Tattoo Lining Techniques

Posted by Dragon Tattoo on


Tattooing involves a variety of different techniques and though they will not all be required for every tattoo, having each mastered will give you a great arsenal for which to tackle any tattoo subject. Lining is often considered the skeleton or bones of any tattoo. The line work often acts as a guideline or coloring page for the artist to fill in from. Not every tattoo has line work though and there are several different lining techniques that can be used depending on the type of tattoo being executed.

Blood lining is one of the most common tattooing techniques; it is often used to create a mark on the skin that will disappear once the tattoo is healed but will stay long enough for the tattoo to be finished should the stencil rub off. It is often used for tattoos to appear as no outline or painted styles but there is also a risk that ink will get in to the open skin and cause a mark to be left behind anyway so it requires a good level of skill to be able to pull off.

Gray lining is similar to blood lining but it uses a very light wash of diluted black. This can be used to lightly mark in areas for session pieces that will be filled in later or as a way of creating an outline that is not so intense for part of a piece. Generally gray lining is not used for an outline itself since this will give an appearance of a faded black outline making the tattoo look either old or poorly done. This is really a behind the scenes technique and is not something that should be visible in the finished tattoo.

A solid outline is the most common lining technique that tattooers will use, though it is also one of the hardest techniques to master. A solid line requires both a steady hand and the ability to predict when the client is going to flinch or move. Having this almost psychic ability only comes with experience and as many apprentices will find out drawing a simple straight line freehand is one of the hardest things to learn. Solid lining does not necessarily have to be in black and many artists frequently use color to outline or add detail using a liner machine. Most tattoo artists look on their needles and machines more like paintbrushes so in this essence a lining grouping is simply a small paintbrush.

As well as technique the equipment used is also very specific. If an artist uses a coil machine the spring arrangement will be different from that of a shader machine. Different needles work best for different artists because of the way everyone tattoos individually and some prefer one style over another. Usually the tighter the needle weave the thinner the line is made even if it has the same number of needles as a larger grouping. Every artist also has their own preference for needle groupings with both tightness and number of needles as well as whether they are long or short tapered needles.

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