How to Use a Flat Shader Tattoo Gun

Updated April 07, 2017

Creating a tattoo requires more than a tattoo gun and some ink. Different types of needles are used for different areas of lines, shading and colouring a design. A flat shader is a needle configuration where several needles are aligned in a horizontal line and attached to the needle bar; this allows ink to be implanted over a wider area. These needles are used for shading and colouring a tattoo, hence the name "flat shader." Using a flat shader for a tattoo will depend on the design and the artist's preference.

Evaluate the tattoo design. Flat shader needles can be configured to be narrow or wide depending upon the number of needles which are soldered to the needle bar. Select shaders based on the areas of one colour, choosing narrower shaders for narrow areas and wider shaders for wide areas.

Arrange the ink colours being used in the design in disposable ink cups. The cups should be wide enough to accommodate the flat shader which you have chosen for the design.

Attach the flat shader to your tattoo machine. Thread the needle through the sanitary tube and attach the looped end of the needle bar to the armature of the machine. Tighten the nut to attach the needle to the machine and adjust the needle depth. Adjust the speed of the machine from the power supply.

Dip the flat shader needle in the ink cup and press the foot pedal to work the machine. Press the foot pedal to work the needle, then place the needle against the skin in a shading area to begin using the flat shader needle. Continue to re-ink the needle and shade the area until finished.


It is dangerous and in some states illegal to tattoo without being a licensed and trained professional. Do not attempt to tattoo yourself or another person without proper training.

Things You'll Need

  • Tattoo machine and power supply
  • Tattoo ink
  • Disposable ink cups
  • Flat shaders in various sizes
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About the Author

Gwen Wark is a freelance writer working from London, Dublin, and New York. She has been a published writer since 1998 with works appearing in both university and local publications. Her current writing projects include SEO, web copy, print and advertising features. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in history from Rutgers University.