Needles come in many shapes and sizes, and each does something different. Tattoo needles are really two pieces, a needle head and a needle bar. The needle head is the part that sits down at the end of your tube and punctures the skin, while the needle bar is a needle shaft that has a circle bent into it called a needle loop or eye loop. This is where the needle attaches to the machine. A common misconception of a tattoo needle is that they are hollow like a hypodermic needle from a shot. This is not true. Tattooing needles are solid, like a safety pin only smaller. A needle grouping is the number of needles in the head. So if I said that a needle is a three then it is three small needles soldered together to make one, in a triangle shape. There are many different groupings, each with a purpose. The more needles are attached to the head the bigger the dot is. So a five pattern needle is a bigger dot then a three pattern needle or a single Needle. How a tattoo really works is the needle moves in and out of the tube, like a sewing machine. When it moves in, it gets ink on it, and when it moves out it punctures then skin. When done correctly a tattoo needle only goes two millimeters deep, that's about the thickness of a dime. The skin is elastic so it stretches. The needle with pigment punctures the skin and the skin squeezes the needle removing the pigment leaving it underneath. Think of a butter knife with peanut butter on it. You wipe the knife off with your finger, nothing on the knife, and peanut butter on your hand. Basically every line in a tattoo is really just a row of small dots really close together making a line. In art this is called "Pointillism". So if you want a bigger line you use a bigger needle group.
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