How to Make a Tattoo Stencil Using a Scanner

Written by alane michaelson
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share
  • Pin
  • Email
How to Make a Tattoo Stencil Using a Scanner
Applying a stencil to the skin is often the first step in the tattooing process. (Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Before a tattoo artist applies a tattoo to the skin, a stencil of the design is usually made on tissue paper. This stencil is then transferred to the skin of the person to be tattooed, giving the artist an outline to work from. Stencil machines can be expensive, with some models costing several hundred dollars. A relatively affordable dot matrix printer can be used to make a tattoo stencil without the need for any expensive specialised equipment. This is a money-saving technique for new and experienced tattoo artists alike.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Personal computer
  • Scanner
  • Thermal fax paper
  • Dot matrix printer
  • Image editing software

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Scan your chosen image into the computer using the scanner. It is best to start off with a line drawing that can be easily used as a guide once the stencil in on the tattoo recipient's skin.

  2. 2

    Remove and discard the layer of tissue paper from the thermal fax paper. Load the thermal fax paper into the printer with the yellow side facing up.

  3. 3

    Open the scanned image on your computer using the image editing software. If the image in not a line drawing, use the image editing software to convert it to one.

  4. 4

    Print the scanned image with the dot matrix printer. Your tattoo stencil is now ready to apply to the recipient's skin.

Tips and warnings

  • To convert an image to a line drawing, trace around all of the important features of the image, ignoring minor details and shading. This can be done by hand using tracing paper and a pen, or digitally using image editing software and a mouse.
  • Using thermal fax paper will create a reverse of the image on the tissue paper layer of the fax paper. The tissue paper is then applied to moistened skin, transferring the image to the skin.

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.