Tattoo Stencil Tips: Carbon & Wax Paper

Written by daniel westlake | 13/05/2017
Tattoo Stencil Tips: Carbon & Wax Paper
Carbon or waxed paper is used to make stencils for most tattoos. (man with tattoo image by jimcox40 from

Tattoo artists often put carbon stencils of the tattoo they are about to draw onto the surface of someone's skin so they will have an exact guide as to where they are supposed to be tattooing. There are certain techniques to putting these stencils on efficiently with carbon or waxed paper, as the better the stencil is put on the skin, the better the tattoo will turn out in most cases.

Trace the Tattoo

The tattoo design should first be traced onto the wax or carbon paper exactly as the person getting the tattoo wants it. These designs should be traced with a medium-point pen, pressing down relatively hard to be sure a good amount of wax or carbon is transferred to the other side of the paper. Once this design has been accurately traced onto the wax or carbon paper, it should be cut out as close to the edges of what was traced as possible. The traced piece then should be set aside until the skin is prepared.

Wash and Shave

The skin should next be washed with green soap or another soap meant for tattoo artists. The hair should also be shaved on the skin where the tattoo will be drawn, as hair carries a large amount of bacteria. Shave about two inches beyond the edge of the area for the tattoo. Then apply a lotion meant for helping the stencil to adhere to the surface of the skin over the shaved area.

Place Stencil

With the lotion applied to the area for the tattoo, take the cut carbon or waxed paper and place it on the skin. Do not move it when you place it, just place it firmly down on the skin once and hold it for a few seconds. Make sure it is straight on flat or the stencil will smear. Then remove the carbon paper from the edges and the stencil will remain on the skin. It will have to dry before the tattoo is applied. This can be done by allowing it to air dry or by dabbing it lightly with a paper towel, though not repeatedly in the same place.

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