Good tattoo shading requires experience and is an acquired skill. Diligent practice pays off here because sometimes tattoo artists are judged solely by their peers on the quality of black shading that they do. If done too light, it will not stand out. If not feathered right, it will appear blunt and the shading looks as if it ends abruptly. This is called ■dead-heading" and is undesirable.
Shading must be mastered because, not only does it really make a tattoo stand out, but many tattooing errors and tattoo cover-ups can be hidden and corrected by proper shading. Black shading is the next step in the tattoo process after outlining. All the black work must be done before any color can be put in.
The tattooing spectrum goes from dark to light. That is black first, then the next darkest color, etc., and the lightest colors for last. If not done in this order, the dark colors mix with thelighter ones in the pores already made from the machine and a bad smudged mess will result So, all the black work must be done first, and after the outline is finished, that means the shading is next.
Black shading can be so attractive that some tattooists use this style exclusively. They feel that a black tattoo (one done only in black ink, no color) is the only way to show a tattoo and that the addition of color only hinders the design. With some of the quality work out nowadays, especially single needle tattoos, it's not hard to appreciate this point of view. Black tattoos take on an aged "patina" with time, and after a few years, if the tattoo is retouched up with more black, a certain quality is obtained which cannot be reproduced in any other way.
The tattoo machine should have the four or six needle shader bar set-up properly with the corresponding shader tube. Let the needles stand out about 1/32 inch. The two outside needles should touch the sides just enough to eliminate any side to side motion but not enough to make them tight. Check it running and adjust so there is no side quiver (see Machine Set-Up Section for solutions). Now the artist is set-up to do the black shading. Start by washing the outline with green soap and apply another very thin coat of Vaseline over it. Dip the tip of the machine in the ink cap that was used for outlining (being refilled when need be) without letting the needle points hit
Light Shading against any side of the cap. The machine tube tip will fill up and the ink will gravity flow down the needles and enter the holes your shader needles are making in the skin and at the same time putting in the black.
Begin the tattoo by working on the portions of the design that are to be solid black. Let the machine do the work and do not press down on it. just guide the machine and move the tip in small circles, letting the needle points enter the skin where you want the black ink to go. Never try to run out of ink and try to keep the needles continuously wet with flowing ink. Don't waste dme by tattooing without ink or doing a tattoo that is bleeding excessively. Always work off the points of your needles for best results.
Learn early in your career how to put in solid black (or color) where it is needed. The tip must be kept moving in small circles, slowly covering the desired area. Wipe occasionally with tissue to keep an eye on how it is coming along. Do not over do it because the skin can only handle just so many of those small holes. Remember, all those holes have to heal later. Some people think that the deeper you go, the better the results. This notion is unfounded. If continuously grinding and pressing the machine, the skin will rip and excessive scabbing will occur which will reject ink from the body. If an area is covered way too rapidly, unshaded areas will be left and a very basic rule will be broken, and that is that a tattooist should not go back over what has already been done. Do it the first time right. The skin has to be stretched tightly and the needles should be going into the skin evenly with abouta45" angle measured between the skin and the tilt of the needle and tube
With all these small holes being made in the skin, some bleeding is quite natural and should be expected. If it is overly excessive, double check the needle depth and check the needle points. TVy a slower power on the machine. Bleeding would be called excessive when it drips down the arm or when an area is finished and the only thing that can be seen when the tattoo is wiped off is blood.
As sections of the tattoo are completed and wiped, a thin coat of Vaseline might help the situation. Occasionally, carefully wipe away the bottom of the tube tip where excess ink and Vaseline tends to accumulate. Some customers bleed a lot regardless of how well the machine is tuned Some body parts tend to bleed more than other parts due to differences in skin texture. Bleeding must be accepted and do the best possible job, wiping a lot,
To shade properly, make sure the bridge is set and stable (consult Chapter on Holding Machines) as should be always done. With the machine running, set the needles down gently in the skin along the outline. All four or six needles should be in line with skin surface at all times. No one side should be any deeper than the other side, With the machine running and the needles riding against the outline, make sure the tipofthe tube is touching the skin before starting. Right at this point, the machine is swept away from you with a flick type wrist motion This sweeping motion brings the needles up ami away from the skin.
When this happens, the needles go from full depth in the skin to gradually getting shallower and finally out of the skin at the end of the motion. Hence, when at full depth, full strength black is inserted and while the needles are swept away, the black ink gets toward the surface of the skin and creates grey tones That beautiful effect is called feathering or shading, If the shading is to be light, the sweeping motion should be quicker paced. Don't let the machine dwell on the outline for any length of time, if it is to be dark, a slower mot ion is needed, How much shading is achieved or the quality of feathering is determined by the speed of the sweep and the angle of the machine which is being "whipped11 out of the skin U does require a certain feel or touch, and many hours of practice are needed to fully acquaint oneself with the results that are desired.
You can manipulate a shader in any direction. In shading, you always work off the needles. You must control the action and location of the needles. This is done by attentive looking at what direction is being taken. Black shading can begin on any part of the tattoo, but usually it is best to start at the top ami work down, or from the side, As work progresses downward, the hand and bridge will be resting on unshaded skin and not get all inked up and bloodied.
When all the shading is done and you and the customer are completely satisfied, give the tattoo a green soap spray and gently wipe. Coat with a thin layer of Vaseline and take a short break. Thoroughly wash the black ink out of the tube and off the needles and bottom of the tube tip. Hold the tube under hot running water, this will knock out all excess ink in the tube tip. Run the machine on folded tissue until the needles hitting the tissue show only water. This must be done or any black ink left in the tube will ruin your colors. Just the force of real hot water going into the tube tip does a fine cleaning job,
Wash the tube and needles described above after each color being used so one color does not mix with the next one.
Machine faces toward shading
Notice; angle of tube tip and direction
Back it out and lift, increasing speed up machine
Machine faces toward shading
Upward flick motion
EXAMPLES OF SHADING
EXAMPLES OF SHADING
Shading Tips and Tricks
- Black ink goes in much easier Than colors.
- You might have to run a shader a little faster than an outliner
- Grey shading a Japanese sky is gaining popularity. This is accomplished by havlnga cap filled with black ink diluted with distilled pure waier. The more water the weaker .he tone, creatlnga light, washed out grey effect. Another way of achieving th.s grey effect is by using undiluted black in the machine, and using distilled watei on the skin. You basically wet lhearea(usingasofl brush Jbefore you sweep across it This IS a good way on larger pieces such as the back. Practice this like in anv technique, elsewhere lo perfection before doing it on a customer
- Single needle and ouiline nealies are used to make fine hair and wispy effects. Hotting effects are also achieved by this method.
- Shading or feathering also work well with some colors too, especially red and brown.
- On human figures, use brown or tan shading to show form, curves or muscle bulges. Use the natural skin tone as a highlight and shade to enhance the natural skin.
- Most of the commercial design sheets have designed shading on them. It is an individual matter to change shading by adding or subtracting to suit one's artistic tastes. This should be done anyway to put an individual stamp on each tattoo.
- Just like the outliner, the needle bar loop must be snug on the armature bar nipple. The shaft of the needle bar cannot come in contact with inside of the tube.
- When you change shader needle bars, you will see a series of grooves in the tip. File these out before putting in a new set of needles. A good tool for this is a specially designed mini file available from Spaulding & Rogers Mfg., Inc. By doing this, it doubles the life of the shader tip.
- When moving the needle bar shaft up and down manually, it should feel smooth and free. If you feel a rub, correct it. The needles may be off to one side and not parallel to the tip or not spread correctly. Another rubber band may also correct this problem. Needles may be bent slightly down to hug bottom of shader tip. Never bend the needle bar.
- You may also wish to experiment with a round shader. These are also available from your supplier and hold as many as 14 needles. In appearance they resemble an outliner with a large tip. They have advantages in that they are not prone to cutting the skin up too bad and they can put in a lot of ink at a rapid pace. You will not get the shading effect with the round shader that you will get using a flat one.
This is a type of shading that is not familiar to everyone in the tattoo business as is common sweep shading. The reason is it's quite a hard technique to master and requires a lot of practice. It also takes a super running tattoo machine. The effect you can get with brush shading on a tattoo is very outstanding and puts the artist in a separate class of his own. After you have accomplished this technique, other artists not so fortunate will look up to you with envy Some will even want you to teach them how to do it. The most unique thing about brush shading is that you don't have to stand on your head or get in a bent out position to do it. You can work your shading forwards, backwards or to the side and get all the same effects with little effort. You can practice with a pencil on paper or if you want to be real technical, you can fasten a pencil to the tube on a tattoo machine. This way, you will have the weight of the machine in your hand the same as if you were actually tattooing. The technique is all in the movement of your wrist as is sweep shading, but the brush shading is done from a very slow movement to a very fast movement. As you pick up the needles from the skin, you must turn your machine sideways, moving slowly, and putting the black in solid to start with. As you want to feather out the shading, you pick up the speed of your wrist movement back and forth and at the same time, picking up on the machine while going away from the solid black area. This can be accomplished by going in a forward or reverse position but must be done fast to get the effect desired. Use a low-power on your machine, and if you must go over it again, be very careful because you can get too much black into it and ruin the effect of the whole tattoo. Refer to diagrams.
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