How To Shade A Tattoo With Color?

How To Shade A Tattoo With Color
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. 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. 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. 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. [1]
  4. 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. 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.
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  1. 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. 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. 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.
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  1. 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. 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. [2]
  3. 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. 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. 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. 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. [3]
  7. 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. [4]
    • 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. 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. 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 needle do you use to color a tattoo?

Flat Shader Needles – Flat shader needles are pins that are soldered in a straight line on the needle bar. These needles are used for lining because their shape lets them deliver more ink to the skin. This means clearer, darker lines with just one stroke.

  • Larger flat needles can be used for colour fills and shading as they deliver more ink quickly with just one pass;
  • Flat needles are good for intricate shading such as in geometric patterns and some mandala work;

Flat shader needles are also common in semi-permanent makeup. Commonly Used for: Some line work. Small shading and colour packing. Black and grey. Colour realism. Japanese. Traditional and neo-traditional. Tribal. Samoan. Geometric.

Can you add color to a shaded tattoo?

Can You Get A Black and Grey Tattoo Colored? – Yes, though you can’t put color over solid black, you can add color around it to have it appear as if it were part of the original design. In many cases, you can get a black and grey tattoo colored after getting your ink, but the ideal is to decide ahead of time whether you want a color or black and grey tattoo.

Certain tattoo style lend themselves better for colorwork like realism tattoos, geometric ink, Japanese tattooing, and neo traditional tattoos. In many styles, black and grey ink provides an excellent and defined outline for colorful tattoos.

a) If you haven’t already gotten your black and grey tattoo but want it to morph over time with added color later, talk to your black and grey tattoo artist before you start your tattoo and inform them that you may be adding color in the future, this allows them to adjust their technique to make room for your future vision.

b) If you’ve already gotten your black and grey tattoo and want to add color, start by talking to a color tattoo artist about what you’d like to add, and they will let you know if it is possible. c) If you already have a color tattoo and you want to change the colors, this is considerably more difficult and some color changes are not possible, that said, refreshing an old color tattoo is common practice.

Bottom line: every black and grey tattoo is different so do your research by finding several talented tattoo artists, and then ask how they would recommend accomplishing your vision of adding color.

How many volts do I need for shading tattoo?

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.

How do tattoo artists do shading?

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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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!).
  1. 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.
  1. 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!
  1. 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 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 many needles are used for shading a tattoo?

Fig. 9 – Disposable needles are shown inside and outside their packaging. In the lower part of the figure, line needles and colour needles are shown; in the upper part of the figure, magnums, colour and shading needles. The thickness, length and point of a needle are all essential for the type of tattoo that is wanted.

  • What we call a needle actually consists of several needles that are soldered together in various ways;
  • A ‘round’ needle that is tightly soldered into a pointed shape may hold up to fifteen needles;
  • This is used for outlining a tattoo;

A soldering of up to fifteen needles will be used for colouring and shading. Magnums/flatshaders are soldered in layers. The larger the tattoo (for instance, a back tattoo with background), the larger the number of needles. .

What are the shading techniques?


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 hurts more outline or shading tattoo?

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.

Can you put color on black ink tattoo?

What to Do If You Want to Add Color Over Black Ink – This is where things get a bit more complicated. The brighter the colors the more of a challenge it can be. Navy blue is one thing, but hot pink? That’s a whole other story. That said, you’re not without recourse, you just need to approach the tattoo in a whole new way.

  1. For starters, you will need to fade the black tattoo to prepare for a cover-up;
  2. This can be effectively accomplished through laser tattoo fading (vs outright removal);
  3. In this case state-of-the-art laser technology will be employed to break apart the black ink particles to the point that they become noticeably lighter;

The brighter the colors you want to add for your new tattoo the greater number of laser fading sessions will be required. Yes, this adds to the length of time (months in most cases) it will take before your skin will be prepared to receive the new and preferred tattoo, but it’s worth the investment.

Can you tattoo color ink over black ink?

Can I hide previous ink using a solid black tattoo cover-up? – Yes! Covering your existing tattoo by process of “blacking it out” is entirely possible, though it will be a time consuming and expensive undertaking. Many people find that this style of cover-up affords them a creative way to hide unwanted large-scale tattoos.

Can you cover-up black tattoo with color?

How Dark is the Original Tattoo and What Colors are Used? – Tattoo artists are absolute wizards when it comes to coloring the skin, and tattoo modifications are a welcome challenge to many artists out there. Existing designs that are small with minimal saturation (such as watercolor, black and gray portraits, and clouds), thin or absent outlines, and gradient coloring or are faded are among the easiest to cover up.

Also, cooler colors tend to be easier to cover than warmer colors. If yours is none of the above, don’t worry. Just because a tattoo is more difficult to cover doesn’t mean you can’t. It’s just more challenging (and a good cover up artist will be up for the challenge).

Your tattoo artist also considers how the new pigment will blend with the existing color. Certain colors could work for or against the design. Large and complex designs with lots of detail, rich shading, or depth of color tend to be the most successful for a dark tattoo cover up.

Can you add to a tattoo later?

Getting a tattoo is not as taboo as it used to be. This is especially true among younger generations, seeing as how about 47% of millennials and 36% of Gen Xers had at least one tattoo in 2015. But existing tattoos sometimes need a little help looking their best — whether it’s due to fading or it was just a bad tattoo, people may want to add on to their tattoos to make them better.

So to make your tattoo be the best it can be, here are a few tips for adding on to current ink. Add more details:  An easy way to make an old tattoo look better is to add more details. If your tattoo art is faded or wasn’t done well the first time around, you can always go back in to add more details — maybe an animal needs more shading in its fur or a portrait could use more fine lines in their hair.

Working with some great tattoo artists, you’ll be able to figure out what kind of details can be added on to spruce up your existing tattoo. Add new elements:  If you have a tattoo that you love already, then you may not want to change anything about it.

  • But you can add new elements around it to make it bigger and more exciting;
  • Maybe you have a quote you want to add below a current tattoo or you want to add some flowers to your animal portrait;
  • Getting creative and adding elements that compliment your current tattoo ink can make your single tattoo into a whole piece that you’ll love;

Add color:  Tattoo designs fade over time and they can look pretty dull after a few years. So if you have a tattoo that needs some sprucing up, why not just freshen up the color? You can stick with the original colors or you can incorporate new ones and change the style of the tattoo.

You can also add color for a background that will make your tattoo complete and really pop on your skin. And if you have a black and white tattoo, adding a few splashes of color can make it even bolder. If you’re looking for a simple way to add to an existing tattoo, adding fresh color is the way to go.

You don’t have to go through the laser tattoo process or get a cover up to change an existing tattoo. With some fresh color and some new elements or details, your old, dull tattoo art can come back to life..

Can I color in my tattoo with marker?

Take a Look at This Kid’s Work of Art – .

Can you put color on top of a black tattoo?

What to Do If You Want to Add Color Over Black Ink – This is where things get a bit more complicated. The brighter the colors the more of a challenge it can be. Navy blue is one thing, but hot pink? That’s a whole other story. That said, you’re not without recourse, you just need to approach the tattoo in a whole new way.

For starters, you will need to fade the black tattoo to prepare for a cover-up. This can be effectively accomplished through laser tattoo fading (vs outright removal). In this case state-of-the-art laser technology will be employed to break apart the black ink particles to the point that they become noticeably lighter.

The brighter the colors you want to add for your new tattoo the greater number of laser fading sessions will be required. Yes, this adds to the length of time (months in most cases) it will take before your skin will be prepared to receive the new and preferred tattoo, but it’s worth the investment.