The first tattoos you will be doing when you are ready will be tribal and solid color work. For the most part, you're going to be lining with an eight or a five. The idea of solid color is like the sponge I explained earlier. The longer you hold the sponge in the water the more it will get wet. The only problem is a tattoo needle can damage the skin to the point of scarring if you're in the same spot too long. Scar tissue gets is characteristics from having a lack of elasticity like normal skin. If you scar a tattoo then the pigment will come out as the tattoo heals and touch ups will be more difficult because the scar tissue will cause you problems. If you are tattooing something about the size of a card deck then you will be able to shade and color with the needle you lined with. Any tattoo bigger than a deck of cards should be finished with a mag unless there is a lot of detail. Let's look at coloring a small tribal solid black. You should line the tribal with and eight. The advantage of tribal is that you shouldn't be as concerned about the outline; it's all going to be black anyway. A lot of tribal tattoos you see will have a darker outline than the fill work in the center. You can avoid this by lining the tribal lightly then sharpening the edges with an eight once it's filled in. Let's say the tribal tattoo is the size of a playing card. The best way to look at solid work is in sections, sort of like filling in a very small checker board. Work from the bottom up. When applying the pigment you want to go in small circles like the test in school with a number two pencil. If you fill in with slashes or by going back and forth you will be able to see the needle marks. The best way to practice the circle motion is to take a sheet of paper and try to fill the entire page with pencil. Practice trying to get the coloring on paper smooth so you can't see the pencil marks. You will be able see that the best coverage will be circles about a sixteenth of an inch wide. It takes forever but the tattoo will be high quality.
You must have a light hand, if you push too hard or go too slow then you will just turn your client into a piece of ground chuck. You can also practice your fill work on a banana since the banana will look the same as skin. If you are digging then the skin will look chewed up. You should be able to see the tattooed area about the same quality as a non tattooed area. The finished product should be smooth to the touch. If you can see holes, ruff spots, or ditches in the skin where you lined them you are just playing butcher. Start out light, you can always ad to a tattoo but you can't take away. It won't take long for you to find the speed and pressure you need to have a nice smooth fill. As you tattoo it will seem faster to just go back and forth like your coloring with a marker, but after the tattoo heals the needle marks will show though, I promise. The human skin can only absorb so much pigment, like the sponge it will simply stop taking its fill. If you don't cover the area well enough then the areas you did get will seem darker leaving the tattoo looking splotchy. Take your time and feel it out. With a mag you can go much faster but you have a higher risk of damaging the skin. Once you get efficient with a mag, a tattoo that takes an hour to fill with an eight will take about fifteen minutes, it will also heal twice as fast and dark. After you fill in the largest portions of the tattoo then you should do the darkening close to the line work. Take your time and smooth the outside edge as you fill in. With the circles you should get as close to the lining as possible then fill in and smooth out the edge like you were doing the outline. A good trick to ensure you have a good solid coverage is to apply water to the skin. The water will reflect the light and let you see areas where the fill is too light. Make sure to wipe the water off before continuing to tattoo.
Solid color will be the exact same process. You should have one cup of water per color. When you change colors dip and run the machine in the cup of water up to the washout. Hold it running under the water until most of the pigment comes out. You may have to wipe the tube and needle off with your paper towel to clean it off all of the way. Tattoo pigments mix, so if you don't wash out all of the blue and dip in the yellow, you will tattoo green. This is also why the pigments should be set up in the order of darkest to lightest. If your tattooing a gnome with a blue hat and a yellow vest then you will want to fill in the bulk of the blue using small circles, then do the blue edge work to smooth it out. Next you would rinse out the machine and apply the yellow in the same way. Blue is darker and thicker pigment than Yellow. If you tattoo yellow first, then the blue will soak in the opened skin and dye the yellow to green permanently. Red will turn yellow to orange, and red will also turn white to pink. So you would apply the pigment starting with red, then blue, yellow and finally white if you are using these pigments. Because of the pigments being so thick and having the ability to dye the other colors you should be very careful of the order you tattoo. There are always exceptions to the rules; Some times you can use this to your advantage which I will get more into with the advanced lessons.
While you are tattooing the skin will turn a reddish color due to the irritation the needle causes. This will later come to be an advantage but with color it can throw you off. If you are applying white then a minute or so after the application, the white will turn pink for a couple of hours. Yellow is the worst about this because the addition of the red tint will make it look like orange. So you should apply the orange first so you can see where it is going, then use the yellow. Orange is thicker; you should use it first anyway so you don't stain the yellow a different color. Anytime you use a large amount of white or yellow you should explain to your client that it will look off color for a few hours so they don't loose faith in your ability. It will take some time but you'll see which pigment is thicker and needs to be applied first.
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