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How to Make a Tattoo Stencil

It is easy to make a tattoo stencil, and for this, you need just a few materials that must be always present in your tattoo shop or working space. The process is easy and fast, not more than several minutes. Let’s see all there is to know about making tattoo stencils.

It is time to get to work and make tattoos, but there are a few things you need to know about these initial tattooing stages. The most crucial and essential one is the beginning, or making a tattoo stencil.

Of course, you will prepare all of the tattooing equipment in time, clean the space, sterilize everything, but, without proper stencil creation, you couldn’t quite start with the tattooing. The tattoo stencil is transferring the image from the paper onto the client’s skin. This is the last step before the needle starts buzzing, so it has to be perfect in every sense. Let’s find out below how to make a tattoo stencil.

How to Make a Tattoo Stencil

Make a Tattoo Stencil paper

To make a tattoo stencil, you will first need to gather the needed materials. They are tattoo transfer paper, stencil fluid, ink pen, dip pen, antibacterial soap, masking tape, razor, and deodorant (stick) or stencil liquid/lotion.

Once you gather what you need, you need to insert the design in mind onto the transfer paper (or print it out, depending on what option you chose). Put the tracing paper over the design image, and use masking tape to prevent paper wiggling. Remove the tape after you’re done, and put a blank paper over the tracing. Trace the design again with stencil fluid or pen.

Next, shave the client’s skin where the tattoo is going to be, clean, tap dry, apply the lotion or stick, and press on the stencil over the skin. After 1-2 minutes, peel the paper away.

Read also: Best Tattoo Transfer Stencil Machines

Do You Have to Shave the Skin Before Applying Tattoo Stencil

Yes, you do. It is always recommended that clients come already prepared, but this is not a strict rule, since you as the artist, have to have clean, new razors in the salon, to prep the skin of the client.

Shave Skin Before Applying Tattoo Stencil

Even if there is some stubble or fuzz, or the skin is seemingly smooth, you still have to go over it with a razor just in case. A fully smooth, and clean, dry skin is the perfect canvas for tattooing.

A skin with some hairs, no matter how few in amount, might be an obstacle for smooth tattooing and bother you vision-wise. Plus, the client would feel unpleasant tingling when the hairs are caught by the tattoo machine, so hairs and tattooing do not go hand in hand, remember this!

What are some good stencil papers to have and use?

The most important thing about purchasing and using stencil papers (tattoo transfer paper) is to get the best possible offer, with the best possible quality, for a good and acceptable price, of course.

CINRA 30 Sheets Tattoo Stencil

NRA tattoo transfer paper for tattoos including 30 sheets stencil paper for tattooing for tattoo supplies, CINRA tattoo stencil paper can help can help professional tattoo artist tattoo design transfer on skin.

For example, this stencil paper is a good buy, and here you will receive 30 sheets of great quality paper of 4 plies, and you’ll be able to transfer any design easily, without any issues, perfectly copied on the skin. Another great example of an almost identical offer is this stencil paper. These examples are the perfect great examples of the quality you need in your tattoo salon.

Boolavard Tattoo Transfer Paper

Boolavard tattoo transfer paper for tattoos is made with the high quality dyes and tattoo stencil paper,tattoo transfer paper tattoo supplies allows professional tattoo artists saving time and money.

What Happens if I don’t Dampen the Skin Before Applying the Tattoo Stencil

Dampen the Skin Before Applying the Tattoo Stencil

If you try to apply the tattoo stencil on clean and dry skin, without any dampening or preparation with stick deodorant, the stencil will simply not copy itself at all. Think of this as the final preparation step; first with soap or liquid for stencils, and then the paper is placed over this stick layer.

It is simple, and you can think of this the same way as with those fake, temporary kids’ tattoo stickers – they also do not copy on the skin unless dampened.

You always have to use stick deodorant on the shaved client’s skin, put the stencil paper carefully, without edges lifting or bubbles of air, press it gently, and wait a bit. Then slowly lift the paper and you will see the copied design. Without a stick or any similar product for dampening the skin, the transfer will not show anything copied at all.

Can I start tattooing immediately after the tattoo stencil is copied on the skin?

No. You have to wait for a few minutes before the stencil is completely, fully dry on the client’s skin. If you do not wait, the contours and the careful stencil paper placement go to waste.

One-touch over wet stencil skin copy will mess up the design completely – there will be smudges, ‘leaked’ blurry spots, and all the indigo will copy on your gloves. The same would happen if the client touches his wet stencil copy – all the indigo will end up messed up.

If you do this on a wet stencil copy, you ruin the whole procedure, and you would need to cleanse the skin, and re-apply all over, soap, deodorant stick, everything all over. Then, you will have to wait a few more minutes to dry, and start tattooing.

What if some lines and contours do not show, but others do?

This is not uncommon it happens more often than you think. And, it is not a problem at all for any sort of tattoo. As long as 90% or so is copied on the skin, you can freely start tattooing perfectly. You will find your momentum and dynamics along the way of other contours, and the image will have its shape even mid-way in the process. A freehand tattoo line is an easy thing to do when you have almost all, or most of the contours and lines copied on the skin.

What if I mess up the stencil copying and placement on the skin?

As we mentioned above, it is the same as you would start touching the wet stencil. It is not a big deal, but you will need a few more minutes to prep the client all over again, minus the shaving.

So, just clean the skin to erase the stencil copy, let it dry a bit, apply the liquid or deodorant again, press another stencil copy, remove it, and wait for the skin to dry. You are ready to work on the tattoo this time! Easy as that.


In conclusion, making tattoo stencils is incredibly easy, and all you need are a few basic materials that are essential for the tattoo shop, and a few minutes of your time.

You will need the stencil paper (tattoo transfer paper), stencil fluid, ink pen, dip pen, antibacterial soap, masking tape, razor, and deodorant (stick) or stencil liquid/lotion. Then, you should make and transfer the design onto the paper, as advised above, a process of just a few minutes more or less.

And, the final step is the shaving and deodorant skin-prep for the client. Remember, wait for the stencil copy to dry on the client’s skin, and you can start the tattoo machine to work with. Good luck!