Tattoos are pieces of art in their own right; using a tattoo stencil is the most effective way to ensure that each intricate ink design is embedded into the skin with detail and precision. Stencils are pretty indispensable during the preparation process, they act as bespoke guidelines for tattoo artists as they work on a piece and are the best way to allow for plain sailing on the design front when the tattooing begins. These useful tools also offer a bit of foresight for both the artist and customer to visualise how a piece will turn out, how a tattoo stencil looks will directly translate into the work produced. So, how are these temporary guidelines made exactly? First thing’s first, each tattoo stencil should start with a strong design that the customer has decided upon with the advice of their artist. Whilst all stencils achieve the same result of creating a handy template, they all take a different route to get there. How an artist chooses to go about making their tattoo stencil is up to personal preference, but thinking about the differences in each method is interesting stuff, let’s take a look at how each one works.

Thermal Vs Hectograph

The most important thing to aim for with any tattoo stencil is that it creates crisp, clean lines when transferred onto the skin. Clearer outlines are far easier to work with and allow an artist to get into their flow without having any hesitations along the way wondering where the true line of the tattoo stencil is. Designing a stencil all starts with a sketch from the artist that meets the brief of the customer, this will be the basis of the tattoo stencil, once it’s finalised the artist can move on to bringing their vision to life.

There are a handful of leading contenders when choosing a method to put together a tattoo stencil. Making stencils manually is nothing new, and it’s still plenty popular. Using hectograph carbon paper, an artist can turn their carefully created design into a transfer that’s ready to use. Where hectograph paper uses pressure to create a tattoo stencil, thermal paper is activated by heat. This alternative paper makes for an efficient tattoo stencil making process when used with its partner in crime, a thermal fax. Thanks to these two tools, an artist doesn’t need to duplicate their design, the copier does it for them to create a tattoo stencil in next to no time. This method isn’t just speedier, another perk is that the design will remain brilliantly clear once transferred for the artist to enjoy working with. There’s one other tattoo stencil making method that can achieve even crisper lines than thermal paper, and that involves using a thermal printer. These printers are flashy pieces of kit that allow artists to print designs that have been created digitally. The tattoo stencil that a thermal printer has produced will be amongst the sharpest and most detailed possible.

Using a tattoo stencil is a surefire way to ensure that a final piece is as close to the original design and vision it can be, but there are other ways to prep a design onto the skin. Let’s not forget that tattoo artists can choose to draw their tattoo stencil straight onto the skin by hand. There are specialist pens to make good use of here that work effectively on this trickier canvas and keep their flow. Directly creating a tattoo stencil by hand is normally something that only more experienced tattoo artists are comfortable doing; these artists will be highly skilled and well practised to truly trust that their freehand work will be accurate

Making The Transfer

Once an artist is happy with their tattoo stencil, it’s time to transfer it onto the skin of the customer in the chair. After cleaning the skin and trimming the stencil, the area can be prepped. Sorting out the skin that the tattoo stencil will be placed on is a pretty critical step to get right; it’s the final stage in making sure that the tattoo stencil will be nice and clear to use easily. A few different helpful products come in handy here to grab the tattoo stencil and secure it to the skin when it’s is applied. Using quality transfer solutions keeps transfer time to a minimum to speed up the process. Along with a quicker drying time, quality solutions will actually transfer the stencil better and prevent the dreaded outcome of smudging once the tattoo stencil is lifted off the skin to achieve those all-important crisp lines.

As well as making the lines of a tattoo stencil look sharp, transfer solutions also give stencils staying power. A tattoo stencil will go through some intense work whilst an artist does what they do best and it needs to stick to the skin well enough to withstand the artist wiping away any mess throughout the sitting; if the lines fade, the artist will struggle with where to ink and the design might suffer. Quality transfer preparation solutions help a tattoo stencil last for hours, letting an artist start longer sessions confidently without worry that touch-ups to their guidelines will be needed.

From finding reliable, high-performing equipment to create a tattoo stencil to sourcing quality solutions that will help it to look and last its best, we stock a wide range of supplies at our Mansfield store that will make each tattoo stencil as accurate as possible to make way for a smooth session in the chair. Visit us to place your order or make your selection of quality tattoo supplies from us online: