How to Shade Tattoo Lettering

Written by alec cunningham
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How to Shade Tattoo Lettering
Tattoo lettering can be done in a single tone or in multiple tones. (Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Shading a tattoo is an intricate process that takes much time and effort to perfect. Once the outline of the tattoo has been created, you can then begin the shading process. Shading can be done in different ways using different needles. Shading can be created in one single tone; however, a variation of lighter and darker tones can also be created to add value to the tattoo. A number of effects can be used for shading. The choice of how to shade is up to both the tattoo artist and the client.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Tattoo gun
  • Needle
  • Ink
  • Water

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  1. 1

    Prepare for the tattoo by setting up the tattoo gun and by properly cleansing the tattoo area. Sterilise the tattooing area as well. Always use a new needle after each tattoo that is given. Contemplate how the tattoo should be shaded before attempting to tattoo.

  2. 2

    Dip the needle of the gun in the ink that you will be using for the tattoo. Once the outline has been finished, you can begin shading. For a lighter shade, dip the needle into water after the needle has been dipped in the ink. This will dilute the ink, giving the tattoo a softer look.

  3. 3

    Tilt the needle when shading to give added effects to a tattoo. This is a process that must be experimented with. Tilting the needle to a certain angle will make that area of a tattoo positively contrast with the areas that were shaded without the needle being tilted.

  4. 4

    Adjust the depth of the needle by turning the dials located above the grip. These dials adjust how far the needle will penetrate into the skin. For darker shading, the needle's depth can be increased; for lighter shading, the needle's depth can be decreased. For general tattooing, there should be a space the size of the thickness of a nickel between the needle and the mechanism that is being adjusted by the dials.

  5. 5

    Make any minor adjustments to the outline and shading of the tattoo. If the tattoo appears too dark, slowly add drops of white ink until the desired tone has been created. Once it is finished, wipe down the tattoo and the area where the tattoo was given. If the client is not satisfied with the finished tattoo, the client should come back at a later date, after the tattoo has had time to heal, for any other adjustments.

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