Designs that are cut into close-shaved hair (also known as "hair tattoos") are a fun and exciting way to customise a haircut. Hair tattoos can be as simple as a few lines cut into the hair or as elaborate as a full-on picture cut into the hair. Complex hair tattoo designs are the result of a skilled hand and an artistic eye, making them difficult for beginners to attempt, but all hair tattoos stem from the same basic principles.
Sketch a pattern for the design that is to be cut into the client's hair. While this pattern will not be placed directly onto the client's head, it will serve as a point of reference for you while you are cutting the design into the client's hair.
Wrap the neck strip around the client's neck and cover the client with the haircutting cape. When you secure the cape, make sure the cape is only touching the neck strip and not the client's neck.
Shave the client's hair (or at least the area that will receive the design) to within 1/4 inch of the scalp. Use either a Number 2 clipper guard for 1/4 inch or a Number 1 clipper guard for 1/8 inch. Slightly longer hair (1/4 inch) will allow you to add depth to the design; however, shorter hair (1/8 inch) is easier to cut designs into.
Cut the outline of the design into the client's hair with precision clippers. Use the clippers as you would use a paintbrush, pencil or other artist's tool; lightly touch the edge of the clippers to the client's head and drag the edge of the clippers across the client's head as if you were using the clippers to draw the design on paper. Start at the middle of the design and work your way outward to ensure that the design is centred and that you allow enough room for the entire design. Pause frequently and step back to view your work from a distance.
Cut the details into the design after the outline is finished. Fade the hair to create the illusion of light, dark and three dimensions, and make small cuts with the precision clippers to give detail to the image. Pause frequently to check your work.
Brush the hair clippings away from the client's neck and back with a brush, remove the cape and neck strip and send your client on his way with his new hair tattoo.