Tattoos are a very intricate, complicated form of artistry. Creating a piece of quality body art can be a long process because design and application both involve many small- yet important- steps. Outlining is one such step. In this article we will be discussing how to do a tattoo outline properly and professionally.
The outline of a tattoo functions as the “foundation” upon which the tattoo will be constructed. As with all things, a faulty foundation will without a doubt result in a faulty final product. As a tattoo artist, your job is to deliver a final product that is free from glaring mistakes- after all, people will be wearing your art for the rest of their lives.
In order to create an appropriate outline, you must first create an appropriate stencil. That means that when it comes to stenciling out your work, you absolutely must take your time. Weak, wobbly lines on your stencil will yield weak, wobbly lines on your outline, which will in turn yield a lackluster tattoo. Keep in mind that your stencil should be kept as simple as it possibly can. Small details- like shading, for instance- should be omitted and added later. Too many intricacies in your stencil will bog down your design, and make the transfer less clear.
When it comes time to transfer your design from stencil to skin, there are a few bare necessities to keep in mind. First off, always make sure that you are aligned either forward or sideways with the tattooing device. This is true of both outlining, shading, coloring, and any other time your needle is touching someone else’s skin. Also, remember that outlining should always be done from the bottom up. Beginning at the bottom of the stencil is imperative because blood and sweat both run downwards. This way, you can dab away bodily fluids without dabbing away the stencil that you worked so hard on creating. Keep in mind, too, that the tattoo absolutely must be applied to skin that is stretched taut. Stretching the skin can be done in a variety of ways, but the most simple is for the artist to use his or her free hand to manually pull the skin taut. Plain and simple: a tattoo can not be applied to loose skin.
As you begin your outline, it is best to use small insignificant lines. This practice serves a handful of purposes. First, it allows you, the artist, to decide if the needle is moving too quickly or too slowly to produce nice, even lines. Second, it allows your client, the recipient, to adjust to the feeling of the needle against his or her skin.
Working your way up the stencil, it is important to frequently check your equipment for mechanical errors. If your needles are “hanging up” often, they probably need to be readjusted.
Some final thoughts on tattoo outlining: the outline needs to be clear-cut. You are going for a very defined image when you tattoo an outline. And, remember, never ever use brute force when applying a tattoo. Your tattooing equipment should do all of the work for you. Applying too much pressure will result in an unattractive final product as well as intense discomfort for the tattoo recipient.