How To Shade With A Tattoo Gun?
Practice Your Shading Techniques – Learning how to adapt to pressure to achieve certain shading results is the key to being successful in shading your tattoos.
- Practice with Pencil or Paint – Paint, especially watercolor, allows you to practice brush pressure and shading methods. The same can be done with charcoal pencils and working on your stroke techniques.
- Practice on Pig Skin or Artificial Skin – Pig skin is most akin to human flesh, but it comes with a bit of smell and could make some artists uncomfortable. If that’s the case, get your hands on some artificial skin. Regardless of what you are using, you should practice and perfect your understanding of pressure and needle techniques to nail down your shading before moving onto tattooing clients.
- Consider Shadow and Light – The only way to learn how to properly shade is to learn about light sources and how they develop shadows in imagery. The shadow or shading should be the same for the entire piece because the light source needs to be consistent.
- Shade with Complementary Colors – If you are shading on a colored piece, you need to use darked or complementary colors to shade the piece, something that works well with the outline and makes for a smooth transition from lining to the design.
What setting should a tattoo gun be on for shading?
Step 4 – Set the speed of the tattoo machine for line work. Some machines display a readout of voltage. Six volts is appropriate for lining. Most tattoo artists adjust voltage by listening carefully to the sound of the gun–it should produce a steady buzz or a hum.
How do you shade a tattoo step by step?
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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What voltage should a tattoo shader run at?
Thanks For Submitting Your Message! – Check back here to see your message once we’ve reviewed it. What voltage do people use for lining and shading when using a tattoo pen? Submitted by: Gary John Wood 2 years ago 1 Answers Reading Time: < 1 minute Hi Gary, voltage settings are always depending on your style of tattooing, the machine you are using and your personal taste. You should take time with your machine to find out which voltage is the right for you and the machine. Generally most artists use voltages around 7v-9v for lining (8 should be a good start) and 8-10v for shading. Please login or Register to submit your answer Want to know something you can't find here? Ask A Question.
What size needle do you use for shading a tattoo?
#12 Gauge (0. 35mm Diameter) – Just like the 0. 30mm needles. #12 gauges are highly popular across all needle groupings and tattoo styles. Anyone referring to #12 or 0. 35mm needles may also call them Standards. Common in lining and traditional work as they have a faster ink flow.
What speed is best for tattooing?
Conclusion – Tattoo needles move up and down at a speed of between 50 and 3,000 times per minute. The rate can vary depending on the needs and preferences of the tattoo artist. Artists can control speed, angle of the needle, ink colors and other aspects of the process with their tattoo machine.
What stroke is best for shading?
Medium Stroke Length: 3. 5mm It’s most commonly used for color packing and shading.
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!.