Learning to shade through an apprenticeship is the most common way for an artist to get schooled in the techniques. Today, shading is done with a tattoo machine and follows these steps: First dip the machine into your black or colored ink. To create great shading, the needles of the tattoo machine are best applied at an angle – tilted and used like a paint brush. Shading offers an artist the ability to bring depth into their work and bring an image to life. Within this relationship you can watch repeatedly how it is done and get a chance to experiment with your mentor watching over you. If a lighter shade is needed for a particular section of work, dip the needles into sterile water before applying.


The slower the movement the darker the shade and in turn, the faster the strokes the lighter the shade. Because color pigments were not available to create contrast, artists learned to use shading as a way to give depth to their work.
Lotion can be applied to the skin beforehand to assist in getting a nice even glide when shading. An un-shaded tattoo can look old fashioned or unprofessional, while a shaded tattoo will really “pop” and come to life. It is best to learn all you can about shading before beginning your apprenticeship to save time and make it an easier process.
This early form of shading consisted of varying degrees of ink being applied, ranging from dark black to light grey.


An artist can choose to mix ink with water or even witch hazel beforehand, to create a grey color. If you want a reputation as a great tattoo artist you will definitely have to learn to shade.



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