How to Make a Tattoo Stencil

How to Make a Tattoo Stencil

Making a tattoo stencil is actually quite easy, though it takes some practice to become a master of the technique. A tattoo artist usually begins by creating a stencil of the tattoo design before replicating it on his client. The stencil is vital because it guides the artist, enabling him to do an accurate job at a good pace. Here is how to make a tattoo stencil for any tattoo design.

What you need

You actually don’t require a lot of materials to create a tattoo stencil by hand. Simply fetch tracing paper of good quality, a fine-tipped marker, stencil fluid and a good dip pen. If you don’t know what stencil fluid is, it is a special dye which transfers to the skin, though it isn’t permanent. You can also buy pens that already have the stencil fluid. They make your work easier as you won’t have to keep dipping the pen in a vial of dye.

Simplify the design

Before making the tattoo stencil, simplify the design, especially if you are referring to a drawing made by another person, or from a photograph. It entails coming up with a minimalistic version of the design through the use of line drawing techniques that are compatible with tattooing styles or techniques. Simplifying the design to get rid of the finer details helps the artist to avoid producing a jumbled up or “muddy” tattoo since tattoo lines are thicker than pencil lines.


The simplified design is then transferred on the tracing paper. The easiest way to go about this is to place the tracing paper over the simplified drawing and trace using a fine tipped marker. Place both the line drawing as well as the tracing paper onto a smooth working surface before you start tracing so as to avoid slipping, which can result in inaccuracies.


The design has to be reversed since the stencil transfers backwards when placed on the skin. One easy way to accomplish this is to turn over the first sheet of tracing paper then place a blank sheet of another tracing paper on top of it. Now tape down both sheets of paper and trace the design using a stencil pen or a dip pen that uses stencil fluid.

Transfer the stencil on the skin

The tattoo artist first cleanses the skin using a green soap – which is a mild antibacterial cleanser – and a sterilized application pad. The area that will receive the tattoo is then shaved using a fresh disposable razor. The stencil lotion is then applied with the sterile pad and the stencil is placed onto the skin. The side with the stencil fluid is the one that comes into contact with the skin.


Practice makes perfect. Now that you know how to make a tattoo stencil, do lots of practice so as to hone your skill. When you are very sure that you can do a great job, you can now transfer your art to the human skin. Until then, use a canvas until you become a pro at it.