high degree of skill makes a permanent tattoo something that the tattoo owner can be proud of. Each technique requires a thorough understanding of the tools and supplies used by a tattoo artist.
Let’s get started…
Tattooing Technique #1 – Creating a Tattoo Stencil
Tattoo stencils are used to apply the basic lines of the tattoo design to the skin before using a tattoo gun to apply the tattoo. Even the most experienced tattooists begin with a stencil rather than attempting to apply a freehand design. Since the skin is stretched by the tattooist while the tattoo is applied, working without a stencil could result in a distorted finished tattoo.
Many tattoo artists use carbon paper to copy a tattoo design onto another piece of paper. The carbon paper is placed under the piece of paper with the tattoo design, inky side down. A piece of clean paper is then placed under the carbon paper.
All 3 layers should be secured with staples or paper clips before tracing the design with ballpoint pen.
One of the most important tattooing techniques related to creating a stencil with carbon paper is to remember that the image of the design that is laid against the skin will be reversed.
Once the design is traced over, it will appear correctly on the skin when the stencil is removed. Instead of using carbon paper, some tattoo artists use an artist’s light table to create a stencil. A stencil created with a light table will face in the right direction. The original drawing is laid face down on the light table and the design shows through and can be traced directly onto another piece of paper.
Tattooing Technique #2 – Applying the Tattoo Stencil
Once a stencil has been created, it can be applied to the skin of the client.
Before the stencil is applied, the skin must be shaved smooth and cleaned with antiseptic. A disposable razor should be used and then discarded, since it could transfer germs or minute amounts of blood to other clients. One of the most common tattooing techniques for applying a stencil is to use roll-on deodorant to transfer the design. The deodorant is applied to the skin, then the stencil is positioned on the deodorant and pressure is applied all over the design. When the paper stencil is peeled away, the tattoo design will have transferred onto the skin.
If the position of the tattoo is not correct, the stencil can be removed from the skin with alcohol and applied again.
Like the razor, the roll-on deodorant should only come into contact with the skin of a single client. Some tattoo artists buy small travel-size deodorant and dispose of it after one use. Another option is to use a clean tongue depressor to transfer deodorant from the roll-on applicator to the skin, and then dispose of the tongue depressor.
Tattooing Technique #3 – Outlining the Tattoo
Once the tattoo design has been stenciled onto the skin and both client and tattooist agree on the placement, it’s time to begin the tattoo outline. Being able to create a tattoo outline is one of the most basic tattooing techniques. The majority of tattoo designs begin with an outline.
Starting from the bottom of the design is the best approach, to avoid either smearing the freshly applied ink or wiping off parts of the stencil.
In order to vary the effect of the outline, different size needles can be used to produce lines with different thicknesses. While an expert tattoo artist has an intuitive feeling for which lines should be thick and which thin, a beginner tattooist may want to experiment with line thicknesses on a paper copy of the tattoo design before picking up the tattoo gun.
When applying ink to a tattoo outline, the client’s skin should be stretched taut by the tattoo artist so that the needles will move smoothly across the skin. When the tattoo needles are dipped into ink, enough ink should be loaded to allow a continuous line to be drawn. While the outline is being applied, excess ink and blood are frequently wiped away by the tattooist. After taking a break from outlining to reapply ink to the needles, lighter pressure should be used when continuing the line to avoid dropping a blob of ink or creating visible joins.
The three tattooing techniques described here are fundamental to the art of tattooing.
They should be practiced again and again by a novice tattooist until they become second nature. Once the fundamental techniques have been mastered, a tattooist can focus on developing a unique personal style and becoming a true tattoo artist.