How to Become Shady; the Difficult Art of Tattoo Shading


Over the years tattoos have developed into a real art form, and some of the tattoos that accomplished artists create on a regular basis are breathtakingly intricate and impressive. With a huge variety of ink colours and ever more creative design ideas, the sky really seems to be the limit for tattoos in the next few years.<p>

One of the most important and profitable skills that a tattoo artist can develop is the ability to skilfully shade. Despite it seeming like an easy skill, shading is a deceptively tricky practice that takes years to master. It takes a careful hand and an expert knowledge of ink dilution, but the results can be simply amazing! As expert suppliers of everything to do with tattoo supplies from the vital tattoo machines used to create modern tattoo masterpieces, to body jewellery for those that also have a yearning for artistic piercing, we thought we would put together a quick guide to shading for the budding tattoo artists out there;

Don’t Go Too Deep

One of the most important skills for a tattoo artist to master is the depth that they allow the needle to penetrate to. Too shallow and the tattoo may lose some of its intensity during the healing process, but going too deep can cause scarring and ruin the end result. Practice is the key to this; whilst serving out your apprenticeship make sure you closely study the depth at which a professional’s needle is set for a given task.

Concentrate On Your Dilution

Think about if you were to do a pencil drawing, would you only use one pencil? They’re all grey right? The answer is no of course! A range of different pencils gives you a much richer end result, as you can vary the depth and intensity of your shading. The same is true of tattoo ink, and making sure that you get the right dilution of ink to water is vital. Shading cannot simply end abruptly, so being able to gently blend shading into the natural skin colour is an essential skill.

Use the Right Needle

The difference between outlining needles and shading needles is vast, as they are designed to create completely different looks on the skin. It may seem like a chore, constantly changing between wider and narrower needles, but in order to achieve the best results it is vital.

We hope that our quick guide has helped you and that your shading is well on its way to becoming masterful! The best advice that we can give is for you to practice, practice, practice, and if we can help out by providing you with some top quality supplies then don’t hesitate to contact us whenever you like.