How To Do Shading Tattoo?
Download Article Download Article Good shading can make a huge difference in the quality of the tattoo. It can help cover up mistakes or add a fresh three-dimensional look. Many people take years to perfect their shading ability, so even if you already know how to tattoo , don’t expect to learn master-level shading in a few days. However, if you are interested in an overview of how shading is done and the techniques used to accomplish the task…you’ve come to the right place!
- 1 Practice with paint or a pencil. Shading is an artistic endeavor – no instructions will be able to duplicate the confidence you’ll gain by trying to shade yourself. Shading a tattoo is not so much different from shading a still life. Try to become comfortable shading off body, even if you are already an accomplished artist.
- Practice with pressure. Pressing hard versus pressing lightly can have dramatically different effects, so you should get a feel for this ahead of time.
- Also, practice using different strokes to prepare yourself for tattooing different kinds of artwork.
- 2 Tattoo a pork belly for a more realistic feel. Pigs make good human analogues and you can buy a pork belly at a local grocery store or even online. This way you can get a feel for how much pressure to use and what type of strokes to use without worrying about permanently marking a human’s skin just yet. Advertisement
- 3 Choose an appropriate tattoo machine and needle size. Different shader needles result in different effects. For instance, bigger shader needles create a softer shade than smaller needles, which concentrate the color more. Ensure that the needle is protruding no more than 1 mm (0. 039 in) for the purposes of shading. 
- 4 Select the right speed on your tattoo machine to create the effect you’re going for. A slower speed helps create a softer shade that you can build upon. Using a faster speed creates darker shading. Adjust the speed as needed depending on what type of look and depth the customer wants.
- 5 Prepare the area. Clean the entire area with soap and water, especially if you have already done the lining. Make sure that you have gotten rid of any stencil marks, sticky residue, or grease that will get in the way of your shading process.
- 1 Design the tattoo according to the customer’s wishes. Always discuss with your customer how they want their tattoo to appear. Even if they say they trust you, it’s always good business to keep them in the loop on the decision-making process.
- 2 Factor in light and shadow. You need to consider that light and shadow will play into each individual tattoo if you want to successfully shade. Shading a tattoo is as much about art as it is about technique. Ask your customer to describe the hypothetical lighting of the tattoo.
- Your hypothetical light source should always be the same throughout the course of your shading. You don’t want the shadow to be incongruous. If the top part of an arm is lit up, then the bottom part should be darker.
- If you’re using colors, try to shade with complementary colors. Grab a color wheel and find a complementary color to the one you used for lining. This will make the tattoo really pop.
- 3 Draw a sketch for the customer. The customer will want to have an idea of what the tattoo is going to look like and it will also help you figure out exactly how to draw it. Try a few practice sketches to get it right.
- 1 Fire up your tattoo machine. Ensure that you are using a machine that is appropriate to the tattoo and made for shading. Use a needle type and size that will fit the work that you are doing. Adjust the speed on the power supply as well. Many tattoo artists recommend a lower speed for shading than normal lining.
- 2 Leave time between lining and shading. You don’t want to go straight from your line work to shading. Although it is possible to wait 15 minutes or so for the tattoo to dry, most artists prefer to do the shading in a separate session than the lining. Not only will this make your job as the tattoo artist easier, but it will also give the customer a chance to think over how they want their shading done. 
- 3 Use Vaseline throughout the process. Vaseline helps protect and lubricate the skin, so apply it to the customer’s skim throughout the tattoo session as many times as you need to.
- 4 Work in a circular motion. Start in the center of the area you plan to shade then move outward in a circular motion. Remember that the darker areas are going to require more pressure than the lighter areas. This takes a lot of feel, so you’ll have to practice.
- Using a circular motion is gentler on the skin than going back and forth.
- 5 Wipe off excess ink as you go. If there is any unnecessary ink on the surface of the skin as you are tattooing, take it off. You need to be able to examine your work. You may notice some inconsistencies in your work, in which case you need to go back in and fix it up. Alter the shading to address any inconsistencies in that specific tattoo.
- Remove any remaining ink when you’re finished with the tattoo as well.
- 6 Change the depth of the shade by adjusting the weight of your technique. Essentially, your brushwork should be heavy to light. You want to add more pressure to produce the darker areas and reduce pressure as you move to a lighter area. You don’t want the gradients to look obvious, so try to make this transition very smooth. 
- 7 Dilute the ink as needed. This helps to create natural-looking gradients. Dip your needle in distilled water to dilute the black pigment into a gray pigment. This is helpful because you don’t have to change needles as you move through the tattoo. 
- As you apply the ink, tilt the needle in a circular manner to blend the tones of the tattoo effectively. This will apply a different amount of ink and contribute to the shading.
- 8 Change the ink capacity in the needle mouth when necessary. This is a slightly more time-consuming method. However, it helps if you aren’t comfortable with your ability to produce a gradient simply by managing the pressure you apply with the needle. If that is the case then changing the ink capacity is another option.
- 9 Clean the needles as you go. You want to make sure that the darker ink is completely gone from the needle before you move onto shading lighter areas. Neglecting to clean your needles could seriously mess up your shading.
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- 1 What tattoo needle is best for shading?
- 2 How does shading in tattoos work?
- 3 What hurts more linework or shading?
- 4 What depth should a tattoo needle be set at?
- 5 How far should the needle stick out when tattooing?
What tattoo needle is best for shading?
Magnum Needles – Magnum needles are the most popular for shading. This style of needle groupings holds the most ink. Therefore, they easily transfer and pack large amounts of color into the skin. One pass can distribute more ink across the skin to quickly cover large sections. There are three different variations of magnum needles that deliver different results for each tattoo:
- Weaved : These needles are soldered like flat magnums but have a second row of alternating pins on the top, similar to how you might stack a pile of wooden logs. Weaved magnums are packed loosely, so there is a small amount of space between the needles. This spacing holds more ink and allows artists to cover more skin in one pass. Weaved magnum needles always come in an odd-numbered grouping and are labeled with M1.
- Stacked : This style of magnum needles has the same shaping and grouping as weaved, except the pins are attached much closer together. This needle is ideal for more intricate shading and adding color to smaller areas. Like the weaved version, they’re manufactured in an odd number grouping, but they’re labeled M2 instead. So, a 9M2 would be a nine stacked magnum needle configuration.
- Round or curved : Round magnum needles are also called curved magnum needles. The pins are lined up in an arch, so the tips of the needles reach farther out at the center. They were developed with the concept of the arch conforming better to the skin, creating a consistent line and better ink disbursement. This configuration causes less damage to the skin and can be used to create softer shading.
- You can pack color on faster and cause less damage to the skin;
- Covering more skin with fewer passes also makes the tattoo less painful for the client;
- Therefore a 9M1 needle would be a weaved nine magnum grouping;
Round magnums are labeled with the number of needles followed by RM. Therefore, a 9RM would be a nine round magnum needle.
Electrum Supply offers three distinct styles of bugpin needles:
- Bugpin curved magnum
- Bugpin magnum
- Bugpin round liners super tight
Each of the three bugpin options provides the same design and techniques offered by their non-bugpin equivalents with the benefit of greater details. By using the smaller needles, bugpin needles help create thinner lines and strokes, allowing for a more precise and controlled stroke for smoother shading. Electrum Supply bugpin needles provide a slower and steady ink flow to compensate for the attention to detail.
How does shading in tattoos work?
Tattoo shading is vital to achieving a standout design full of textural complexity and beauty. Tattooists spend years perfecting their shading techniques and those who’ve conquered their art are in hot demand. The pain level It’s a common question to ask, ‘what hurts most about getting a tattoo done?’ There are mixed reports depending on who you ask, the outlining or the shading.
Shading isnt always necessary so you might be skipping this step for your piece, but general consensues is if you’re up the shading section you’ve made it through the worst of it! If you are really worried, your artist can supply numbing cream to help with the pain if required and you can always ask your artist to take a break for a few minutes if you feel that you need it and the discomfort is building up too much.
Learing to shade a tattoo is a major part of an artists craft, and it takes years of dedication and hours of practice and master this skill. Videos or online tutorials are not enough, so if your artist has a “degree in YouTube Tatto Tutorials” it’s time to run. Here are 9 ways how you can tell a master shader from an amateur:
- A master tattooist will likely ink the line work for your chosen design during your first session then book you for a separate shading session. This is because allowing the ink to dry completely stops the dark outline from leeching into the rest of the colours and creating a muddy looking confusion. Also, the whole tattoo area should be cleaned with soapy water to remove any excess ink stencil marks or sticky residue.
- Tattoo studio artists who know what they’re doing will use different tattoo guns for inking and shading – the latter is generally a 10-coil (for smaller areas) or 12-coil machine with a higher speed to get a smoother result. By contrast, shader bars are great for large format tattoos because they feature needles lined up in a flat row that create solid transitions and can cover more space during a single pass.
- When adding shade to a black and white design, the artist can either dip the needle in water to dilute the black pigment and create different greys or use specific full-strength grey inks. Tilting the needle and applying in a circular motion will blend the different tones in seamlessly, while shallower pressure creates the illusion of a fading gradient. This creates a more detailed shading effect.
- An expert will test the colour of the ink against your skin to make sure the shading suits your complexion. There’s nothing worse than having a stunning body art made to look hideous because its colours aren’t complementary to the wearer’s natural skin colour.
- Experienced tattoo artists decide on shading colours first. Because dark inks muddy lighter inks, colour shading needs to be completed in a particular order – for example, whites, yellows, pale greens go first followed by medium colours like reds and darker greens then finally dark purples and blues.
- Good shaders always clean everything carefully between each colour to ensure the inks don’t mix. This includes needles, tubes and tips (and it makes for better hygiene too, of course!).
- Consistent light is another marker of someone who knows their medium. If the light source changes throughout the shading process, it’s too easy to make a mistake with the gradient leaving you with a less than stellar ink.
- Master tattoo artists know their colour theory. You want your tattooist to be a bonafide artist whose medium just happens to be skin. Having a handle on complementary and contrasting colours makes shading less flat and more realistic, giving you a 3D effect that really pops!
- If your tattooist suggests brush shading, they’re at the top of their game. A hard technique to master, brush shading takes a lot of practice but its’ worth it – the effects are extraordinary. The technique uses a sweeping wrist movement with a low power machine – and it’s the envy of all tattooists who aspire to be the best at what they do.
Great shading is an acquired skill. It can make or break the look of your tattoo, so it’s important to know how it works. If you want a tattoo shop that knows its stuff, get in touch ..
What speed do you use for shading a tattoo?
Step 3 – Reset the speed of the tattoo machine for shading. Shading requires a slighty slower speed than line work. Adjust the speed by eye and ear. The hum or buzz should be a deeper sound than that made by a machine set for lining.
How many needles are used for shading?
NEEDLE TYPES AND USES – What types of needles are used for different tattooing techniques? Finding out what needle configurations work best for your style, is a matter of trial and error. There are a few basic guidelines.
|Needle type||Optimal number of needles||Key features|
|Magnum||Small: 5 Medium: 7-9 Large: 11-17||Two rows of needles spread out. For light shading and portraits use 7-11 needles. Curved magnums have a slight arc to protect the skin.|
|Tights||7-9 needles||These are grouped in a circle or a tight cluster. Used to create bold outlines.|
|Flats||7-11 needles||They are arranged in a straight row. Best used for whips, blending and shading.|
|Round shaders||Small: 1-5 Large: 7-21||Can be used for large sessions as it creates thick lines; 7-9 needles could be used for shading. These are not ideal for colourpacking.|
|Shader||Ideally 7 for medium shades||Used for shading. They are evenly aligned in a tube in a circle.|
Round liners and round shaders are pretty straightforward, they line and they shade. Tightly packed liners are used for making super-fine lines. Then we get to the interesting stuff – flats, magnums and turbo needles. Flat needles (shaders) are arranged in a straight line and can be used to shade in geometric areas like trash-polka-style tattoos.
Stacked magnums comprises of two ‘layers’ of needles that are mostly used to shade, colourpack, and fill in larger areas. Curved magnums achieve the same effect, but they are softer on the skin because they are rounded at the edges.
Turbo needles are hollow point needles. No, this does not mean that the pins themselves are hollow, but rather that the pins are arranged in a circle, being hollow in the middle. The centre of these needles are pulled back, so they don’t penetrate the skin at all. .
What hurts more linework or shading?
Tattoo Shading – Unlike outlining, shading isn’t necessary for every tattoo. Color and shading simply provide more dimension than line work. Contrary to what you might expect, many people report that the shading hurts significantly less than the outlining of the tattoo.
- If you’ve already made it through your line work, pat yourself on the back;
- You’ve likely conquered the most painful part already;
- You can do this! That said, you should understand what is happening during the shading process;
It’s not the simple, single pass of an outline. Rather, your artist will be packing ink into your skin repeatedly, often for hours at a time, over the same area—which is why some people mistakenly expect it to be more uncomfortable than outlining. But remember: Outlining is very detailed, and your tattoo artist uses needles of a different size for the process.
What angle should you tattoo at?
Does Angle Help You Hold a Tattoo Gun Longer? – Yes, a standard angle allows you to hold your tattoo machine longer and have a smooth tattoo process. When using your tattoo machine, it’s advisable to hold it at a standard angle of 45 and 60 degrees when putting tattoo ink into the skin. To hold your gun for longer, apply box motion. The box motion usually works more effectively than circles. Your hand is also more relaxed; thus, you don’t tire before completing the tattoo process. Note that when you hold your machine at different angles, the tattoo needles will go deeper in some areas than others.
This makes you create uneven tattoos, which are not perfect. Another important thing is that the angle you hold the tattoo machines also determines how deep it goes inside the skin surface. Change the angles depending on the level of penetration you need.
Watch this video on the correct tattoo machine holding angle. CHECK: Budget Tattoo Machines to Try!.
What depth should a tattoo needle be set at?
So, Where Should The Needle Go? – The tattoo needle should go into the dermis layer of the skin. This layer lies in the middle, and is the perfect spot for ensuring the ink will stay in the skin, and not ‘bleed out’ as the tattoo heals. The epidermis is not a good ink location since it is too exposed and too outward, while the hypodermis is too deep into the skin, which means the ink won’t be as visible and the pain during tattooing would be twice as intense.
- Also, if the needle penetrates the hypodermis, the client will most certainly experience an infection;
- So, how deep, to be exact, should a needle go into the skin? The answer is – approximately 1/16th inch deep into the skin;
This means that the ink will be placed exactly between the 2mm of the dermis layer. If you’re wondering how a tattoo artist knows where the dermis layer is in the skin, we’ve got you covered with that as well. Before the tattooing process begins, the tattoo artist adjusts the tattoo machine and the needle in regards to the parameter of the dermis layer location.
- So, the dermis layer is approximately 1/16th inch deep into the skin;
- With that knowledge, the tip of the tattoo needle is adjusted to only enter the skin at such depth, not a millimeter shallower or deeper;
This means that the tattoo needle should not stick out the tattoo machine more than 2mm, or less than 1mm.
How far should the needle stick out when tattooing?
The tip of the needle should not be sticking out anymore than 2mm and no less than 1mm. Keep in mind that every person’s skin type is different and there is no exact measure. If during your tattoo there are excessive amounts of blood, it is obviously going in too deep.
How do you dilute tattoo ink for shading?
What is a 1205rm tattoo needle used for?
These magnums are #12 (0. 35mm) in diameter and have a regular 1. 8mm taper. Original T-Tech Magnums are great to color pack large areas for tattooing, shading medium and large areas, as well as blending and are used a lot for traditional tattoos.
What is a 1203rl tattoo needle used for?
Generation C (Gen1) standard 3 count round liner is commonly used for line work and fine shading.
What is a 1205rl tattoo needle used for?
These liners are #12 (0. 35mm) in diameter and have long tapers (4mm). They are great for lining, dot work, detailed work as well as larger needle counts can be found used for shading small areas.
What is a 1207rl tattoo needle used for?
Generation A standard 7 count round liner is used for thick lining, color packing, and shading. It has a membrane and a capillary-action tip for better ink flow.