Beginning to Tattoo

This is a tattoo liner, a few traits of a liner is the front spring tends to be shorter than a shader, also the contact point is at about 1 'o clock.
This is a tattoo liner, a few traits of a liner is the front spring tends to be shorter than a shader, also the contact point is at about 1 'o clock.

Tattoo Lesson One

In this lesson we will discuss what type of equipment you should have, and try to explain some of the photograph's I have provided. This is the first tattoo lesson, so if this your first time learning about tattooing, pay attention because it is important to know how your equipment operates.


1. You need a tattoo machine, a liner will be preferable for the first several lessons I will be giving. I am assuming that you all know the difference between a liner and shader type tattoo machine. If you don’t I will be providing the types of tattoo machines I use and some basic mechanics that will help you tattoo a hundred percent better.

2. Power Supply, if you have one from a kit, or you spent a little more change for one, settings on these things are an absolute must to have figured out. Tuning your machine correctly will help you manage the normal current you run through your tattoo machines, making it easier to adjust your power supply if tattooing at different locations and your equipment gets knocked around.

3. Foot Pedal to activate a current or terminate a current by simply pressing or lifting your foot on the device.

4. Clip Cord this connects your machine to the power supply while the foot pedal activates or terminates the current that goes to your tattoo machine.

5. With a tattoo machine you need a tattoo lining tube; diamond shape dimension is great for the beginner and a person with plenty of experience seem to prefer these shaped tube tips as well.

6. Proper lining needle, me I just use the standard bug pin tight needle grouping. Gives me a solid line every time, if you received a kit and are not sure what type of needles you have , just make sure that the liner grouping you are attempting to use is round in nature like the head of a pen. Not to be insulting if anyone else is annoyed, but some people need it spelled out.

7. Next thing make sure you got at least two to three rubber bands that will fit snugly around the tattoo machine (holds your needle bar firmly in place allowing for an excellent line while tattooing.)

8. Armature bar nipples, this is an essential part of the gear you need, unless you understand the mechanical components of the machine and how the needle bar loop fits and functions try to use these items they help establish great tattooed lines.

9. Ink caps, for beginners I suggest using the larger sized caps if you have different sized ones.

This a small tool box I use to transport my gear easily. I can set up in less than ten minutes, nice and convenient.
This a small toolbox I use to transport my gear easily. I can set up in less than ten minutes, nice and convenient.

10. Ink, so again if you got a kit and are using non-brand named inks, do a little research, and give me some feedback on what types you are using. I can give you thumbs up or down, if I know the brand.

11. A tub of Vaseline, you will use this on the skin during the tattoo process, prevents the ink from sticking to the skin allowing better attention to the line work, or shading that you are doing.

12. At least one cup of water sometimes up to three depending on how extensive the lining or shading is.

13. Plenty of paper towels, the best size towel is the 11x10 folds well into shapes you will value as we get really into the tattooing.

14. Razors for shaving the area you will be tattooing, some dudes are hairy oh so scary, and at times you will need more than one. I use Schick’s double blade, like 12 for 2 or three bucks.

The final outline on a piece I have started for a close friend.
The final outline on a piece I have started for a close friend.

Final Essentials

15. Most but not all kits will come with a green soap solution that you can reduce with spring or filtered water, city water out of your sink is ok too. Spray bottle is fine, squirt bottle in my opinion is about equal, the only noticeable difference in my opinion is that with a squirt bottle you generally apply it to the paper towel you are going to wipe with, this does give you more control with where you are wiping, instead of getting overspray on an already fading stencil, or spraying it into your buddy’s wife face. I have done both I like the squirt bottle.

16. Alcohol water 50/50 mix… make sure your alcohol is 70% and above for it to be an effective cleaner.

17. Deodorant (Speed Stick) this is applied to the skin after it has been shaved to adhere a proper stencil. The alcohol in the deodorant evaporates allowing the stencil to dry to the skin semi-permanently.

18. Stencil do your best if starting out to use a stencil, this is a great technique that will build your confidence. Or if you are free handing I have found Sharpies to work great in comparison to spending three or four dollars on one skin scribe you can get from tattoo supply companies.

Ok that is the more detailed bit on what equipment items are awesome to use for in home tattooing. Again if you have questions please post, I would like to hear positive feed back. I have tattooed professionally for more than seven years, and am a self taught tattoo artist. The reason I am sharing this information is for those serious artist out there and he or she has had no luck getting into a tattoo parlor. Well here is great start with what I am offering in this blog. I have a lot of the frustrating answers many new tattooists have questions to. So more in the next day or so. I want to talk about power settings and machine tuning. Not sure but I might do a video, if not some real good pics. Remember if this was useful or interesting please vote up or follow.


This was the beginning of what the tattoo started out as.
This was the beginning of what the tattoo started out as.

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Comments 31 comments

ncstateofmind 4 years ago

found nice and informative would like to learn more... and if you knew of any good kits for a lefty that are relatively cheap but of good quality for me to learn with as this will be my first machine

jsngoodrow profile image

jsngoodrow 4 years ago from Washington State Author

Unfortunately you may have do some research for a lefty machine... but in reality what side of the frame you work from should not matter. Depending on your budget check out CAM. I first started with that company when it came to tattooing gear. They will have several kits available. Let me know when you buy a machine and post a pic for me so I can see it after you have it set up. Thanks for the comment.

southernboy 4 years ago

I have this black ink i use its called radiant colors is this good ink email me about this please at thanks

jsngoodrow profile image

jsngoodrow 4 years ago from Washington State Author

I do not use that brand of ink but investigate these types of questions through google... also have you seen tattoos you have done with this ink type?

southernboy 4 years ago

Yes its been great but i want it to be darker and plus im confused on the length of the needle.

southernboy 4 years ago

If u could send some pics of how far needle should be it would be great im trying to make tattooing a career

jsngoodrow profile image

jsngoodrow 4 years ago from Washington State Author

Southernboy I use ONE ink for black outlining and black tribal pieces, the depth of grey wash with ONE has been phenomonal. So 20 bucks a bottle through most distributors

jsngoodrow profile image

jsngoodrow 3 years ago from Washington State Author

I have never heard of that brand and that usually means bad luck with the ink. My preference has been starbright inks for color, and One for outlining and tribal fill but it is best known for grey wash. You can get eight colors for around 75 dollars, and i think you can even find it on ebay might be cheaper there. Thanks for reading, keep me posted on how things go for you

riggse 3 years ago


my dad was a tattoo artist (dead now) and i have always been a great artist with pencil and ebony...i though tattooing would be a great hobby and hopefully turn into a carreer.

keep in mind i have never tatto'd anyone nor will i, but i do want to get a start on learning the basics..

My Gear so far

2 dragon fly style machines...good ones, not the cheap ones.

full array of tips. includes liner, shader and some odd shaped ones

i bought serverl grips, 5 in total..

assorted needles, 2 boxes

ink cups, sm, med and large as well as a holder

power supply with all the cables, peadles...the name is Hurricane

Moms millennium black liner ink, as well as the grey wash and light grey wash.



skin markers

fake skin with designs and with out..

my question atm is wa=hat do u think of this set up...and how far should the needle stick out ( when its down all the way) from the tip...

jsngoodrow profile image

jsngoodrow 3 years ago from Washington State Author

In regards to the setup it sounds extensive with plenty of material to work with as far as getting started (which is perfect), I do have 5 other tattoo lessons that will explain more in depth what you are striving for. Each machine is different but the rule of thumb as far as tuning it are the same. I have not used Millennium in years and was not satisfied with the quality then it may be better now. I use a variety of inks, starbright and eternal colored inks, and ONE black liner, and as far as I am concerned the best grey wash ink you can use. So if you have time poke around some of those other lessons, hopefully they will help you out, and if it leads to more questions, then feel free to ask.

Thanks for reading

ripskya 3 years ago

Thankyou for putting out this information in a professional, and step-by-step manner. I have been trying to learn all I can, and there is so much negativity out there regarding people entering the tattoo world. Very informative, and handy tips/tricks!

jsngoodrow profile image

jsngoodrow 3 years ago from Washington State Author

Trust me I know, i worked diligently for more than five years trying to attain an apprenticeship. Instead I became self taught but worked with some very talented people. Like you said people coming into the industry are very frowned upon, but there are those of us who are talented and also worried about cross contamination, infection, and not living high on the rockstar image. Thanks for reading man and let me know if you have any questions

Animalme33 3 years ago

Your just awesome man! Keep up the good work! I love all your insights and opinions. Thanks much

sparkleyfinger profile image

sparkleyfinger 3 years ago from Glasgow

What is the best type of ink to use? cheers x

jsngoodrow profile image

jsngoodrow 3 years ago from Washington State Author

Well as you know with tattooing it is all about preference. Sorting through the garbage inks is a hassle it was how I learned, but I was self taught and just was never satisfied with the generic inks. I started with MOM ink, then worked my way into INTENZE, at the time I was using INTENZE people were having issues with the red and white inks, at least on my clientele. So I switched to StarBright and am satisfied with the vibrant colors. I also use Eternal Ink for the more classic tattoo colors. I strictly use ONE black ink for all lining, all shading, all grey wash, and all tribal. The best ink as far as black goes. Hope this helps. Let me know!

sparkleyfinger profile image

sparkleyfinger 3 years ago from Glasgow

Thanks! I still haven't even put my gun together lollol. Gna go to my tattooist and see what he uses. Iv got numerous tatts from him, and none have faded. Oldest is 10 years, and is still black! :-) just like asking opinions of others, too... thanks again!

tripp_w 3 years ago

I just recently bought a two machine tattoo kit with one liner and one shader and a bunch of extras. I've also tried to get an apprenticeship but everywhere I went they wanted close to $5,000 to teach me and I don't have that kind of money plus I would NEVER have paid that even if I did. So I really appreciate all the information you're giving out for up-and-comers like myself. I will definitely be coming back here for more info as I get my home studio set up in the coming months. Thanks again!

jsngoodrow profile image

jsngoodrow 3 years ago from Washington State Author

Thanks a bunch, I currently am mentoring via internet a few individuals, so hit me if you need to ask specific questions. Yeah 5 grand is bull shit I started the same way you did and eventually taught myself. Sucks as a trial and error but you learn quick when you make mistakes.

princessremy 2 years ago

My husband has just purchased some inks and they are dragonhawk. My question is are they a good brand?

jsngoodrow profile image

jsngoodrow 2 years ago from Washington State Author

I have never used the brand but the question I have is how much was the kit you two purchased because that will tell me a lot also where you purchased them from...

and thank you there is a lot of mechanical skill that comes with tattooing that many beginners have no idea of and the information that is worth any thing you need to pay for so my goal is to make it available for free.

princessremy 2 years ago from South Carolina

I think he paid like $70 bucks for a beginners kit off of ebay hey git it for me to begin practicing with. And the info ive looked up so far about tge ink is horrible so I came to the conclusion I would only udwe the ink on practice skins and I've already begun ordering ONE black and MOMS 7 piece set for when I actually to work on someone.

jsngoodrow profile image

jsngoodrow 2 years ago from Washington State Author

Do some research on ONE... I used to use it but it is no longer available due to contamination problems... I would only use those machines on practice skin ONLY... 70.oo for the whole kit is scary... I paid 200.00 for a decent tattoo machine... another 150.00 for power supply... inks I would use waverly black ink and starbright for your colors... this is a fair start...

princessremy 2 years ago from South Carolina

Ok will do.

sami1985 2 years ago

What type of alcohol and what is it for?

jsngoodrow profile image

jsngoodrow 2 years ago from Washington State Author

I use 91% up to 99%... the concept with cleaning with alcohol is that it helps remove natural occurring oils our body produces as well as man-made oils during the cleaning phase of your client. This is the cleaning process I was taught.

First clean the area straight up that is going to be tattooed... hair and all with green soap.

Second saturate the area to be tattooed with green soap and prep accordingly to shave.

Third clean the area again with green soap and touch up with razor if you have any hairs left.

Fourth... preferably water wipe area to be tattooed again. Wipe Dry

Fifth use your alcohol to do your final wipe of the area. Let Air Dry

Ready to start Stencil Placement

Crystalhubbard profile image

Crystalhubbard 11 months ago from Tulsa,Ok

Im not into doing tattoos my self but I thought this piece was interesting and enjoyed reading it

jsngoodrow profile image

jsngoodrow 11 months ago from Washington State Author

Well thank you, I'm glad you liked it.

jackal 6 months ago


i have power supply but its not tattoo P.S. can i use it for tattoo???

its 2 ampere and changeable volt from 1 to 30 volt.

and have a digital volt and amp monitoring 6 months ago

That's a great question... yes you can use this... you are just looking to provide a good stable power source... its just important to be able to tune it to the lower voltage for you machine... its easy to blow a capacitator if your running to high of voltage.

Ivana 6 months ago

Hey, thank you for the article :) I have been trying to find information on tattooing on the internet, and I have found very few helpful articles. I feel very lucky for stumbling upon this :)

I have a few questions... I am a complete newbie, I have never tattooed anyone nor do I have any equipment. I'm trying to figure out what is good quality, and what would be of most use to me. Apart from tradieional tattooing, I am interested in doing permanent makeup and paramedical tattooing. What machine do you recommend? Can the same inks be used for both purposes? How do i control to what depth the needle penetrates? (I have read that in traditional tattooing, the pigment is deposited in the third layer of the skin, while in permanent makeup-it is deposited in the second layer) I hope that you can help me.

Best regards,


Putiput 2 weeks ago

Hey loved all the info I wanted to ask how can you tell the difference between a liner and shader gun? Thanks

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