When it comes to being a great artist in the field, you can’t say enough about the importance of acquiring the fundamental tattooing techniques.
Whether you are trying to create and transfer the perfect stencil or you want to master the ability to make designs appear to glow, it’s all about finding the right tattooing techniques and then practicing them until they’re perfect.
Here are four basic techniques that will give you a start on the path to becoming a truly skilled tattoo artist.
#1. Transferring a Design
Each artist has his or her own preferred tattooing techniques, and each one can tell you why you should do something a certain way. Of course, another artist will tell you just as adamantly why you should use a completely different technique to do the same exact thing!
It’s hard to find total agreement on any one topic in the industry.
This rule holds true, even for the seemingly simple act of transferring a design from paper to the skin through the means of a stencil. There are several tattooing techniques that can be used, but probably the most popular involves the use of an unexpected agent: deodorant. To be more specific, many artists recommend the use of Speed Stick deodorant to help the lines of a stencil stick to the client’s skin.
Here is how to do it…
To do this properly, make sure you have drawn a mirror image of the design onto your tracing paper. Next, apply a light coating of Speed Stick to the skin. To avoid potential contamination, it is best to do this with a tongue depressor rather than by placing the product directly to the skin. Now, press the tracing paper, image side down, against the skin. It will stick slightly due to the deodorant. Rub the entire surface of the paper firmly, and when you gently pull it from the skin, you will see that the design is left behind and is facing the right direction.
#2. Creating a Bridge
Some tattooing techniques are all about the fundamentals, and that is definitely true when it comes to creating “the bridge.” This term refers to the way in which a tattoo artist holds his or her hand when pressing the needles to the client’s skin.
While holding the needle tube of the tattoo machine in the same way you would hold a pencil, you will find that the rest of the hand-held mechanism is over your hand. The device is top-heavy because of its design, and it takes skill and practice to master holding it for long periods of time while maintaining enough control to create an attractive design.
In order to add as much stability to the process as possible, you want to create a bridge with your hand. That means to place the heel of your hand on the client’s skin while still holding the needle tube like a pencil. This bridge helps to stabilize your hand and also serves as a pivot point while you work. It allows you to create much smoother lines, as well as to tattoo for longer periods of time.
#3. Working in Order
One of the biggest time wasters that a new tattoo artist can face is having to redo a stencil. This can happen because the original placement wasn’t correct, because it didn’t transfer fully, or-perhaps most frustratingly-because the artist himself has smeared or rubbed the transfer off of the skin. There are a few tattooing techniques that can remedy these situations.
In the case of smearing and rubbing, a common approach is to start outlining at one corner and work your way up and across to the other.
Generally speaking, it works best to start in the lower right-hand corner. Picture in your mind how your hand will be resting on the client’s skin, and you can see how working from top to bottom and right to left will keep that hand from dragging over parts of the design that haven’t yet been lined. Of course, if you are left-handed, it would make more sense to start at the bottom left corner of the design.
It’s impossible to always avoid smearing or rubbing a transferred design, but using this particular tattooing technique can definitely lessen the problem. Staying aware of what you’re doing will also help; if you’re thinking ahead, you’ll be able to avoid some complications. Remember that you’ll likely have to go back in and fill in the occasional line, and there’s no shame in that.
#4. Creating Smooth, Solid Lines
A major pitfall for the newbie tattoo artist is the inability to avoid knots, blowouts, and other signs that too much ink was quickly put into one spot. When this happens, the ink has nowhere to go and ends up spreading out under the skin, making a permanent mark that can ruin the overall design.
There are a few tattoo techniques you can employ in order to minimize or avoid creating these unsightly mistakes. First of all, make sure that your ink reservoir is full before you put the needle to the skin. This will allow you to run a line longer, without having to stop partway through and then pick back up, increasing your chance for a blowout or knot.
If you do need to stop partway through a line and then start again, try lightly lifting your needle toward the end of the first pass and then putting it back down lightly when tracing back over the spot and starting again. This gives the opportunity for the line to be as dark as the others but without the worry of putting down too much ink in one pass.
Another safeguarding tattooing technique is to make sure that the needle is already running before you press it to the skin, and to already have your hand starting the forward motion, too. This can help keep the needles from snagging or hanging up, which is another reason for knots and blowouts.
There is no shortage of hints, tattoo tips, and tattoo techniques that tattoo artists use to perfect their skills and hone their craft. Each professional you come across will likely have his or her own suggestions for how to make the process better, whether they’re offering advice on how to get sharper corners or thoughts on the best way to make your own needles.