Free Tattoo Stencils

One contestant was a bit on the nervous side, as she walked under the lights, displaying some fine work on both arms and shoulders.

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Finishing adhering the stencil

When finished adhering the stencil, it should be cleaned up. Grasp it with a set of medical tongs and hold it in the ultrasonic tank for a few seconds, then wash it good under the faucet. It then should be dried with a paper towel and then filed away.
If you can get a good Xerox of something, it can usually be reproduced on skin. It’s difficult to reproduce a photograph, but there have been done some good likenesses of peoples faces.
Do tattoos from drawings because that way it’s easier to get lines for the stencil. If you’re doing a back piece the exact size of a record cover, tape two spirit masters together to make the design side by side, tape the tops and bottoms together. Then staple Xeroxed copy on top of the spirit masters, white side up. Do this on a clean, flat, hard table. Just trace over all the lines and there you have a perfect stencil. Remove the staples after checking to make sure all the lines are traced over. Then carefully remove the carbon paper from the sheets, being careful not to dislodge the tape holding them together exactly.
All these methods in this chapter work really well and should be used with each other. Choosing the right method depends upon the circumstances. It can only be stressed that the beginning tattooist practice making stencils and transferring them until perfection is attained. The stencil is very important to tattooing since a clean stencil is easier to tattoo from and a sloppy one produces sloppy results. Perfect stencil making is a requirement to professional tattooing.

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Other methods to transfer the tattoo design to the skin with acetate stencils

There is a different way to adhere the transfer to the skin with acetate stencils. Before going into this though, there is one more method of cutting an acetate stencil other than with the stencil cutter. This way is using an electric engraver or electric stencil cutter. This really lightens the pressure on the hands and it saves time. The only drawback is it must be engraved on a thick sheet of plate glass (or light table). If engraved on a board or desk, the grooves seem to flatten out and distort. The thick glass (at least one-half inch thick) keeps the grooves in the acetate sheet sharp and clean, making a good print on the skin.
The method of transfer in using an acetate stencil involves the use of stencil powder and vaseline. There are several kinds of stencil powder available but be advised that “willow charcoal” is not the best, and be sure you get a professional grade of black stencil powder from a reputable dealer. Take the stencil with the groove side up then shake a little powder on it. Rub it in with your finger. Hold it over a basket (this stuff can get messy) and give it a good flick with your fingers. Sometimes a slight wiping with a towel also may clean it up. This step is to ensure all the excess is removed and just enough powder is left to fill the grooves. The stencil is now prepared for transfer. This next step should actually be done first before powdering the stencil because your hands are now all dirty. Wash and scrub them up. Vaseline comes in two varieties. White and carbolated (yellow). The kind to use is the carbolated kind because it is more sticky. After shaving and preparing the skin, smear a thin layer of carbolated vaseline around the area. The most common mistake here is to smear on too much.
It should be just enough to make the skin glisten and any more will smudge the image. Center the stencil and put it on the prepared spot. Keep it pressed in there and work it in with your fingers, rubbing it in on all areas. The next trick is to quickly zing it away from the skin. Don’t pull it off slowly. A fine clean tattoo design should be left. If it doesn’t look too great, just wash it off and try again. This should not be on one of your customers, but on yourself. It should be perfect the first time for the client, and once again, lots of practice on yourself will perfect the technique. Only when you can transfer a design perfect every time are you ready for any kind of professional tattooing.

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Acetate Stencils, Other way of making a tattoo design

One of the most popular ways of tattoo designs transfer is with the acetate stencil. Acetate sheeting is acquired through your tattoo supplier in rolls or sheets which measure in approximately .020 inch thickness. The most practical way is in rolled sheets that you cut to size yourself. The curl in the sheeting is easily removed by running under hot water after it has been cut down to size. The hot water softens it up and allows it to be flattened out.

How to do an acetate stencil.

Materials needed: A design, acetate sheet to cover design and a stencil cutter. First the design is taped or secured to a drawing board or sheet of glass and the acetate sheet (already cut to size), placed over it. Both are secured to keep from moving and the plastic sheet should be about one inch bigger around than the design. The stencil cutter is a pen-type holder which grasps a sturdy stainless steel scribe pin. You then follow the lines of the design with the stencil cutter engraving the lines of the design right into the acetate. Work slowly and get your lines smooth. Don’t include any shading. When done, the acetate should have the lines of the design etched right into it like little grooves. It isn’t necessary to cut your way all the way through the other side, just a solid groove is good enough. The stencil must then be deburred. To do this, take another piece of acetate about one square inch in size and hold it upright with your fingers so the piece is vertical and the stencil is horizontal. The idea here is to rub the stencil back and forth with the edge of the other piece of acetate.
This scraping will take the little burrs out of the stencil, making the transfer come out cleaner and sharper. When this is done, remove the acetate stencil from the table and round off the corners with a pair of scissors, so there are no sharp edges. The acetate stencil is now complete. One great advantage to this style of stencil is if you want a reverse image, just flip over the stencil and etch the image on the other side, creating two stencils, one on each side, of the same design. Number each stencil according to the design sheet and put your name on it. Another advantage is their shelf life. They last quite a long time and can be used over and over again. Clean them up and file them away for the next person wanting that design. Since they take longer to prepare, the beginner should stick to the pencil or ink method of transfer at first, slowly building up the collection of acetate stencils. It saves a lot of time to have acetate stencils cut with your most popular designs on them first, so they don’t have to be repeatedly drawn over and over when you are real busy.

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Marking Pens

Marking pens, also called skin scribes, are surgical marking pens used by doctors to draw scalpel lines on patients. They are non-toxic and are designed to draw right on the skin. It is not good practice to just draw a tattoo design on the body, since mistakes and changes are going to occur. Better to rework the design beforehand on paper and to transfer it with another method. The only reason the skin scribe is mentioned here is that it is a useful tool for touchup work, alterations or additions to a design already on the body. For this purpose, it is always handy to have a few ready for when you need them.

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Other methods and techniques for duplicating tattoo designs

The Ink and Pen

This method is identical to the pencil technique, but instead of a hectograph pencil you use a quill type pen and a bottle of hectograph ink. This is much superior to the pencil for several reasons. First, the ink lines cover solid on one tracing and it doesn’t need to be copied over to get it solid on the paper. Also, the stencil can be used more than once if care is taken not to totally abuse it in the process. The pencil stencil can be used over again also, but the ink tends to last longer and can be used as many as six times without copying it again. Hectograph ink works quite well on tracing paper and is easier to copy because it flows smoothly on the paper. The only drawback is that the hectograph ink is very hard to find and the only known source of it as of this writing is from Spaulding & Rogers Mfg., Inc. The procedure for applying the stencil is the same as for the pencil stencil.

The Duplicating Carbon

This basically gets you the same results as with the pencil or ink method, but is just a different route to get there. Materials needed are a design, a ball point pen (or something similar) and a sheet of either duplicating spirit masters or Heyer gelatin type duplicating carbon which are available everywhere in stationery stores or mail order supply houses. The middle separating sheet is first removed from a sheet of masters. Then it is taped, tacked or secured to a board or clipboard with the tattoo design placed right on top of it. Proceed to copy the design, line for line, with the ball point pen. When you are done, lift the carbon sheet and the design will be copied on the next sheet. This is the stencil. It then can be trimmed and put on by the deodorant stick application method. The stencil can be used more then once if careful, and this technique is simple because you can have a store of duplicating paper in your desk for future use that is quick and relatively clean.

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The Pencil. How to copy the tattoo design on the paper

This is a simple but effective transfer method. The materials needed are a design, a hectograph pencil or pen with hectograph ink and a sheet of high grade tracing paper. First the design (face up or reversed) is taped to a drawing board or secured to a clipboard. Then a sheet of high grade tracing paper is taped or secured over it. The paper should have a 100 percent rag content and be fairly thick in texture to take the abuse of handling. Be sure to cover the entire design and use an economical style of placement (like in a corner of the paper rather than in the middle, so you can conserve space and use the rest of the sheet for other designs). You should be able to see the design through the tracing paper. If youcan’t, build yourself a small light table to make the job easier.

Take a pencil and copy the tattoo design on the paper. It may have to be drawn over a few times to get a solid line. Cut it out, leaving a one inch border around the design. When you are finished doing this, you have the completed stencil. How you get this stencil on the skin is the same method you would use with the ink method or the duplicating carbon. The best adherent to do this with is an ordinary deodorant in stick form. When you have a place where the tattoo is to be located, and have prepared the part with alcohol and a clean shave (covered in detail elsewhere), just rub a little light layer of deodorant on the skin and place the paper stencil right over it. Rub it with your fingers for a few seconds and whisk away the paper. Behold, the design is on the skin. Check the alignment and let the customer check it also. It takes a certain knack to do this cleanly every time, so a great deal of practice is required on the tattooist’s part to get it down pat. It is easy to practice this, since it can be washed off and tried again. Your friends, wife or yourself work well as practice models.

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Different methods on how to tattoo the design to the skin

When you and the customer have chosen the right design, there must be a way to transfer it to the body part getting tattooed. Even the best tattoo artists rarely work totally freehand (that is, to just start tattooing with no guidelines at all on the body). Remember, there is no erasing a tattoo once it is on.
There has to be some type of guide on the skin so you know where you are going and what it might look like ahead of time. In the tattoo trade, this transfer method from the design to the skin is called a stencil and there are many different ways it can be done.
The Ways we are going to cover are among the most popular and it is a personal choice on the tattooist’s part to see which ones work the best for him. The most commonly used methods are drawing on the duplicating carbon, the use of hectograph ink, acetate stencils, the latest stencil creating machines and the simple skin type marker.
First, a word about the design outcome. When drawing a design on paper, it must be remembered that when it is flipped over to put on the skin, it will come out in reverse. This is easily proven by drawing on a piece of paper. Flip it over and hold it up to the light. This is what you will get on the skin. With this in mind, all the designs will have to be drawn in accordance to where they will be placed.  If you want the tattoo to appear in the same direction as the design, the design will have to be reversed or flipped over before the stencils are even commenced.  It is wise to practice doing this on several different designs to understand this principle and to work out your own system of reversing.

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