Using a tattoo machine involves setting the proper speed, using the appropriate needle for either outlining or shading, and making smooth, consistent lines on the skin. Learn the finer points of using a tattoo machine with helpful tips from an experienced tattoo artist in this free video on tattoo equipment.
How to use a tattoo machine. You have several types of tattoo machines. Basically, they break down into liners and shaders. Some liners use a smaller needle set up. Different artists use different liners for different things. I'm going to use an outliner today with a 7 needle outliner to re-outline this design on the back of Zoe's leg. This is a 7 needle liner set up. It's very hard to see. There's a needle bar that runs from the top of the machine here, from the armature bar down through the tube. And the needles are actually soldered on the bar. The bar is a vehicle for the needles. The armature bar goes up and down rather quickly and once the needles make contact with the skin the ink comes out and then you start going along making your line. Which will be a little easier for me to demonstrate once we start doing it. So we're going to start up here in the leaves and try to get these lines all looking as uniform as we possibly can. Some of these are very light, some are very dark. And some you can't see at all. So you just press down lightly right along the outer portion of the bad line so none of the bad line is showing. And bring those right out to a sharp point. In the longer ones you stay to the outside of the old line. You don't want any of the old line showing. And the portion of the old line that is to the inside of the design, if it needs to be covered, will be covered when you go into the shading portion of the tattoo. Again you want to make sure when you're redoing tattoos,especially a tattoo with lines that are as thick as some of these are flowery as some of these are, always stay to the outside of the old tattoo. It creates a fresh line that's going to be to the outside. You can see it's not really bothering Zoe very much at all. It's not very, not overly painful. Redoing tattoos lots of times are a little more painful than getting a tattoo, a brand new one, because a tattoo is ultimately a covered scar. It goes in, you actually damage the outer layer of skin just a bit when you apply them. But you have to put them in far enough so the pigment will be trapped. Now I'm changing from an outliner machine to a shader machine. And I simply had them both set up already. You just take the clip cord from your power supply, clip it into the machine and that supplies the power to this machine. Now your shader will run a bit slower than your outliner because of what it does. This machine has got, the needles are in a different configuration. They're side to side as opposed to being in a circular type configuration so you can cover more area and get a better effect on your shading strokes. Okay when you're shading again, the first thing you want to do is get a very light application of your A and D or Vaseline. Make sure that your machine is set to the desired speed which is done by your re-stat on your power supply here. Your shader should run when your shading, depending on what kind of shading you're doing, you should try run it at the lowest speed possible without it bogging down. And you can feel that by touching the armature bar with your thumb. My rule of thumb has been if it's hurting your thumb nail when it hits it's probably going to be running a little too hard and hurt your customers. So test it on your thumb, adjust it to where you want it and then you're ready to start. And I want to start in the little portion of this limb here, or arm, and again you will touch down, make sure you're getting a good feed for your ink. Just push it along until you see the pigment come out and then with a shader, depending on the type of shading you want to do, you just push your ink around into the places that you want it. And once you've got your puddle then you can go in that puddle and guide your ink. As you can see, you can see very little of what's going on but when you wipe it you've got a nice soft little stayed stroke there. Again you push your pigment out, go back in, push it with another two small circular motions, wipe and there you've got the nice soft shading that you're looking for on this particular design. I'm getting this just about to the desired effect that I'm looking for where I'm going to have a lighter portion of it down here and since this is the upper portion of the limb I'm want the highlight to be up here. So I've just about got this where I want it. And if I wanted to saturate this entire limb with gray then I would make sure to have this a little darker and then lighten up with my gray up here by adding a little green soap or whatever you want to use to cut down your pigment.