ETP - Lining, Shading, Color and Grey - Masterclass
Just as important as getting comfortable with the machine and the artist getting his or her body ready to tattoo is understanding how to adjust the machine during the tattoo in order to get the desired result. Finding the right needle depth, and knowing which needles to use and when to use them are critical components of giving a great tattoo.
Tattoo Techniques That You Absolutely Need To Learn About
- The lines have gaps in them. When this happens, it is likely that there is a problem with the actual needle. The machine should be turned off, and the needle thoroughly inspected and possibly replaced.
- The lines are faint. This problem is usually caused by the artist moving the needle too quickly, or occasionally by the needles moving too slowly. It can also be caused by how the skin is being stretched, or when the reservoir has run out of ink and needs to be re-dipped. Worn out needles could also be the cause.
- The needle is snagging on the skin. When this happens, the machine may be running too slowly to allow a clean puncture of the skin. Adjusting the speed and ensuring that the skin is being stretched appropriately should solve this issue.
- The lines are uneven and shaky. This could be the client or even the artist being a little shaky due to nerves. Sometimes it is the machine running too quickly; in this case, the power and speed can be adjusted to a lower setting.
- Along those same lines, do your best to create lines in one single motion, constantly moving forward at an even pace until you get to the end of the line or must refill your tip.
- Make sure you are using new needles that you have inspected for burrs, pits, bends, etc. Your lines are only as good as the needles you use to create them.
- Keep your pressure even from the beginning to the end of the line. Some newer artists have a tendency to press down too hard at the very beginning of the line, which results in a blob of ink that is difficult to conceal in the final piece. Let the machine do the work, you're simply guiding it along the path.
- Move from the beginning of the line to the end, rather than trying to draw it from the middle out. Make sure you only move your machine sideways or forward, never backward.
- Focus on point A - B, that is, the beginning of the line and the end. The middle part will take care of itself. The analogy I love is: think about when you're driving a car. You're not focusing on one inch in front of your bumper. You're looking at the horizon, other cars and obstacles on the road. If you were focused on avoiding each and every bump one inch in front of your bumper you'd have a shaky, erratic ride.
- The human body is not a flat surface
- You are working with a vibrating machine
- Your hand may shake due to nerves, fatigue, or basic human physiology
In addition to using the technique of building your lines that was described above, you can also create a thin bloodline or gray line first, too. Put that line down on the skin and then go back over it with your liner, using the first pass as a guide. Just remember that you don’t want to overwork the client’s skin.
Becoming good at straight lines in a single
pass is something you can definitely strive
to achieve, but it’s not going to happen
immediately, so having other techniques
to get what you desire is just a good idea.
Top To Bottom?
Careful circling can give a similar effect if
done well, but sweep (whip) shading is easier, and
leaves less room for error—not to mention
the finished product looks superior.
Once the shading has been finished, the next step is coloring the design. Before this process can begin, however, there are a few steps that need to be taken to ensure the success of the tattoo. The client’s skin should be gently washed, and a thin coat of A&D should be applied to the design. Every part of the needle apparatus needs to be cleaned under hot running water in order to ensure there is no black ink left anywhere. If even the slightest bit is left behind, it could deposit black in the areas meant to have vivid color, which could spoil the entire look of the tattoo.
- Black and dark grays
- Deep purples (values closer to black)
- Light purple (value with little to no black)
There is certainly wiggle room in this color list, of course. Some reds are deeper and darker than some greens or blues depending on their color value.
Perhaps the most common method, however, is to use pre-made washes purchased from tattoo suppliers. These pigments are available in all of the shades needed for a gray wash, and are consistent each time they are used. Mixing a gray from black and white is easy, but replicating it isn’t always as simple as it seems. Using pre-made washes, however, allows the exact color to be consistent with every tattoo, or even if a tattoo needs to be touched up, a time when the ink color needs to be precise.