Tattoo Outlining Technique

Tattoo Outlining Technique

2018-06-04 Tattoo Training 0

Gently smear a tiny quantity of petroleum jelly over the fully dried stencilled skin area, ensuring that you use barely enough to create the thinnest film and slight shine. Take your fully assembled outline tattoo machine and attach the clip chord, depress the footswitch. Dip the buzzing needles into your ink pot and leave it there for a few seconds to draw ink into the nozzle. Care is needed to avoid catching and damaging the needle tips on the hard surface of the pots. Even slight contact can “barb” the ends of the needle, rendering it useless and leaving you with no alternative other than throwing it away and using another one.


With your tattoo machine in one hand, stretch the skin with the other and without “tensing up”, begin to follow the outline of the stencil with the tattoo machine. Start at the bottom of the design and gradually work upwards wiping away excess ink with downward strokes and refilling the nozzle as necessary.

Beginning at the top of the design and trying to work downwards will, due to contact with your hand and the necessity to remove excess ink, result in the disappearance of your stencil long before the outline can be completed.


Pressing on hard with the tattoo machine is not necessary and will, in fact, cause unnecessary damage to the skin. The weight of the machine held lightly in your hand and drawn smoothly across the skin, allowing only the tips of the needles to penetrate is sufficient. Hold the machine at a slight angle to the skin, not too much or the needles will enter the skin sideways and result in a line that is too thick, uneven and blurred.


The speed at which you move the tattoo machine, when outlining, must be in accordance with the speed at which your machine is running. Moving the machine too slowly will allow the needles to overwork and damage the skin, too quickly and the needles will not deposit sufficient ink into the skin. Failing to begin your line immediately that the needles touch the skin or similarities failing to remove the needles as soon as the line is completed will result in “blobs” appearing at intervals along the outline of the tattoo.


Tattooing action should come from the shoulder, not the wrist, touching the skin with the needles and immediately moving along the line while maintaining an even speed and depth. Tattooing from the wrist, as if you were drawing on paper, causes the needles to move up and down while in the skin, producing a weak, uneven and patchy finished result, far removed from the clean, sharp, jet black image that you desire.


So:- Stretch the skin good and tight and move the machine at an even speed and depth smoothly across the skin. While running the machine along the line, say the word “SMOOOOOTH” to yourself and end the line in style as you pull the machine away in a slightly exaggerated flourish.

Yeah, I know, sounds like complete nonsense but give it a try anyway, works for me.

That’s the outline done; give the skin a good clean using your spray bottle and paper towels, not forgetting to place the used towels into your clinical waste bin. Apply a small amount of petroleum jelly to the skin and check the design for any bits you may have missed. Fill in any bits as necessary and, once again, clean the skin and apply a small amount of petroleum jelly.

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