How to Dilute Tattoo Ink

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Things You'll Need

  • Tattoo ink

  • Clean inkwell cups

  • Distilled water

  • White tattoo ink

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Tattoo ink comes in a variety of colors, but certain pieces may require a custom color or shade of pigment which isn't available. In this case, the tattoo artist may choose to dilute her tattoo ink, creating a lighter or more delicate shade of a color. For sanitary and hygiene reasons, dilute tattoo ink only with a sterile product and using sterile tools and materials.


Step 1

Lay out several fresh, disposable inkwell cups. Fill these cups with a small amount of the full strength tattoo ink. The more ink in the cup, the less dilution will be possible.

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Step 2

Add a small amount of distilled water to the ink and stir. This will create a diluted ink solution which is runnier. This technique is often used with black ink as it creates subtle gradations of watery gray shades.

Step 3

Add a drop or two of white tattoo ink to any shades that you wish to lighten without changing the consistency. This method creates a lighter color. Be sure that you have created enough of the custom dilution to see through the completion of the design, as remixing shades can have uneven results.


Dilution of tattoo ink is not an exact science. The strength of the resulting ink may vary based on the initial tattoo ink used.


Tattoos should only be performed by a licensed professional tattoo artist and should not be attempted by anyone without these qualifications.


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