How to Shade a Flower Rose Tattoo

Updated July 20, 2017

Tattoo shading is an art form that takes much practice and skill. Shading is used to give depth and detail to a tattoo. For a rose tattoo specifically, it is necessary to correctly shade the flower petals in order to create a tattoo that looks realistic. A liner needle is needed to create an outline and a flat magnum shader and a round magnum shader are used for shading within the rose.

Create a sketch of the flower tattoo and apply it to the area of the body where the tattoo will be. The sketch should be detailed enough that you can follow the pattern and will not have to free hand any of the tattoo, but you should not go into any unnecessary detail. Too much detail can actually make tattooing more difficult.

Use a liner needle to create the tattoo's outline. Trace over the edges of the rose petals and the stem. Make sure to tattoo slowly in one smooth movement so that the lines will look both even and professional.

Use a flat magnum shader to shade in the stem of the rose. With this needle, you will need to shade in linear strokes. Shade the stem in one solid value to make the multiple values of the rose petals stand out.

Adjust the depth of the needle depending on the darkness of the shading. You can do this by rotating the dials located on the gun above the handle. For darker shading, more depth should be used. For lighter shading, less depth should be used. A general guideline is that there should be a space the thickness of a nickel between the needle and the front spring being adjusted by the dial on the contact screw.

Begin shading the rose petals, working your way from the darkest shades to the lightest shades. Use a round magnum shader in order to create more detail. Shade darker near the inside of the rose petals where a shadow would normally be found. Once you begin shading your lightest values, dip the needle in water before shading to dilute the ink and to create a smoother effect. The edges of the petals should be very lightly shaded, if they are shaded at all.


Always remember to thoroughly sanitise the tattoo gun, skin, and tattooing area before and after the tattooing process. Never use the same needle on more than one person. Always throw it away after finishing a tattoo.

Things You'll Need

  • Tattoo gun
  • Liner needle
  • Flat magnum needle
  • Round magnum needle
  • Water
  • Ink
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About the Author

Alec Cunningham writes for the entertainment section of two newspapers located in Knoxville, Tenn. She also writes a biweekly photography column for a famous Australian photographer's website. Cunningham began writing professionally in 2010 and is currently working on her bachelor's degree in journalism at Tusculum College.