How to Transfer Tattoo Designs Onto Your Skin

eHow may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story. Learn more about our affiliate and product review process here.

Things You'll Need

  • Ballpoint pen

  • Carbon paper

  • Paperclips

  • Paper

  • Antiseptic

  • Disposable razor

  • Design

  • Roll-on deodorant

  • Alcohol

  • Scissors

With practice, your transferred designs can look exactly how you want them to.

Tattoo artists create intricate artwork on skin, accurately and to scale, by transferring a guide, traced from the original design, applied to the body. Transferring a tattoo design is considered one of the most important steps of the tattooing process. A skilled artist, using a transfer, can make sure your tattoo looks exactly the way you want it.


Step 1

Choose a design, based on personal preferences, to be inked by a tattoo artist. Selecting a design or artwork in advance, with clear line art, will help the artist create a higher-quality transfer and reduce waiting time. Schedule appointments in advance to allow sufficient time for the artist to do good work.

Video of the Day

Step 2

Place a piece of paper on a dry, clean table or counter top. Place a sheet of carbon paper, ink side down, atop the blank piece of paper, and place the design on top of that. Fasten all three sheets together with paperclips. Check the positions of each layer to be sure the design will be centered on the blank paper, to avoid creating an incomplete copy.


Step 3

Trace the line art of the design using the ballpoint pen. Avoiding adding any shading, to prevent mistakes when inking the tattoo. Remove the paperclips and inspect the copy for any marks or inaccuracies that will compromise the final product. Use the scissors to trim and remove excess paper around the design.


Step 4

Use the disposable razor to shave the patch of skin the design will be transferred to and wipe the shaved skin with alcohol or other disinfectant. Wait for the skin to dry, and apply the rollon deodorant liberally to the area. Discard the razor and deodorant to avoid infection.

Step 5

Press the carbon-copied design, with the ink side facing the skin, against the body for several minutes. Peel the paper off in a fluid motion from one side to the other. Check the placement and clarity of the transfer. Correct any mistakes or botched transfers by removing the design with alcohol and applying a new transfer.


Always wear latex gloves when working on another person's body, to prevent the transfer of germs and reduce the risk of infections.

Avoid amateur tattoo artists practicing without licenses, commonly referred to as scratchers, to prevent infections from improperly cleaned needles.

Copies using this method will result in the design's being mirrored. Make the appropriate adjustments to ensure the design will be transferred properly.


Video of the Day


Report an Issue

screenshot of the current page

Screenshot loading...