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Shading Techniques
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After the outline, the next step is to shade and color the tattoo (minus the coloring for portraits, and black and grey tattoos). Remember, you will either use flats, or mags, unless you are doing portrait work in which you will use a larger round. You will need to set your needle depth to one thirty two of an inch from the tip of the needle tube.

To begin the shading process, you will need to work with the blackest areas first thus working your way to the lightest areas. You will need to work in circular motions, but do not over work the area, as this will leave black ink everywhere, and turn your clients skin into hamburger.

There is also another technique used in the shading process, known as sweep shading. You will need to flick your wrist upward as the machine moves forward. This method requires numerous hours of practice before it can be perfected. This technique is often used for large, or intricate tattoos. Instead of one thirty second of an inch, you will need to set your machine to one sixteenth of an inch, as increasing the depth will increase the need for more pigment.

You will need to follow the rules of thumb to produce good shading, and to maintain a consistent and flowing tattoo. You should avoid working the area more than once or twice, to minimize the damage to the skin. When you complete a specific area, wipe it clean of excess ink so that you can check the progress.

Below is a general idea of how a shading should be preformed, again this specific color sequence will allow you to achieve the best tattoo possible. The colors should be used in certain orders to avoid dulling, clouding, or the mixing of colors.

Black or grey work
Dark purples
Lighter purples and blues

Giving the tattoo a rest between colors will allow the pigment to set, reducing the risk of clouding. This of course will give you time to use the ultrasonic to clean the tip of your machine, freeing it of any drying ink.

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