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Tattoo How To's

Cross Hatching Shading: A Step by Step Guide for Beginners

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Last Update on October 9th 2023 By TPS

Cross hatching shading is a versatile and engaging tattooing shading technique that involves applying lines at different angles to create a captivating mesh-like pattern. Tattoo artists often use this method to add depth, shading, and intricate textures to various elements within a design, such as wood, clothing, or patterns. In this comprehensive guide, tattoo beginners will embark on a journey to master the art of cross-hatching shading:


Step 1: Tattoo Needle Selection

Begin your cross-hatching shading journey by selecting the most suitable needle for the task:

  • Needle Type: Opt for a round shader or round liner needle. These needle types are well-suited for creating clean and precise lines, which are essential for cross-hatching.

  • Needle Diameter: Start with a medium-diameter needle, such as 7RS (round shader) or 7RL (round liner). These needles provide an ideal balance for cross hatching work.

  • Quality and Sterilization: Always prioritize high-quality, pre-sterilized needles from reputable suppliers to ensure a sterile tattooing environment.


Step 2: Tattoo Machine Setup

Prepare your tattoo machine for the intricacies of cross hatching shading:

  • Speed Adjustment: Set your tattoo machine to a moderate speed. A moderate speed setting allows for better control over the ink application process.

  • Voltage Adjustment: Consult your machine's manual for recommended voltage settings to ensure smooth operation without excessive vibrations.


Step 3: Tattoo Ink Dilution

Prepare your tattoo ink for the cross hatching technique:

  • Ink Thinning: To achieve the desired cross-hatching effects, slightly thin your tattoo ink by adding a few drops of distilled water. Mix the ink thoroughly until it reaches the desired consistency—thinner than what's used for lining but not overly watery.


Step 4: Stance, Sitting and Hand Position

Position yourself correctly to execute precise cross hatching shading:

  • Proper Stance: Maintain a stable and comfortable stance with your feet shoulder-width apart. Ensure that your body is positioned comfortably over the tattoo area.

  • Sitting: When sitting, it's essential to position yourself aligning your body and tattooing hand with the tattoo area. This not only provides better visibility and control but also allows you to use your free hand effectively.

  • Hand Placement: Hold the tattoo machine with a relaxed yet steady grip. Your hand movements should be controlled and fluid to execute the cross-hatching technique effectively. Your free hand can be used to gently stretch the client's skin, creating a taut and even canvas for tattooing. This additional support from your free hand helps ensure precise and consistent tattooing while minimizing discomfort for the client.


Step 5: Cross Hatching Technique

Embark on your cross hatching shading journey:

  • Initial Lines: Begin by creating a series of parallel lines. These lines will serve as the foundation for your cross-hatching pattern. Keep the lines evenly spaced and consistent in length.

  • Angle Variation: Create a second set of lines that intersect the initial lines at varying angles. This creates a mesh-like pattern, giving depth and texture to the shaded area.

  • Line Density: Experiment with the density of lines and the distance between them to achieve different shading effects. Closer lines create darker shading, while wider spacing results in lighter shading.


Step 6: Overlapping Passes

Ensure a seamless and uniform cross hatching shading:

  • Overlap Lines: To achieve a cohesive and even shading appearance, overlap each pass of lines slightly with the previous one. This practice prevents gaps or uneven shading within the cross-hatching pattern.


Step 7: Monitor Progress

Regularly assess your cross hatching shading work:

  • Frequent Checks: Pause periodically to step back and assess your cross hatching shading. Ensure the lines align with your artistic vision and maintain uniformity.


Step 8: Patience and Practice

Hone your cross hatching shading skills:

  • Regular Practice: Mastery of cross-hatching shading comes with patience and practice. Dedicate time to practicing on synthetic skin or practice pads to refine your cross hatching technique and build confidence.


Step 9: Clean and Sterilize

Complete the cross hatching shading process:

  • Post-Shading: After completing your cross-hatching shading, thoroughly clean the tattooed area and apply any necessary ointments or dressings. Dispose of used needles properly and ensure comprehensive sterilization of your equipment for future tattooing sessions.


Cross hatching shading is a captivating technique that empowers tattoo artists to add depth and intricate textures to various design elements. With dedication and practice, beginners can master the art of cross-hatching, bringing their creative visions to life with stunning shading effects.

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