How to Get a Perfect Tattoo Outline

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Things You'll Need

  • Tattoo machine

  • Tattoo needles with varying thickness

  • Black ink

  • Paper towels

  • Alcohol solution

Outlining is the first step in the tattoo process.

Every tattoo begins first with a stencil applied to the skin. Once applied, the very first step in the tattoo process is to outline all the stenciled lines, typically with black ink. This should be done before any shading or colors are incorporated into the design. The most important aspect to keep in mind is comfort. Especially with line work, you must stay in the same position throughout, lest you make uneven and disproportionate lines.


Step 1

Dip the needles into the ink, and absorb enough to make multiple lines.

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Step 2

Hold the tattoo gun at a slight angle, like you would a pencil or pen, and apply pressure to the foot switch, bringing the machine to life.

Step 3

Press the needle tips against the skin, and move your hand along the line. Do not simply move the tattoo gun with your fingers and leave your hand stationary. It is also pertinent that you apply even pressure throughout the line work of the tattoo.

Step 4

Go over each line slowly to minimize the number of times you need to go over it. You are basically tattooing a bunch of dots really close together; if you go too fast there will be gaps and subtle inconsistencies, and you will need to go over the same line multiple times.


Step 5

Pull the needles away from the skin after each line is complete, and relieve pressure from the foot switch to turn it off.

Step 6

Wipe away excess ink and blood from the skin with a paper towel doused in an alcohol solution.

Step 7

Continue the process, evenly and consistently, until complete.


Determine exactly how thick you want all the lines to be before selecting the appropriate needles. The thicker the needles, the thicker the lines will be.


Always sterilize all your tattoo equipment before beginning the tattoo process.


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