Inspect your Needle
An important step before you use any needle on your client is to inspect the needles to ensure there are no defects, such as hooks or barbs. I use a 10x jewelers loupe to be able to see up close.
Insert, Twist & Lock
Just simply insert your needle cartridges into your machine, twist and lock it in place.
You want to make sure your needle tip only overhangs about 2-3mm (about the width of a dime) from the tube chamber. This will allow you to see the tip of the needle clearly. This is called ‘needle hang’.
You’ll have to adjust the needle hang to help with pigment flow. If the needle is extended out too far, it may not pick up enough color from the tip as the needle retracts. If the needle is not extended far enough, it’s difficult to see the tip of the needle and the ink may puddle as you work.
Remember, when tattooing, you should only be working off the tip(s) of the needle, not pressing the needle into the skin.
Extend needle 2-3mm from the tube chamber
Fill Tube Chamber with Ink
Turn on your machine and dip the needle into the ink and wait for the needle to fill the tube chamber with ink. You don’t want to just quickly dip the needle in, otherwise it won’t gather enough ink to work into the skin. Be sure to not hit the bottom of your pigment cup when re-filling to avoid potentially damaging the needle.
Let the chamber fill with ink
Allow The Ink to Slide Down Needle
If you look closely you'll see ink has gathered at the tip of the tube. This is what you want. While you are working, this ink will slide down the needle and drop down onto the skin so that you can tattoo with that ink. This is similar to allowing the pigment to drop off of a microblading and then make your stroke. You always want to drop the ink onto the skin first so you are not tattooing with a dry needle.
Ink is in the chamber and at the tip of the tube
Wipe Needle to Prevent Drying
Always make sure you wipe your needle frequently to prevent it from drying up. It is very important to keep your needle clean and free of ink buildup so it doesn’t get clogged up and block smooth ink flow and impair visibility from a clogged needle head. Pro Tip: You can clean your needle tips by running and dipping them into a cup of sterile water kept at your station or by constantly wiping them into cotton/gauze.
Three Point Stretch
Maintaining a three point stretch at all times is a very important step to achieving good pigment retention and smooth lines. If you do not have a good stretch, the needle will bounce off the skin therefore not depositing the ink into the skin. It will always leave you with uneven lines. It’s like putting on liquid eyeliner - if the skin is not flat, you will have an uneven, dotted line.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Latex, paper, balloons or fruits...no matter the practice medium you use, practicing your designs and techniques is an important part of growing as an artist. Test out new techniques, styles or designs and let your imagination run free.
Let your art flow!