How to transfer tattoo designs onto your skin

Written by david hill
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share
  • Pin
  • Email
How to transfer tattoo designs onto your skin
With practice, your transferred designs can look exactly how you want them to. (tattoo image by no-FaCe from

Tattoo artists create intricate artwork on skin, accurately and to scale, by transferring a guide, traced from the original design, applied to the body. Transferring a tattoo design is considered one of the most important steps of the tattooing process. A skilled artist, using a transfer, can make sure your tattoo looks exactly the way you want it.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Other People Are Reading

Things you need

  • Ballpoint pen
  • Carbon paper
  • Paper clips
  • Paper
  • Antiseptic
  • Disposable razor
  • Design
  • Roll-on deodorant
  • Alcohol
  • Scissors

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Choose a design, based on personal preferences, to be inked by a tattoo artist. Selecting a design or artwork in advance, with clear line art, will help the artist create a higher-quality transfer and reduce waiting time. Schedule appointments in advance to allow sufficient time for the artist to do good work.

  2. 2

    Place a piece of paper on a dry, clean table or counter top. Place a sheet of carbon paper, ink side down, atop the blank piece of paper, and place the design on top of that. Fasten all three sheets together with paper clips. Check the positions of each layer to be sure the design will be centred on the blank paper, to avoid creating an incomplete copy.

  3. 3

    Trace the line art of the design using the ballpoint pen. Avoiding adding any shading, to prevent mistakes when inking the tattoo. Remove the paper clips and inspect the copy for any marks or inaccuracies that will compromise the final product. Use the scissors to trim and remove excess paper around the design.

  4. 4

    Use the disposable razor to shave the patch of skin the design will be transferred to and wipe the shaved skin with alcohol or other disinfectant. Wait for the skin to dry, and apply the rollon deodorant liberally to the area. Discard the razor and deodorant to avoid infection.

  5. 5

    Press the carbon-copied design, with the ink side facing the skin, against the body for several minutes. Peel the paper off in a fluid motion from one side to the other. Check the placement and clarity of the transfer. Correct any mistakes or botched transfers by removing the design with alcohol and applying a new transfer.

Tips and warnings

  • Always wear latex gloves when working on another person's body, to prevent the transfer of germs and reduce the risk of infections.
  • Avoid amateur tattoo artists practicing without licenses, commonly referred to as scratchers, to prevent infections from improperly cleaned needles.
  • Copies using this method will result in the design's being mirrored. Make the appropriate adjustments to ensure the design will be transferred properly.

Don't Miss

  • All types
  • Articles
  • Slideshows
  • Videos
  • Most relevant
  • Most popular
  • Most recent

No articles available

No slideshows available

No videos available

By using the site, you consent to the use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie policy.