LeapZipBlog: J Wu's blog: Tattoo Needle Knowledge

Tattoo Needle Knowledge

November 19, 2019 by J Wu  

If you are a tattoo beginner, you might be confused with tattoo needle types and groupings. Do you know how to use them? Click and watch the below video, Mr.Shi will tell you their difference.

Mr.Shi: Today, I’ll teach you how to use tattoo needles. We need to understand the tattoo tools, as I said in my last video. Actually the tattoo machine is a traditional tool. The needle is the most important. Tattoo needles penetrate into the skin at different angles, depth, and speed. And we use different needle types to make different tattoos and effects. They are divided into 2 basic categories: Round needles and magnum needles.
tattoo needle skill
Round needles can be liners and shaders. What's their difference? Round liners are tightly grouped needles organized in a circular form. Their needle points are dense. A line done by them will be clear, which won’t be divided into several thin lines since round liners are tightly grouped. Anyway round liners are perfect for lines since they are packed tightly. The number of needles in a configuration is mainly odd. There are 1RL, 3RL, 5RL and so on. The smaller the number is, the faster it penetrates into the skin, the quicker the ink goes into the skin. The bigger the number is, the more resistance it meets, the slowly it penetrates into the skin. Different needles require different machines. That means different needles will meet different resistance when we are making a tattoo. Then the way you control needles, the speed and depth of your needle, and the strength of the machine will change. Finally, the line will differ from what it should be. So we must be good at using needles. Round liners are better used for lining. But they can also be used for shading small areas and making different effects. They can penetrate into the skin quickly. They can make dots. Then, what is the round shader needle? Shader needles are grouped together in a loose round formation. which means that the line will be divided into 2 or 3 very thin lines.
tattoo needle skill
 if you use it to do a line. So shader needles are suitable for special effects, small details, color fill, and basic shading. They will meet more resistance than round liners, so they go into the skin slowly. Anyway, they are not suitable for lining. You can use a shader needle if you need to do special lines, such as blurry lines or do some thin line located in a bold line. I often told my students that all needles including single needle, liner needle, shader needle, and all kinds of magnum needles can be used for lining, shading and special effects. The key is how you use and control the needles and what effects you need. So we have to understand the needles. In a word, round needles can be liners and shaders. Their needlepoint is mainly odd. Such as 1 needle, 3 needles, 5 needles. Different needles will meet different resistance, so the effect will be different too. That’s round needle knowledge.
tattoo needle skill
Next, I’ll talk about magnum needles. What are magnum needles? Look at this picture, it is around liner needle And this is a magnum needle. Magnum needles are grouped with rows of needles.  They are wide. It is more efficient to use magnums since they are large. Different magnums can be used to make different effects. Magnum needles grouping is always odd. Such as 5, 7, 9 larger and lager, until 20, 30 magnums. Magnum needle can be double stacked magnums and single stack magnums. What're their differences? You can judge it according to the points they make. Like my palm, single stack magnums have 1 row of the needle. My fingers have a curve. Magnum needles with the curve are a curved magnum. Take 5 curved magnums as an example, this image is 5 curved magnum. In normal cases, there should be 5 points when it penetrates into the skin. Point 1   Point 2    Point 3  Point 4  Point 5. But it is curved, so some needle points will touch the skin earlier than other needlepoint. The needle points which touch the skin earlier will penetrate deeper into the skin. So the points on both sides will be smaller than the middle ones. Finally, the color on both sides will be lighter than the middle. So curved magnums can be used for shading and filling irregular shapes. Another kind of magnum needle is a flat needle. We also take 5 flat as an example. Its 5 points are paralleled. The depths the 5 needles go are the same. which means the 5 needles are paralleled. This image is a flat grouping. And this image is a curved magnum. The 5 points made by flat needles are paralleled.
tattoo needle skill
Maybe you will make some points deeper than the other if your needle touches the skin at different angles when tattooing. And you can take advantage of this feature to make special effects. In other words, you just need to change the needle tilting angle to create a gradient shape if you know how to use a flat needle.
tattoo needle skill
 I just talked about single stack magnums. They also include curved needles, flat needle, and weaved magnum needles. What do weaved magnums look like? Look at my 8 fingers. There are gaps between the fingers when I cross them. Like fingers, the resistance will be less if needle points are crossed. If the needle points are in one row, the resistance will be more. The resistance will be less if they are crossed. So weaved magnums penetrate into the skin quickly and are great for shading. That’s why we often use weaved magnums for color fills. In order to make all of the needles penetrate into the skin, you must hold the tattoo machine at a big angle. Take 7M1 as an example, only 4 needles can touch the skin if the angle is small, the upper 3 needles can not touch the skin. So you should hold a tattoo machine at 65 to 75-degree angle when you are tattooing.
tattoo needle skill
You can hold the machine at a small angle if you use a single stack magnum needle to tattoo. Well, these are needle knowledge of magnum needles and round needles. All kinds of needles can be used for lining and shading, and various effects as I said just now. The key is whether you’re good at using needles or not. It’s kind of like painting. We need to use different pens when painting, such as a pencil, a fountain pen, a brush. The principle goes the same for needles. People can use different pens and special painting skills to make different kinds of pictures when they are painting. But we only have round liner needles and magnum needles when tattooing. How do we use these 2 kinds of needles to approach different effects? We regard needles as painting tools. So we have to be good at using needles, all kinds of needles. And we must consider the tattoo pattern when we are making tattoo designs. I will tell you guys the methods to examine a tattoo pattern. Firstly, you should know what kind of needles you should use. For example, you need to know you should use 3RL, 13RL, or 9RS to make it when you are tattooing. This line should be thin or bold. And whether you should do small shading. You need to use flat needles or curved needle to do a bold line. Make sure what needles you should use before tattooing. Many beginners just use one needle from the beginning to the end. The tattoos done by them are dead patterns without a soul. A tattoo wore by people should not only have the shape but also have a soul no matter it is a sketch tattoo, watercolor tattoo or oil painting tattoo. So you have to make it have a soul. Only when you know how to use all kinds of needles, your tattoo work will have a soul.
tattoo needle skill
I’ve talked about the importance of needles. When we install needles, there is a tattoo tip surrounding it. We need some skills when installing a tip. I’ll tell you the skill later. I’m teaching you how to install a tattoo needle. How to install? This is a grip. There are several ways to install the needle. Firstly, open a tap and install it. The hole of the tip should be up. The first method, just put the needle inside the grip. But don't poke the needle, otherwise, the needlepoint will be dull. Just make it slide in. This tattoo needle is from Wormhole Tattoo. Remember that your hand can not touch its needle points when you are opening it. We can use a magnifying glass to check whether the needle points are dull and whether they are on the same plane. You also use some fiber or cotton to check it. Wrap the needle and pull it out. If the needle points bring fiber out, you need to use a sterile thread to polish them. Then disinfect the needle again. The needle must be sharp. The sharper the needle is, the faster the ink goes. Many tattoo artists feel confused after they keep on tattooing for 1 or 2 hours. They find out that the needle works smoothly at the beginning, but it works slowly 1 hour later. They wonder whether the machine goes wrong.  Actually, even though the needle is sharp at the beginning, the needlepoint will wear away since it’s constantly rubbing against the skin when it’s working. The needle delivers ink slowly after it has been working for 1 hour or when you use it to do anther shading. At this time, you have 2 choices. You can take the needle out, then polish it and disinfect it. Or you can choose to change a needle. Don’t touch the needlepoint with your hands. And then, just slide it in the grip. Then, insert it into the hole of a tattoo machine. The hole on the tip should be up. Then twist the tube clamp. Then put the needle on the armature bar. The second method is to install a grip firstly. The length of the stem had better than not exceed here. If the stem exceeds too much, rubber bands can’t fix here. I will talk about the principle in detail when I install rubber bands. Remember that the stem shouldn’t exceed here when you install the grip. Then I insert the needle into the term and slide it. Now, as you see it slides in. Then I insert a needle grommet into the hole on the needle. Insert the needle grommet into the armature bar. Then I need to adjust needle depth. It shouldn’t exceed the tip when it isn’t working.
tattoo needle skill
And tighten the tube clamp. Now, I tie a rubber band here. Don’t make it too tight. Tie it gently and make it lose. Pull the rubber band a little down. There must be a certain distance between it and the stem. If it is too close to the stem, the needle will get stuck when the machine is working. So you need to leave some space for the needle moves up and down. Well, the needle is installed. Some students will make a mistake. What mistake? Firstly, some students will bend the needle before they install it, which is a bad habit. They said their previous teachers told them to do so. Why did some teachers tell them to bend needles? It’s because the armature bar was not paralleled to the stem years ago. Nowadays, the machine is much better, so we don’t need to bend needles. Make sure that the needle in the middle of the stem. so that the needle can work smoothly. If you bend the needle or make it touch the stem, there will be resistance which will cause machine heat up. So the needle must be in the middle of the stem when we install a needle. If the needle isn’t in the middle, we can adjust it slightly to make it in the middle. Well, the tattoo tip is also important. Tattoo needle size and tip (tube) size must be paired. If you use a 3RL needle, you’ll use a 3RT tip (tube). A 7RL needle uses a 7RT tip (tube). If you use a 5RT tip (tube) to go with a 3RL needle, the needle will rock inside the tip. As a result, the line will be crooked, unclear, even very blurry. So needle size and tip (tube) size must be paired. The tattoo machine still can work even if you use a 5RT tip (tube) to go with a 3RL needle.
tattoo needle skill
 There are secrets when picking tips. I’ ll share some knowledge with you guys. Here is a picture of three different kinds of tips. Some tattoo tips are narrow. Here is narrow. Our site is clear when we use this kind of tip. But it can not hold enough ink when tattooing. If you need to do a long line, you had better not use this kind of tips. Some tattoo tips are open-mouth tips. Here is open. The air will come in easily since the hole is very big. So the ink cannot stay in the tip. The ink will flow out very quickly once the tattoo machine works. In this case, it will cause a waste of ink and it’ll be difficult for you to do a long line. When you are picking tips, you should pay attention to how much ink they can hold. How much ink does a tip hold? You put the tip in the ink, then the tip will continue to absorb ink after your tattoo machine works for 10 seconds. The tip is full of ink Let’s back to the needle, when you install a needle, it shouldn’t exceed the tip. It should be paralleled to the tip when the machine isn’t working.
tattoo needle skill
Why? Because the machine is working, the needle will come out. This part of the needle will come out. Only this part will penetrate the skin. Since the tattoo machine works very quickly, the needle can penetrate in the skin 20 or 30 times in a second. You must make sure that your needle holds ink in the whole process, which means the needle must hold ink every time it penetrates into the skin. That’s why we need tips that can hold an amount of tattoo ink. And the needle must go back to the tip. The needle can dip ink only when it goes back to the tip. What if the needle is short when it comes out again? I talked about this in the last video. If you think the needle is too short, you can use a coil machine with longer spring to do lines. Many beginners will ask how long the needle depth should be? Generally, the thickness of our skin is 1.2mm. The thickest skin is no more than 1.5mm. So needle depth should depend on the thickness of the skin of different body parts. Needle depth should be at a certain proportion to the thickness of the skin. It doesn’t have to be 1.2mm or 1.5mm. Different tattoo machines will cause the needle depth to be different. Should the needle penetrate the skin deeper when needle depth is longer? It’s wrong. I'm going to tell you how deep the needle should go into the skin when I talk about how to control needles.
tattoo needle skill
Now I tell you that the needle had better not exceed the tip when you install the machine. Because we must ensure that the needle can go into the skin every time it works. Every penetration must be effective. This is one knowledge point. I just mentioned the rubber band, why do we need a rubber band? The rubber bands prevent the needle from shaking heavily. Because the needle has to be fixed here. There must be some room for the needle points. Otherwise, the ink can not flow out. In order to prevent the needle from shaking heavily inside the tip, we need to tie rubber bands to it. After we tie rubber bands to it, if the needle shakes up and down, instead of back and forth when the machine is working. Which means the strength of the rubber band is just fine. Don’t make it too tight. Well, I just assembled the machine and needle. Next, I’ ll talk about how to control a machine. The ways to hold different machines are different. It’s simple to hold a tattoo pen, just like a pencil. It requires skills to hold a coil tattoo machine. Don’t hold a coil machine too tightly when tattooing. Otherwise, the machine won’t work such freely. Your hand can not move freely when dealing with small details. People will be tied after working too long. If your strength just comes from your forearm, you can hold it tightly. You can hold it like this if only your forearm moves. But you cannot hold it tightly if the strength comes from your fingers. The strength that you hold a machine can come from different body parts. Firstly, if it comes from your fingers. There should be enough space right here. You can do small details with your fingers when tattooing. This is the first mode. Secondly, the strength can come from your wrist. You can do small curved lines with the wrist. The more fulcrums we have, the more stably we hold a machine. Fingers move. Wrist moves, Fingers, and wrist move at the same time. You can hold it in the same position if the strength is from your elbow. If your fingers and wrist don’t need to move, you can hold it tightly, like this. There is no certain way to hold a machine. It depends on the tattoo pattern and whether it’s convenient for you. Someone holds a machine like this. Someone hold like this, And in this way. There are many ways. We just pursue the final effect when tattooing. It doesn’t matter how you hold the machine. But we should learn to hold a machine in a normative way. A normative way brings us convenience when we’re tattooing. Well, let’s back to the elbow. Your other body parts don’t need to move, such as your wrist and fingers. But your wrist and finger will move as your elbow moves. This is the so-called three-in-one movement. The strength can also from your shoulder when you need to make large tattoos. When you move your shoulder, your elbow will move, the wrist will move, then fingers will move too.
tattoo needle skill
Under what situation the strength should come from your upper body? For example, you need to do a very long line when making a back tattoo. which needs you to keep steady. If you move too many body parts, your hand will shift easily. As a result, the line won’t be standard or smooth. So you need to fix your wrist and fingers, just move your upper body. The strength should come from different body parts according to the tattoo patterns you are doing. A proper way of holding a machine requires you to leave some space here. It's easier for your fingers to operate the machine. In addition, even if the machine is at a very small degree angle, your hand can still tattoo. If you hold a machine like this, the angle must be big. What is the machine angle? I prepared some pictures. The coil machine angles can be 90°,85°,75 〫, 65 〫, 55 〫, 45 〫,35 〫, till the smallest angle. You need to hold the machine at different degree angles according to the tattoo patterns, the tattoo effects, and your skills. In addition, you need to take the needle depth, the speed of the machine and your hand into consideration.
tattoo needle skill
What about a tattoo pen angle? Tattoo pen’s smallest angles are 25 degrees, smaller than the coil machine. Because the style of a pen is simpler. Its angle can be very small.
tattoo needle skill
Can a tattoo needle penetrate into the skin when the angle is small? Of course, it can. As long as the needle touches the skin, the ink can go into the skin. We need to consider the angle when we're holding the tattoo machine. Look at this machine, its frame style decides the smallest angle can alternate between 45 °to  55 ° If it has no this part, its smallest angle can be smaller than 45 ° you should pick a machine whose frame is simple or a tattoo pen. Well, I just talked about the ways of holding a machine, the strength, and the machine angles.
tattoo needle skill
Whether we need the needle to touch the skin or not when tattooing? There are 3 methods. The first method is to make your tip above the skin when you are tattooing. This means the needle needs to exceed the tip very long, and the needle must hold ink. so that the ink can go into the skin. At the same time, the need for depth must be long, so a coil machine will be better. You will have a better view when needle depth is long. So you can use this method when you need to do some dense patterns. Because this method makes you see the needlepoint clearly, the needle can exactly penetrate into the skin where it should go. Its disadvantage is that you cannot control it easily. Because we are not tattooing on a plane. I mean the tattoo area is not a plane, for example, the elbow. Some skins are hard to get ink. Many factors will make it difficult for you to control the needle, such as your pose, and the guests’ mindset. Since the needle depth is very long, not every penetration is effective. I will teach you how to control the needle and the principles in my later videos.
tattoo needle skill
The second method is to make your tip against the skin gently, which forms a fulcrum. The more fulcrums, the more smooth the line. If a finger touches the skin, there will be a fulcrum. If the palm touches the skin, the fulcrum will be more steady. If both your fingers and palm touch the skin, it’ll be more stable to do lines. If the tip is gently against the skin, we can adjust the needle depth to the proper depth, then it will be better to do lines. This is its advantage. This method is better for people who are good at drawing or painting skills. They don’t even look at the tattoo draft when tattooing. But it’s not a good choice for beginners, for making the elaborate or dense tattoo patterns. Because once the needle is against the skin, it will deliver all the ink (inside the tip) to the skin and it will cover other patterns. As a result, we won’t see the tattoo shape clearly. This is its disadvantage.
tattoo needle skill

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