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Last Update on January 26th 2024 By TPS

Information & Guides

Learn Tattooing - A how to Guide for the Tattoo Beginner

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If you have a burning passion for tattooing and a creative flair, as a tattoo beginner you can now embark on your artistic journey from the comfort of your home. To learn tattooing skills and techniques from home has become increasingly accessible, thanks to the availability of tattoo starter kits, practice tools and the vast wealth of information available in books and online for the tattoo beginner. In this guide, we will explore how to get started with tattooing from home, using a tattoo starter kit, and taking advantage of online resources to expand your knowledge and skills and to learn tattooing.

Embrace Your Passion for Tattooing

Starting as a tattoo beginner is a unique endeavor that demands not just skill but a deep-seated passion for the art. My journey began with an overwhelming love for self-expression through art and then ink, and this passion has been my guiding light ever since. Tattooing requires dedication, and it's this dedication to learn tattooing that will propel you forward, even when you face challenges along the way. 

Drawing from others that have walked the path

As someone who embarked on the exciting journey of becoming a tattoo artist, I understand the burning passion that fuels your desire to explore this incredible craft. Starting as a tattoo beginner, I too felt the thrill of transforming my creative flair into tangible, artistic expressions to make others dream tattoo come to life. It's an adventure filled with learning and artistic growth, and I'm here to share my insights with you.

Invest in a Quality Tattoo Starter Kit

A tattoo starter kit is an essential foundation to learn tattooing from home for the beginner. Look for reputable kits that include all the necessary equipment like a tattoo machine, needles, ink, and hygiene supplies. Take your time to research and choose a kit that is suitable for beginners.

When I was a tattoo beginner and was investing in a quality tattoo equipment. I remember the excitement of unboxing my kit, examining each piece of equipment, and feeling the weight of possibility in my hands. Choosing the right kit for beginners can be overwhelming, but it's a significant milestone in your journey. Research is your best friend here, and I'll share some valuable tips on selecting a kit that aligns with your goals.

Utilize Online Learning Resources

In today's digital age, that ability to learn tattooing has never been more accessible. I vividly recall it was not always like this and it was very hard to learn on your own with an apprenticeship the only real avenue. Today we have online tutorials, our ability to watch video demonstrations, and actively participating in forums where experienced artists generously shared their wisdom and tips.


These resources opened doors to new techniques, styles, and insights that can profoundly shape your journey. Below I'll guide you on areas to focus in this vast online landscape.

The internet offers a treasure trove of tattooing knowledge waiting to be explored. Seek out online tutorials, video demonstrations, forums and blogs where experienced artists share their tips and tricks. Many artists offer courses and workshops that you can attend virtually to enhance your skills and help you learn tattooing.

Read Tattoo Books

In addition to online resources, don't overlook the value of books on tattooing. Look for reputable publications written by experienced tattoo artists that cover various styles, techniques, and the history of tattooing. These books can provide a solid theoretical foundation for the tattoo beginner.

Start with Simplicity and Practice

As a beginner tattooist learning to tattoo at home, start with simple designs to build your confidence and skills. Practice on synthetic skin or other suitable materials, honing your technique before attempting real tattoo work.

Choose High-Quality Practice Skin

Invest in reputable and high-quality practice skin products. Look for skin that closely resembles real skin to provide a more realistic experience. The practice skin should be thick enough to withstand multiple sessions and allow you to experiment with different tattooing styles.


Learning to use the tattoo gun

As a tattoo beginner, don't rush the process of learning different tattoo gun techniques. Each one requires dedicated practice, an understanding of machine control, and an appreciation for the interplay between pressure, speed, and depth. Below are some helpful hints as you transition from sketching to inking

Outlining Technique

Just as an artist sketches the initial lines of their masterpiece, you'll use a liner machine to create bold, clean lines that define the contours of your design. The liner machine comprises fewer needles, allowing you to achieve precise outlines with controlled depth. Patience and steady hands are your allies in mastering this technique, as it sets the foundation for the subsequent shading and coloring stages. Read our guide on mastering lines to learn more.

Shading Technique

Bringing Depth and Texture Shading is where the magic of dimensionality happens. By adjusting the angle, speed, and depth of your tattoo machine, you can create gradients and varying levels of darkness. Shading is crucial for adding depth, texture, and realism to your designs. It's like using different shades of paint to create a lifelike illusion on a canvas. Experimenting with different needle groupings, such as magnum needles, helps achieve smoother transitions and stunning gradients. More information can be found in our Shading guide here.

Color Packing Technique

Vibrancy and Boldness Color packing involves using a liner or shader machine to densely pack color into specific areas of the design. This technique ensures that your colors remain vibrant and bold, standing out prominently against the skin. The key here is to use multiple passes with the same color, layering them to achieve the desired intensity. A steady hand, consistent pressure, and proper ink saturation are essential for achieving the best results. A good understanding and appreciation of Tattoo Color Theory will assist you on your journey to becoming a tattooist.  

Whip Shading Technique

Dynamic Texture and Movement Whip shading is a dynamic technique that adds texture and movement to your tattoos. It involves a combination of quick, circular motions and controlled machine speed to create a distinct textured effect. This technique is particularly useful for creating organic textures like fur, clouds, or water. Whip shading requires practice to achieve the right balance between speed and pressure for consistent results.

Dotwork Technique

Intricate detailing Dotwork is a meticulous technique that involves creating intricate designs using a series of dots rather than continuous lines. It's a technique that demands patience and attention to detail. Dotwork is perfect for mandalas, geometric designs, and patterns. Using a single needle or a very small group of needles, you'll gradually build up the design dot by dot. The result is a striking and mesmerizing piece of art with a unique visual texture.

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Whip Shading - Image:

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Fine line by @TASHA_TATTOO

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Dotwork Image: domjoeltattoo /Instagram 

Common mistakes beginner tattooists make

Recognizing what the common mistakes the tattoo beginner makes, will assist the beginner tattooists to set themselves on a path to becoming more skilled and confident in using a tattoo gun. Consistent practice, continuous learning, and a dedication to improvement are key to overcoming these challenges and honing your craft.

Inconsistent Machine Control

Mistake: Applying uneven pressure or speed while using the tattoo gun, leading to inconsistent lines or shading.

How to avoid: Practice maintaining a steady hand and consistent machine control. Focus on achieving smooth, fluid movements to create clean and precise tattoos.

Incorrect Needle Configuration

Mistake: Using the wrong needle configuration for the desired technique, resulting in undesirable outcomes.

How to avoid: Understand the purpose of different needle groupings (liners, shaders, magnums) and select the appropriate one based on the tattooing technique you're performing.

Improper Depth and Pressure

Mistake: Tattooing too shallow or too deep, causing uneven ink distribution or discomfort for the client.

How to avoid: Learn to adjust the depth of the needle according to the area being tattooed and the technique you're using. Maintain consistent pressure for even results.

Neglecting Sanitization and Hygiene

Mistake: Failing to properly sanitize and maintain the tattoo gun, increasing the risk of infection and cross-contamination.

How to avoid: Prioritize hygiene by using disposable, single-use needles and sterilized equipment. Regularly clean and sanitize your tattoo machine and workspace to ensure a safe environment for both you and your clients.

Rushing the Process

Mistake: Tattooing too quickly or impatiently, leading to mistakes and subpar results.

How to avoid: Take your time during each tattoo session. Plan your design, stencil placement, and technique before starting. Patience ensures better accuracy and a more polished outcome.


Learn from Mistakes

The key is to practice to build your skill and once you feel ready, start small. Mistakes are an inevitable part of learning as no one is perfect from day one and its part of the learning process. Embrace them as opportunities to improve and refine your skills. If you have practiced enough, it wont be that something went wrong, more so that it didn't turn out the way you had intended. Analyze and understand to see what you would change next time. Practice more trying to create the same situation for example following the curves of the body or a different combination of colors and shading. Develop strategies to overcome challenges like these in your future tattooing endeavors.

Understanding different styles

The dynamic pulse of the always changing tattooing world is the styles and trends of tattooing. It's imperative that you understand and explore this vibrant palette of possibilities as a tattoo beginner. Tattoo styles range from hyper-realistic works of art that transcend the limitations of canvas and skin to classic and neo-traditional motifs with deep cultural roots. Tattoos using watercolors combine colors in hazy, creative strokes, whereas minimalistic art celebrates the elegance of understatement.


Tattooing is a creative medium that offers limitless creative freedom. Techniques like blackwork, dotwork, and geometric designs are examples of this. Keep an open mind, experiment with these looks, and don't be scared to combine different elements to create your own distinctive tattoo style. Trends in tattoo art change over time, impacted by changes in pop culture, fashion, and society. Though embrace these trends as a source of inspiration, keep in mind that many ink fans still have a particular place in their hearts for timeless classics. Tattooing offers you a plethora of options for expressing your artistic side, which is what makes it so beautiful.

The Art of Customization

The art of customization is at the core of tattooing's allure and individuality. As you embark on your journey as a tattoo beginner, you'll discover that tattoos are not merely ink on skin; they are profound expressions of personal stories, beliefs, and emotions. Customization is the key to transforming a simple design into a deeply meaningful piece of art. Your ability to tailor a tattoo to your client's vision or express your unique creativity is what sets you apart as a tattoo artist.


Whether it's crafting a bespoke design that tells a client's life story or infusing your signature style into every stroke, customization is where artistry truly shines. It's a delicate dance between the artist's skill and the client's desires, resulting in a tattoo that resonates on a deeply personal level. So, embrace the art of customization with an open heart and a keen eye, for it is here that the magic of tattooing truly comes to life.

Create a Portfolio

Build a diverse portfolio showcasing your artwork and tattoo designs. Create a website or use social media platforms to share your work with a wider audience and a physical portfolio to present to potential employers and engaging with potential clients. Building a strong tattoo portfolio is a pivotal step in your journey as a tattoo beginner.


I remember the early days when I started assembling my portfolio piece by piece as I prepared to look for an apprenticeship. It was a labor of love that laid the foundation for my growth as an artist. To begin, focus on honing your skills and diversifying your style. Each tattoo you create is a page in your portfolio and a testament to your evolving expertise. Once you are ready, don't hesitate to seek out willing volunteers or offer discounted tattoos to build your portfolio, as these opportunities are invaluable for gaining experience and showcasing your talent.


Remember that your portfolio is not just a collection of images, it's a reflection of your dedication and passion for the craft. As your portfolio grows, so will your reputation, attracting clients who trust in your abilities to turn their visions into art. So, be patient, persistent, and passionate about portfolio building, for it is the canvas upon which your tattooing career takes shape.

Simulate Real-Life Conditions

To make the practice more realistic, try emulating real-life tattooing conditions. Work on the practice skin at different angles and positions, as you would with an actual client.

Seek Feedback and Critiques

Although you may be learning from home, you can still seek feedback from peers and more experienced artists. Engage in online tattoo communities and forums where you can receive constructive criticism and learn from others.

Never Stop Learning

The learning process doesn't end when you start tattooing from home. Continue to explore new styles, techniques, and trends. Attend virtual workshops and conventions, and remain open to growth and improvement.

Learning tattooing from home using a tattoo starter kit and online resources provides a unique and enriching experience for the tattoo beginner. Embrace this modern approach with passion, dedication, and a thirst for knowledge, and watch your skills as a tattoo artist flourish in the comfort of your own creative space.

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