Grey Wash and Color Shading Basics

There are two sides to shading a tattoo, the technical side and the artistic side. The artistic side takes many years of practice, which I suggest you study art books that cover pencil shading, color blending, color matching, and light reflection. The best way you can practice art is by repetition. Look at every thing, and then try to draw it. Pay attention to lighting. One rule of shadowing is that in light reflection the shadowed part of the image will be in the direct opposite position of the lighted section. The human eye can distinguish fourteen shades of grey. White is the absence of grey where black is the saturation of grey. White (skin tone) would be the shade one and the black will be the fourteenth shade. While shading you should do the best you can to use all fourteen shades. When shading you the dark line and the light line. The dark line is the darkest part of the area that will be shaded and the light line will be the lightest part. The dark line doesn't always have to be black, just like the light line won't always be white. You have to determine how dark the beginning area will be and how light the end is before you start and area. This is the measure of hues. A hue is the value of a color. If you take a line that fades form solid black to solid white then the black would be 100%, the white of the line would be 0% and the middle would be 50%. So if I said that your dark line need to be 35% and your light line needed to be 15% you would know that the line or area that needed to be shaded would be rather light. A good way to practice this theory on paper is to draw a number of lines each at a different length. At one side write a 100% and the other write 0%. At the 100% line make a solid black square as dark as you can get it. Then try to shade out the side of the box that goes toward the 0% until you can no longer see where the box started and the shading began. Use a pencil and don't smudge the graphite, this will not help you in tattooing. You should shade by going over the area many times instead of just pushing harder.

To understand the technical side of shading, you must understand that shading with a tattoo machine is a combination of times gone over, dilution of pigment, the speed you follow through with, and depth. Think of the skin depth the same way you would a light and dark line, in percentages. Unlike with a pencil where you get a darker line by pushing hard, tattoo pigment is as dark as it's going to get. If you push harder you will dig and scar the skin. Instead, we get lighter by diluting the pigment with water, witch hazel, or distilled water. The act of diluting the pigment to get a lighter affect is called washing. When you hear someone say I got a grey wash tattoo that means that the artist used only black and washed out the pigment to shade the image. There are two main methods of washing pigment, this would be pre mixing wash, and on the spot washing. To have an affective wash you need at least four main pigment densities. This includes solid black, dark wash, medium wash and light wash. To pre mix, you need three empty pigment bottles. The darkness of your wash is a personal thing that varies depending on the artist, so you will have to see what works for you. Line the bottles up in a row. I prefer 1oz bottles to keep it simple. Drip solid black pigment in each bottle according to how dark you want them to be. My pre mix (I use pre mix very little) is ten drops for dark wash, seven drops for medium wash, and three drops for light wash. Then you fill the bottles the rest of the way with distilled water. Make sure they are close tightly, and then shake them up well to mix the pigment. Make sure to mark each bottle because on the outside they will all look black.

The other form of grey wash is "freehand" or "on the spot" mixing. I prefer freehand but it takes time to learn is well, and you need to use the same black on a regular basis to get the feel for how it will dilute. If I were setting up for a grey wash tattoo I would have a large cap of black and four empty large caps. Sometime before I would begin tattooing I will fill the empty caps with water from the water spray bottle. If you dip your needle in black, then it's black, though you will use solid black very little during grey wash. If you dip your needle in black and then the first empty cap, you have dark wash. Dip in black, first empty cap, then the second you have a lighter wash. Dip in both and then the third you have medium, and so on until you get light. After a time of tattooing you will no longer need to use the black, each cap will take on a color of its own. You may have to periodically add water as the caps empty. It takes a while to get use to this method, but it allows you much more control over the hue value placed in each shaded area. Using speed of your movement is very important during shading. If you go slowly, then you will have a darker area filled in, just like the sponge. When I shade or color blend, my hand moves so fast that it's hard to not see my hand as a blur. Since you will have to move fast to get a light hue you will have to drag the needle or shade in the direction of your dominant hand. If you try to push the needle you will get stuck under the skin leaving a very dark spot and hurting your client. Your needle is only so wide. Because of this you will have to work your way up the dark line. Moving fast up the line will help you better blend the hue in so it looks like a solid area instead of a bunch of lines coming from the line. Practice this on paper with a pencil.

If one hundred percent of the needle depth is 2mm then fifty percent is 1mm. you should pull the machine out of the skin as you come to the lighter side of the area. This is called whip shading, due to the appearance of you whipping the machine. When shading or coloring a tattoo you need to keep in your mind that you can always add to a tattoo never take away, so you would shade light then get darker until you are satisfied with your out come. The starting point of the needle braking skin will always be darker due to the inability for measurement. You can not tell how dark your line will be until you see it in the skin. Your starting point will need to be your dark line. Let's say you are using a light washed grey to shade a line. You would shade out from the dark line very lightly but quick to about the 50% mark pulling the needle out of the skin by the 75% mark in a straight direction, not circles. Repeat this all the way up the dark line till it looks like a light, but solid hue. Always go in one direction, using whip shading start from dark line to light. If you use circles during wash, the hue will be too dark. Then starting back at the beginning of the dark line, do the same thing but reduce the length by ten percent every time. So the second pass will be from the dark line to 40%, pulling out by 65%. Repeat this until you get all the way to back to the dark line. Getting shorter strokes as you progress will give the area the shaded look. Even though you are using one hue of wash, every time you go over an area it will get a little darker. This is how you get the hue value form 100%

black to 0% white, or which ever value that you may choose. Going over each area several times is very hard on the skin; this is why we use different values of wash. If you know an area will be light then you will use a light wash, and a dark wash for a darker area. This way you don't have to go over something fifty times to get it dark enough. As you progress with this technique you will see how to shade a larger line with each wash hue to make a more dramatic change form white to solid black.

Color washing and blending is the same technique but less stuff. Black pigment is more watery and so dark; we have to use the mixes to get the desired hues. Color pigment is thicker and easier to work with. Lets say that I'm going to shade with only red. The dark and light line would still apply but you don't need a bunch of empty caps for each color. I would make sure my black or other pigment is full washed out of the tube, and then I would dip in the water designated for the red pigment. If I dip in the water quickly while the machine is running, then I have an 80% hue of red. I count two seconds then I have about a 50% hue, or a medium wash. Three seconds washed out the red for a 20% (light) wash. You simply shade with the light, then work your way to the solid red, blending it till smooth. You can wash any color just like you can with black and grey. The use of at least a seven mag during wash fading will make your tattoos look so much better. If you try to wash with a round it will work, but not nearly as smooth. All of the needles in a mag are right in a row, so as long as you run the mag flat on the skin they will all puncture at the same depth. A lining needle is round, by the time you get to the level of the needle that gives you the widest coverage, you're at half depth. The needles on the bottom are much deeper in the skin then the center needles. Since they are deeper they leave a darker mark giving your blending distinguishable lines. The smoother the shading transition form dark to light, the more realistic your tattoo will look, which leads me to another technique.

Tattoo Shading Techniques

Tattoo Shading Techniques

Black with grey shading tattoo arts are like a representation of who you are and they have a power and magic of their own. This Tattoo tutorial is covering how to do black and gray portrait tattoo techniques. Learn about black with grey shading tattoo art and explore the exceptional techniques of making some beautiful designs.

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Responses

  • zahra yemane
    What neddle to use in grey wash tattoo shading?
    6 years ago
  • madoc
    How much will a grey wash tattoo fade?
    6 years ago
  • JAN
    How do I blend my tattoo shading dark to light?
    6 years ago
  • ileana de luca
    Is shading on paper harder when you tattoo?
    6 years ago
  • Teuvo
    How hard do you push when coloring a tattoo?
    6 years ago
  • Monica Rannikko
    What number should u use for light shading when doing a tattoo.?
    6 years ago
  • assunta
    What can i wash with light grey?
    6 years ago
  • Arvi
    Who is the best at whip shading tattoo?
    6 years ago
  • medhanie
    How to shade light to dark tattoo?
    6 years ago
  • Ausonia
    How to wash out colors when tattooing?
    6 years ago
  • salvia
    Do you apply color over shaded area in a tottoo?
    5 years ago
  • john
    Can i dilute lining black for a grey wash?
    5 years ago
  • Christian
    Do i wash greys with lights or darks?
    5 years ago
  • SANTA
    How to grey wash tattoo and what is the best needle to use?
    5 years ago
  • Mandy
    How to shade when tattooing?
    5 years ago
  • Daniel
    Does colour go over greywash?
    5 years ago
  • CHRISTIN
    Can you add color to greywash on a tattoo?
    5 years ago
  • katharina theissen
    How do i get a grey shading color when tattooing?
    5 years ago
  • lucas
    How to Tattoo Color Wash?
    3 years ago
  • anneli
    How do I shade with a magnum tattooing?
    2 years ago
  • noora
    How tp sgade differemt grey tattoo?
    2 years ago
  • mauno
    Can i do color and gray with a mag when tattooing?
    2 years ago
  • Maria Teresa
    How to shade a tattoo from dark to light color?
    2 years ago
  • ida
    How deep do you go for greywash?
    2 years ago
  • j
    Can you run skin coloured lines through dark tattoo shading?
    2 years ago
  • rufino
    What is the best thing to practice tattoo shading on?
    2 years ago
  • bildat
    Can you go over the black line when color shading?
    2 years ago
  • selma
    Do grey wash tattoos fade faster?
    2 years ago
  • max
    Can you use grey wash for line work?
    2 years ago
  • polo
    Do tattooists use water to shade a tattoo?
    2 years ago
  • tricia
    Can you add light colors too a dark tattoo?
    2 years ago
  • aira
    Can you lighten the shading on a tattoo?
    2 years ago
  • palmiro
    What do you put in first darkest to lightest when tattooing?
    2 years ago
  • Matthias Nussbaum
    When tattooing, what color do you start with?
    2 years ago
  • gimja hamid
    When i shade with magnum it has little lines?
    2 years ago
  • helen
    When tattooing do you put white over colors?
    2 years ago
  • matilda
    When doin gray in tattoo do you use gray color?
    2 years ago
  • Diamanda
    How can be mixed in tatoo color for doing shadding?
    2 years ago
  • marco
    Why magnum needle colours light?
    2 years ago
  • frank mccrimmon
    What colours do i mix to make red grey wash?
    2 years ago
  • taija
    How to shade black and grey with mag?
    2 years ago
  • Mari Nurmela
    How to soften tattoo color shading?
    2 years ago
  • Catriona Graham
    What can you practice shading on for tattooing?
    2 years ago
  • baillie
    When we put light in colour tattoos?
    2 years ago
  • Gloriana Baggins
    How much yine dies shading add yo tattoo?
    2 years ago
  • JOHN
    How to make the red colored tattoo shading?
    2 years ago
  • abbey kennedy
    When coloring a tattoo do you do white last?
    2 years ago
  • Karen
    How mich.needle goes inside skin when shadding greywash?
    2 years ago
  • Sini
    When coloring in tatto do you start with light to dark or dark to light?
    2 years ago
  • leah
    Is colour the same depth as black shade in tattoos?
    2 years ago
  • cora
    When shading a tattoo do you start with darker first?
    2 years ago
  • jackson
    How do gray and black shading on tattooos?
    2 years ago
  • Tuuli
    How much will a watered down tattoo shading fade?
    2 years ago
  • megan
    What can you mix with tattoo to ink to shade make grey without grey ink?
    2 years ago
  • jane
    Is there a way to soften a hard line tattoo?
    2 years ago
  • lucas
    Can j wash blacks with light Grey?
    2 years ago
  • negassi
    How to mix a grey colour for tattooing?
    2 years ago
  • faramond
    How to light gray tattoo line?
    2 years ago
  • eemeli stenvall
    What order should you colour a tattoo darkest to lightest or other way round?
    2 years ago
  • lukas
    How to lighten grey wash in a tattoo?
    2 years ago
  • nicole
    Can you get coloured tattoos grey washed?
    2 years ago
  • Kalimac
    How to make shading colour for tattooing?
    1 year ago
  • Jonna
    How to get the coloring darker when whip shading tattoos?
    1 year ago
  • Nina
    How to tattoo black and gray shading with images?
    1 year ago
  • BERYLLA
    How to mix water and ink for shading tattoos?
    1 year ago
  • john
    How to fade shade tattoo?
    1 year ago
  • poppy
    Can u water down colour tattoo ink like the black and grey wash?
    1 year ago
  • Marko Fuhrmann
    How to make black shading colour?
    1 year ago
  • christina
    What color ink do you use for gray wash tattoo?
    1 year ago
  • tombur
    How to make graywash using wicthazel?
    1 year ago
  • TORSTEN
    How to shade a tattoo design on paper?
    1 year ago
  • Chica
    How to soften a black tattoo?
    1 year ago
  • Stig Sinervo
    Why is shading taking so long tattooing?
    1 year ago
  • Adelard
    What tattoo ink can make greywash?
    1 year ago
  • jessica weissmuller
    How to shading tattoo colours?
    1 year ago
  • Nicola
    How to practice proper tattoo shading with a pencil?
    1 year ago
  • marina
    How to use wicthhazel fo graywash?
    1 year ago
  • isaias yonatan
    How to colour tattoo light to dark?
    1 year ago
  • Micah
    How much will black and grey tattoo lighten?
    1 year ago
  • burtuka
    How to shade a tattoo without using gray wash to fade?
    1 year ago
  • FACONDO
    How to darken portrait tattoos?
    1 year ago
  • hiewan
    How to shade a tatoo in paper?
    1 year ago
  • alberic
    How to find the right mix of colors for my tattoo?
    1 year ago
  • roan
    What can you use to mix with tattoo ink to make it last longer?
    1 year ago
  • Paride
    How to do a grey line tattoo?
    1 year ago
  • Petros
    How to fade and lightly shade a tattoo?
    1 year ago
  • santeri vesisaari
    When colouring tattoos dark or light first?
    1 year ago
  • uwe
    How do I shade and line my tattoo with just one pass through pics?
    1 year ago
  • Callie
    How to shade a black and grey tattoo without grey ink?
    1 year ago
  • mitzi
    How to make shading tattoo blending?
    1 year ago
  • curzio milani
    How many shades of grey in tattoo ink?
    1 year ago
  • PEARL
    How to get a super light shade when tattooing?
    1 year ago
  • ahti
    Can red be added on top of grey shading tattoo?
    1 year ago
  • Wolfgang
    How to make smooth transition from dark to light when tattooing?
    1 year ago
  • giuliano
    What color used for shading tattoos?
    1 year ago
  • FLAVUS
    How do i shade without leaving lines when tattooing?
    1 year ago
  • ROBEL ALI
    Is it hard to add color to gray wash?
    1 year ago
  • dahlak
    How to tattoo dark lines and coulor in?
    1 year ago
  • Danait
    What to mix with white to make grey in tatoo?
    1 year ago
  • luukas
    Can you grey wash with colored ink?
    1 year ago
  • dieter
    How to soften a red tatoo?
    1 year ago
  • yonas
    How to shade and color tattoos?
    1 year ago
  • jari
    How to gray wash shade tattoos?
    1 year ago
  • alanna
    How to mix grey wash shad?
    1 year ago
  • samsa
    How to mix a medium grey for shading a tattoo?
    1 year ago
  • fastolph smallburrow
    How to mix grey wash for tattooing?
    1 year ago
  • tina
    Can you fade a black tatoo with grey ink?
    1 year ago
  • primula hayward
    How to make grey shading ink from black ink tattoos?
    1 year ago
  • rahel
    How to make greywash ink with white?
    1 year ago
  • Kedija
    How do u lighting tattoo down is so dark?
    1 year ago
  • Alberta Marino
    When tattooing do you start with light colors or dark?
    1 year ago
  • clare clark
    Can you use grey to lighten a dark tattoo?
    1 year ago
  • aamos
    How to check grey wash darkness?
    1 year ago
  • kisanet
    What colours make grey wash tattoo ink?
    1 year ago
  • hamid
    How to get light red wash with tattoos?
    1 year ago
  • jacopo
    How long does grey wash ink take to fade?
    12 months ago
  • ritva
    Is graphite shading like tattoo shading?
    12 months ago
  • Dodinas
    How to make gray wash ink?
    12 months ago
  • Scott
    Can dark grey tattoo shading cover black writing?
    12 months ago
  • John
    How to make tattoo color shading?
    12 months ago
  • Sofia
    How to make grey wash tattoo ink with water in bottles?
    12 months ago
  • tero
    What colors are use while shading in tattoos?
    12 months ago
  • heather jackson
    What color of ink we use for shadowing In my tattoo?
    12 months ago
  • Kalle
    How to get grey wash ink light during shading?
    12 months ago
  • natalino
    How to shade with black ink must u mix it with water?
    11 months ago
  • cesio
    Can u have white shading on a tattoo?
    11 months ago
  • Aune
    Which needles would be best for tattoo greywash shading?
    11 months ago
  • Leonardo
    Which choose black and gray wash color for tattoo?
    11 months ago
  • fosco
    How to get smooth black and grey shading?
    11 months ago
  • veikko luostarinen
    How this tattoo ink shad makes idea water mixed?
    11 months ago
  • tanja
    How to get smooth black and grey tattoos?
    11 months ago
  • Posco
    How to make gray wash colors?
    11 months ago
  • sara
    What is the mix in gray wash permanent tattoo color?
    10 months ago
  • maik
    How make Tattoo shading colours?
    10 months ago
  • TERTTU
    How to colour a large area grey tattooing?
    10 months ago
  • frank
    How to mix tattoo grey wash with white?
    10 months ago
  • markus
    What is grey washing a tattoo?
    10 months ago
  • erminio beneventi
    How do you mix colors for shading a tatoo?
    9 months ago
  • Ortensia Longo
    Can i use light cour first and then dark colour for dark shade in a tattoo?
    9 months ago
  • Bernardo Palerma
    How to do light grey shading in tattoo?
    9 months ago
  • dionisia
    Can you do colors like grey wash?
    9 months ago
  • Amy
    How much black tattoo ink does it take to make a light grey wash in a 1 oz bottle?
    9 months ago
  • martina wulf
    How many drobs of black ink do i need to make grey wash?
    9 months ago
  • katy
    What color to use to lighten up a black tattoo?
    9 months ago
  • andrew miller
    Is hand speed how to get smooth grey wash in tattooing?
    8 months ago
  • max
    Have gray wash on the sides of my tattoo how to cover it up?
    8 months ago
  • priscilla
    How to appying long greywash shading on tattoo?
    8 months ago
  • barbara
    How to apply greywash shadings?
    8 months ago
  • temesgen
    What shade or ink to use on grey coloured skin?
    7 months ago
  • leonardo
    When shading do you add water to the ink or gray?
    7 months ago
  • ZUFAN
    Is there any way to soften black ink tattoos?
    7 months ago
  • monika
    How to make grey wash color with black color?
    7 months ago
  • luce
    Can shading on a tattoo be lightened?
    6 months ago
  • Maria
    How many times should you shade to get a deep coulo tattoo?
    6 months ago
  • sarah
    What color makes gray wash?
    6 months ago
  • samuli
    Can grey wash ink be tattoed over?
    5 months ago
  • Ky
    How to learn to make a portrait using graywash?
    5 months ago
  • Karolin
    Can tatooist do a grey colour?
    4 months ago
  • GINA FANUCCI
    How to correctly shade red in a tattoo?
    3 months ago
  • NADIA
    Why do you dip black then greywash?
    3 months ago
  • krystian
    How to mixing black n gray tattoo ink?
    3 months ago
  • otho
    How to mix tattoo inks when shadding lighter colour?
    3 months ago
  • Catena
    WhaT needle do you use for grey wash tattoos?
    3 months ago
  • gilda zetticci
    How to make hazel color on tattoo?
    3 months ago
  • lemlem nasih
    How to shade color tattooing?
    3 months ago
  • awate welde
    How to make color gray tattoo?
    3 months ago
  • Peter
    Can lights cover dark colors in tattoos?
    3 months ago
  • Luwam
    Can you add color over grey shade tattoo?
    2 months ago
  • MIKAEL
    How to apply greywash tattoo on cover up?
    2 months ago
  • fulgenzia
    When tattooing color do you do light or dark first?
    2 months ago
  • hana semere
    Can you shade color over black shaded tattoo areas?
    2 months ago
  • KASEY
    How to do some badass shading and blending of colors on a tattoo?
    28 days ago
  • enrico
    How to make shaded colors on paper?
    4 days ago

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