Tattoo stencils are used to help a tattoo artist transfer a tattoo design onto the skin and continue tattooing without making mistakes. The stencils are super useful, especially if a tattoo artist is gaining experience and building their skills. When tattoo artists start working at a professional level, freehanding a tattoo is a no-go, that is why tattoo stencils help out a lot.
Many consider tattoo stencils to be a waste of time and not a real form of tattoo art. But, we do need to acknowledge that tattoo stencils make the artist’s work a lot easier. There is a smaller chance of a mistake, and the lining generally turns out excellent.
Now, it is important to mention that professional tattoo artists use pricey and special printers to print out their designs for the tattoo stencil. So, what we’re wondering here is; can you use a regular home or office printer to print out the design, or do you need to invest in a pricey tattoo printer?
If you’re wondering the same, you’re at the right place. So, without further ado, let’s find out whether you can utilize your regular printer to become a tattoo master.
Tattoo Stencils and Printers – Explained
What Is a Tattoo Stencil?
Tattoo stencils, as we mentioned before, are an outline of the tattoo design printed onto thermal paper or hectograph carbon paper. The stencils work as a template for transferring tattoo designs onto the skin. This helps the tattoo artist to create an outline, trace it and do the tattoo without complications or mistakes. Tattoo stencils can also be used to show the client how their tattoo might look on the skin or the place where the client decided to put the tattoo.
What Are Tattoo Stencil Printers?
Prior to stencil printers, tattoo artists only had paper and a pen at their disposal for creating tattoo stencils. This was a time-consuming process and it was truly complicated. But, with the development of technology, tattoo stencil printers became a thing and they took over the tattoo world pretty quickly.
Tattoo stencil printers allow tattoo artists to quickly create and reproduce stencils, which improves the work efficiency and workflow of the tattoo artist. The printer is connected to the computer, where the tattoo artist uses programs like AmazioGraph or Photoshop to create or edit designs.
Compared to regular printers, tattoo stencil printers are smaller and even portable. However, they’re highly functional and provide the tattoo artist with everything they might need. These printers support thermal papers, as well as other types of papers used for creating tattoo stencils.
So, Can I Use a Regular Printer To Create Tattoo Stencils?
If you want to work on your tattooing skills at home, but you don’t want to buy a pricey tattoo stencil printer, there is a cheaper solution. By using the right paper, and your home or office printer, you can create proper tattoo stencils at home.
So, yes, you can use the regular printer to create tattoo stencils. But, you cannot use the regular paper. What you’ll need instead is thermal paper, carbon transfer paper, or even temporary tattoo paper. All of the papers can be used with an inkjet or laser printer, so don’t worry.
Here are the main steps to follow when using the regular printer to create tattoo stencils;
- Step 1 – make sure that the printer is connected to the computer you’ll be using for design creation and printing. If your design is completed, simply open the image.
- Step 2 – Place the tattoo paper into the printer tray (where you’d put the regular paper). Make sure that the paper is position properly, especially if you’re using carbon tattoo paper. The white side of the paper should face the printer head. This is how it will receive the ink and actually print out a design.
- Step 3 – when the printing is done, remove the paper from the printer tray and allow it to dry down completely. This especially applies if you’re using temporary tattoo paper. If you skin this step, chances are that the printed ink might smudge.
- Step 4 – cut out the printed design. Make sure to stay close to the edges of the design, but do not cut into the design. This will make the stencil easier to work with later in the process.
- Step 5 – and here we are, the moment we’ve been waiting for – transferring the design onto the skin. To do this, you can use a stick deodorant. Make sure to apply a thin layer onto the skin, and then place the stencil onto the deodorant. Make sure that the design side is placed down, so it can transfer properly. Press the paper firmly and let it sit for a minute. Then, remove the paper and admire your work.
Note: Bear in mind that there is always a possibility that your particular printer might not be effective using a thermal or hectograph transfer paper.
There are cases where these kinds of papers only much up the printer and completely mess up the design, or don’t even print anything. After all, these papers are designed to only be used by professional thermal printers.
What Is The Difference Between A Professional Stencil Printer And a Regular One?
Now, considering that you can technically create perfectly good tattoo stencils by only using a computer and a home printer, you may be wondering; why do tattoo artists use the expensive thermal tattoo stencil printers?
Well, the main difference between a regular and a thermal stencil printer is the ink. When you use a regular printer, the ink used to print out the design is a regular computer ink. Professional tattoo stencil printers use carbon printer ink, which is more suitable for transferring onto the skin. Basically, the carbon printer ink is most similar, if not the same, to the black tattoo ink.
Thermal stencil printers are also more reliable in terms of printing out the exact same replica of the created design. Regular, home printers might not have the same ability, since there can always be an issue with ink smudging or missing to print out certain parts of a design.
Also, when using thermal or carbon paper with a regular printer, there is a higher chance the paper might crinkle on its way out. In this case, you might have to repeat the printing process, and also waste a sheet of thermal paper.
So, The Main Trick Is In The Paper, Not The Printer?
Even though a professional tattoo stencil printer does a better job at transferring the design onto the paper, the trick is not in the printer you use but in the stencil paper.
As we mentioned before, there are different types of tattoo transfer or stencil papers. If you have a home printer, then all you have to do is choose the stencil paper and create your own tattoo designs at home. But, you also need to learn about these stencil papers, so here’s a quick insight;
- Hectograph transfer paper – this type of paper is used for a freehand design creation, where the tattoo artist does the tracing by hand or by using a dot matrix printer. This is an old-school stencil creation method that is popular even nowadays among professional tattoo artists.
Even though the hectograph transfer paper is more cost-effective, it can quickly turn expensive in case you’re not a professional or experienced in freehanding tattoo designs.
- Thermal paper – this type of paper uses heat to transfer the design from the printer onto the paper. Thermal paper is currently only used by tattoo artists to create tattoo stencils. The reason it is so prevalent in the tattoo industry is that it creates a clear image, and the stencil can be visible on all skin types and tones.
That is because the paper has 4 different layers, allowing deeper preservation of the details and the designs overall. Thermal paper is a standard in the tattoo industry, and every aspiring tattoo artist should learn to work with it.
Hopefully, we’ve provided you with enough information to embark on the journey of tattoo stencil creation on your own. Of course, for more information, you should talk to a professional tattoo artist who is an expert in stencil creation and see which printers provide the best results. Other than this, all you have to do is get your hands on some proper transfer paper and get to work.
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