10 Basic elements of Tattoo shading

Tattoo art is the ancient art form that had emerged rapidly in the modern world. People are now becoming more eager to get a tattoo on their body. Tattoo designing is also looked as a career opportunity by many people. Tattoo if used wonderfully helps in advancing the look of a person. Most of the tattoo designs have meanings and are the symbol for one or the other thing or the emotions. The tattoo design can be added with more beauty through good shading. Shading makes a real difference to the tattoo design. A person who knows about basic elements of tattoo shading can create marvelous tattoo designs.

Tattoo shading

A Tattoo artist spends number of years to prefect his/her tattoo shading skills in order to create outstanding designs. There are different aspects that a tattoo artist must learn in order to do proper shading on a tattoo. But, here is the list of some basics that should be known by every tattoo artist. These are as follows.

The Tattoo Machine

It is the most important element of tattoo shading. It is a 10 coil machine that can be used for shading the tattoo, but works fine at small areas. If you wish to do shading over a larger area then 12 coil machine is the best choice. It needs greater power to operate bigger needles.


  • Tattoo artist must be familiar with proper working of shading machine
  • A tattoo artist must know which machine to use at what time


Most of the tattoo artists believe that the speed of the shading machine must be higher in order to have better shading results. But, this is not at all the right fact. In fact, the speed should be adjusted according to the area on which shading is done to get better results.

2 Speed

Preparing Area

Shading is generally done after the outlining process. Cleaning of entire tattoo surface with water and soap is highly recommended.

3 Preparing Area

  • It will be helpful in removing the excess of ink that is left after the lining process
  • It will also clean the sticky residue or any stencil mark that is left after lining process

Shading before coloring

The inks are generally added to a tattoo in a sequence from darker to lightest. Therefore, shading is the step after outlining of tattoo.

4 Shading before coloring

  • Shading is the last step in tattoo design
  • It will keep the darker ink away from muddying the light colors
  • You need to do some advance planning before shading

Art Appreciation

An artist should be good enough to understand different art effects of shadow and light in order to deliver good shading. This is really important and helpful for the artist. So, an artist must be brilliant enough to use effects of shadow and light.

5 Art Appreciation

Clean the Needles

All the needles and the tubes must be cleaned. The tips of needles should also be cleaned well. Once you had finished shading, you should be sure that the black ink is not left in any needle so that it do not mix up with the light colors next time.

6  Needles


There are different ways to perform shading on a tattoo. Shading is mixing of techniques to give perfect results. A single approach cannot always give a perfect result.

7 Techniques

  • An artist must learn different shading techniques
  • An artist should decide which is the best shading technique for particular tattoo and body part

Black versus Color

The term shading can be used in a different way. In tattoo shops, it is only adding the black ink to tattoo to make dimensions.

8 Black versus Color

  • In some shops the color can also be used to represent shading
  • It also means adding grey scale to the tattoo at some shops

Shader Bars

Shading can be done with round liners, while most of the shading can be done with the shader bars.

9 Shader Bars

  • It includes needles that are line up in flat row for covering more space in single pass
  • Round liner covers less space in single pass

Cover Up Work

Shading can also be used as the method to cover the wrong work. Shading will hide the extra line or mark that might be added to a tattoo accidentally.

10 Cover Up Work

  • It can modify the marks of older tattoos or minor things in the new tattoo
  • Shading can turn the bad design into something really impressive

Shading creates the wonderful tattoo design and plays wonderfully well with the effects of light and shadow. It is the effective medium to give 3-d look to the tattoo design. So, if you wish to make your tattoo look really wonderful then shading is the best way to do so.

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