Having to go back over lines - How to get single pass black lines?


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Kellalizard

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Hi, I've been tattooing for a fair few months now and I'm now onto people. I'm quite comfortable shading and packing colour/black and grey but I'm finding lining very difficult. I would consider myself a realism artist but I want to incorporate linework into my designs to help them hold up and also give some extra visual interest.

I had some extra money after my old job closed down so I thought go big or go home and I bought a Spektra Xion. I absolutely love it, I did tonnes of research into the style I eventually want to pursue but I feel like something isn't quite right for lining.

On a side note, I'd just like to say my clients have all healed really well, maybe a bit of fall out now and again but uncommon. No scarring or blow outs etc, what I would consider more serious healing issues.

But I feel like I always have to line twice, or sometimes I get lines whereby you can almost see every individual needle rather than one thick solid line. I tend to line at the smaller to medium end, 3rl-9rl is my norm, and I'm trying to use good quality needles such as Kwadron and TatSoul Envy 2. I also use TrueGent.
I always check my needles before tattooing and haven't found them to be a problem by eye (too far spread out etc).

I've tried checking my needle depth (I think it's good for the most part, and my mentor also seems to think so, personally maybe I think I'm a little light at times and that could be the reason?), my voltage, I've tried both riding the tube and floating the needle, I've tried different needle configs, brands and also trying to stretch as much as I can. I've also tried checking the angle in which I hold my machine. I didn't really experience this on fake skin, as I find tiny little texture doesn't really show up on it, so I'm not getting that individual line thing going.

Is there anything else I've missed that I could try? Is it just a case that I've been going in too shallow? I've been scared to go deep as I see so many horrible blowouts and scarring online and I would hate to do that to my clients. What mm what is the depth you guys opt for? Let's use arms and legs for reference, as I know depth varies by body placement.

Sorry for the long post but it's the one thing I feel I'm struggling with and I personally feel it's the most important. My tattoos end up looking fine in the end, and heal really well, but being a beginner I always check up with my clients after it's healed, and I'd like to try and get it down first time so I don't have to waste money on a second free session using more needles etc. It doesn't always end up I have to touch up but obviously I'd like to avoid it where needed.
 

MalligaMallan

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Hi Kelly and welcome to the forum! ?

1. Mentor you say. Are you an apprentice?

2. Would be great with some photos of your work. It's so much easier to give some adequate feedback. You're not a premium member so you can't post photos, but you can use ie Flickr and such.

3. I don't know how Xion works for lining, but I used to have a FKirons Halo2. GREAT for shading, not so much for lining. I also prefer smaller needle groupings, I rarely use bigger than single needle or tight 3rl. I think some people on here have Xion, they can tell you more about it. Jerry7297 ?

4. As you say you got a pretty good hang of shading, I think the big risk for you it's not scarring and blowouts. People who likes or are good at shading are usually more soft handed (like myself). The risk is rather exactly what you're experiencing, namely weak lines and ink falling out when healing (my problems too).

I myself struggle with going slower, not really deeper. I can't tell if you need one of those things or both. Raising your volts is an alternative.

If you have adjustable give on the Xion, you should screw it in completely, to no give (or maybe just a tad out. I don't know the truth in it, but I saw a video once where they suggested that, to imitate the natural back of the needle does on a coil when hitting the skin. And the reason was to avoid the "too hard" hit you get on a rotary. That's what causing the bigger risk for blow outs with rotaries compared to coils.)

Stretching is usually something us shaders also do too soft ? That can certainly be a contributing factor to your weak lines.

So what it comes down to in the end is - speed, depth, stretch. One or all of those things you have to experiment with to get better lines ?
 

Kellalizard

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Hi Kelly and welcome to the forum! ?

1. Mentor you say. Are you an apprentice?

2. Would be great with some photos of your work. It's so much easier to give some adequate feedback. You're not a premium member so you can't post photos, but you can use ie Flickr and such.

3. I don't know how Xion works for lining, but I used to have a FKirons Halo2. GREAT for shading, not so much for lining. I also prefer smaller needle groupings, I rarely use bigger than single needle or tight 3rl. I think some people on here have Xion, they can tell you more about it. Jerry7297 ?

4. As you say you got a pretty good hang of shading, I think the big risk for you it's not scarring and blowouts. People who likes or are good at shading are usually more soft handed (like myself). The risk is rather exactly what you're experiencing, namely weak lines and ink falling out when healing (my problems too).

I myself struggle with going slower, not really deeper. I can't tell if you need one of those things or both. Raising your volts is an alternative.

If you have adjustable give on the Xion, you should screw it in completely, to no give (or maybe just a tad out. I don't know the truth in it, but I saw a video once where they suggested that, to imitate the natural back of the needle does on a coil when hitting the skin. And the reason was to avoid the "too hard" hit you get on a rotary. That's what causing the bigger risk for blow outs with rotaries compared to coils.)

Stretching is usually something us shaders also do too soft ? That can certainly be a contributing factor to your weak lines.

So what it comes down to in the end is - speed, depth, stretch. One or all of those things you have to experiment with to get better lines ?
Merry Christmas and thank you for taking the time to comment!
I've been apprenticing since around June, I have a few photos on my Instagram but I'm not sure they'd help as obviously I've gone over the lines probably twice to achieve what I've achieved so they don't look altogether too bad. I have a client after Christmas so I'll take some photos of my first pass and post them here if I'm still having problems.

I absolutely agree with what you've said about going slower. I know a lot of people like to go super slow with their lines as it helps keep them steadier, but for me, I find the opposite is applicable. I much prefer lining with wrist movements over arm movements (my lines come out worse even with a bit of Inkeeze on the back of my hand - much smoother with wrist) and I prefer floating the needle. I feel steadier when I go faster, but my machine is only recommended up to 9v. I think I'm just scared of going too deep? On top of talking to my mentor, we often watch Youtube videos together in the studio when we have a spare minute and I feel like the people we watch hardly go into the skin at all!

I've noticed I prefer to pull lines rather than push them, I know plenty of people say to push lines so I think I'm going to practice that a bit more.
After reading around on here a little bit, I read a few times that the needle can wobble in the back of the cartridge. Should I Maybe try reversing my cartridge so the open end is at the back, towards my body, and try to pull that way?

It's interesting what you say about the give, as the Xion does indeed have a give adjustment, I usually use it to the middle or towards the hard end. I assumed that would be better for lining as it "punches" the skin a bit more. Is this not the case? Should I try on the softer end?

Thanks again and have a great Christmas break!
 

Chustik

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Xion from what i've heard from friends is a real good shader, not as good of a liner but dont let that hold you back! Try it with the harrdest hit for linning.

Sounds like you are having a speed issue to me. Either slow down or get a speed liner if you cant get the hang of that. Linning with a pen is very slow, take your time :)
 

P$ Productions

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I agree with Chustik, slow down!

I have a very similar issue if I go too quickly with my Axys Valhalla pen, but I find that if I adjust the stroke to a larger setting, change my voltage to maybe 7-8, and move very slowly, I get nice solid lines.

Try to practice working slowly and I'll bet you'll be successful.

Merry Christmas! Cant wait to see your work. (Premium is rather cheap. A one time payment of like $15 USD and you get access to so much more and can post photos!)

Paige
 

MalligaMallan

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I agree with the others, slow down ? You say you prefer the speed of your hand you use now, but lines are weak. And you can't raise the volts as I understand it (not much more anyway) due to recommendations of the machine being max 9 volts. So there's pretty no other alternative than to adapt ?‍♀️

Just want to add that I recommended NO give for lining, nothing else! Or maybe just a liiiittle bit give, but definitely not much give ?

And yes, about moving your hand from from wrist - that works for shorter lines. When doing longer lines you must use your arm. You'll discover that eventually, if you haven't already ?
 
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Dzikichrzan

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However i found 3.7 stroke too hard for lining. I mean it punches hard and my hand is too slow i guess that few blow outs happen to me :)
 

79josh81

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Why do you need to have single pass lines? The best advice the guy who’s been apprenticing me said was the same thing I just asked you. When my mentor told me that, everything changed for me. You don’t need to have single pass lines. It took a ton of pressure off me and made my line work so much better. As long as you’re hitting light enough with your first pass, you can go over it again. And AGAIN if you still haven’t beat up the skin too much. Everyone gets this idea in their head that every successful tattoo artist drops single pass lines and that’s the only way to do it. I’ve been watching the guys at the shop I’m at for months and if they get the “single pass line” that’s great. If not, they just go over it again. Take that pressure of yourself and stop buying into all of the bullshit you hear in YouTube videos.
 

79josh81

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The guy who’s apprenticing me has a super light hand. He basically goes over his stencil super light and then just goes over it again where he needs to. If you put pressure on yourself to lay every line in one pass, you’re going to go slower than you need to and deeper than you need to to make sure you get your lines in one pass and then you’re going to end up scarring people up. Just lightly hit the skin and make multiple passes until you get a feel for. Then stat trying to lay one pass lines.
 

Dazza

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You are right about the volts limit of 9.5 , but I saw a youtube by the fk irons boss and he said if you need to run the xion at 10-11 that would be ok , on the motor , I find it lines best around 10 volts and one click of give ,a lot of artist say that having give on the machine makes them line better as you sort of get a double hit
 

Kellalizard

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The guy who’s apprenticing me has a super light hand. He basically goes over his stencil super light and then just goes over it again where he needs to. If you put pressure on yourself to lay every line in one pass, you’re going to go slower than you need to and deeper than you need to to make sure you get your lines in one pass and then you’re going to end up scarring people up. Just lightly hit the skin and make multiple passes until you get a feel for. Then stat trying to lay one pass lines.
Josh, thank you so, so much. I have a mentor but I joined the forum as I wanted to gather more experience and advice from as many other tattooers as I possibly could.
I was actually put off joining for a while as I see such horrible, snidey comments on YouTube and other areas online from Tattoo Artists that think it's their way or no way.
As I said in my original post, my tattoos always heal well, but I see so many conflicting comments and techniques online that tell each other they're wrong, and single pass seems to be the "way to go".

I'm so grateful for everyone here that's left a comment and I will take everyone's thoughts into consideration but I especially had to thank you Josh because you've given me a bit more confidence back after me thinking I was "wrong". The longevity and healing of my tattoos is my priority and I never understood the problem with my technique if my clients heal well? Maybe there isn't a problem after all?

I can't wait to get back to tattooing and practicing as much as possible to settle into what works for me. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas.
 

Kellalizard

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You are right about the volts limit of 9.5 , but I saw a youtube by the fk irons boss and he said if you need to run the xion at 10-11 that would be ok , on the motor , I find it lines best around 10 volts and one click of give ,a lot of artist say that having give on the machine makes them line better as you sort of get a double hit
Thank you Dazza. By one click, do you mean one click from all the way off? Or one click from middle? I've watched a few FK Irons videos and they described the give as though max equals more punch and all the way off equals a softer hit, which I assumed would be worse for lining. Maybe I'll try and switch it up and see how I get on!
 

Kellalizard

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Xion from what i've heard from friends is a real good shader, not as good of a liner but dont let that hold you back! Try it with the harrdest hit for linning.

Sounds like you are having a speed issue to me. Either slow down or get a speed liner if you cant get the hang of that. Linning with a pen is very slow, take your time :)
Thank you for your comment Chustik! I'm a fairly quick handed, gentle handed person so I'm really trying to slow down a little but I'm scared of wobbly lines. I'm going to give myself some exercises on paper with weighted pencils and over time hopefully I can steady my hand a bit better so I'm more comfortable at slower speeds.
 

MalligaMallan

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Just wanted to add - when talking about long lines, and also about single pass or not : The reason it's not possible to do long lines with your wrist is that the length of the hand isn't long enough, and the line would get curved. When using your arm you have more control.

BUT - using your arm when tattooing takes practice. I didn't do that at all the first couple of years I tattooed. In fact I didn't do any lines in one, long tattooed line, I always did them in many extremely short lines. And still do. Lately I've felt that stopping me though, and now that I feel more secure when tattooing it feels more possible to start experimenting with doing long lines and using my arm - and also trying to do them in one pass. Not because that's the way it "should" be, but because it feels more convenient.

This is a good video about doing a long line in many short lines (I do much shorter lines too to make one long line, like 1cm max at a time):

 

DKJ

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Kelly, you have to see it that way: no matter how, if the result is good and long lasting, the job is done.

We all have our preferencies, our assets and weakness, and we work with that.
Do you prefer a 10 hours long tatto for a great result or a 3 h one with a bad look and another session of 3h to try to fix it (if possible)?

With time and experience, we'll ultimatly work all the aspects of tattooing. Let's take our time, all roads lead to Rome.

Peace,

DKJ
 

Kellalizard

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Kelly, you have to see it that way: no matter how, if the result is good and long lasting, the job is done.

We all have our preferencies, our assets and weakness, and we work with that.
Do you prefer a 10 hours long tatto for a great result or a 3 h one with a bad look and another session of 3h to try to fix it (if possible)?

With time and experience, we'll ultimatly work all the aspects of tattooing. Let's take our time, all roads lead to Rome.

Peace,

DKJ
Thank you. I'm a bit of a perfectionist with my artwork and it's carrying over to tattooing so I think I'm definitely putting too much pressure on myself. I tattoo full days for tattoos that should only take 2-3 hours, and then I always check in with my clients 2-3 weeks later so I can have a look at it healing, I feel it helps me learn. I occasionally touch up on those days but not often. This thread has given me a bit more confidence that I'm doing well. I appreciate it. I'll upload a few photos of my tattoos in the future!
 

Kellalizard

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Just wanted to add - when talking about long lines, and also about single pass or not : The reason it's not possible to do long lines with your wrist is that the length of the hand isn't long enough, and the line would get curved. When using your arm you have more control.

BUT - using your arm when tattooing takes practice. I didn't do that at all the first couple of years I tattooed. In fact I didn't do any lines in one, long tattooed line, I always did them in many extremely short lines. And still do. Lately I've felt that stopping me though, and now that I feel more secure when tattooing it feels more possible to start experimenting with doing long lines and using my arm - and also trying to do them in one pass. Not because that's the way it "should" be, but because it feels more convenient.

This is a good video about doing a long line in many short lines (I do much shorter lines too to make one long line, like 1cm max at a time):

Thank you, that's encouraging to know that I'll eventually get the hand of using my arm to shoulder to tattoo in the future. I guess every aspect comes with practice. I'll watch the video tomorrow when I'm back in the studio (it's 1am here).
 

DKJ

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my opinion only but I really can’t see the point in lining like that, it takes longer and the line could look scratchy with the stop starting of lines, when I was learning my objective was to always line similar to this guy:

to me his line work is how it should be done ?
Let's try to keep her on a safe way, she'll get there soon enough.

I don't know when you get pro: in the eyes of other pros, or in the eyes of your clients ?

Juss sayin', tattooing is a life long practice.

(This is NOT an excuse for my shitty tattoos, lol)

Peace,

DKJ
 

MalligaMallan

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my opinion only but I really can’t see the point in lining like that, it takes longer and the line could look scratchy with the stop starting of lines, when I was learning my objective was to always line similar to this guy:

to me his line work is how it should be done ?

Yeah Andy, that's great, his technique is breathtaking ⭐ But I'm not that good ?
 

KyleBl4ck

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This video should help a bit on why the Xion isn't hitting as hard as it should.
Also depth + handspeed and machine voltage are key to successful lines.


I've been using a Xion for 2 years now and absolutely love mine. I'm planning on getting another one this week actually.

I run my Xion anywhere from 9 volts to 10.4 nowadays and set it to all the way towards H but I have a pretty quick hand movement. Most people I know set it 2 away from H and run around 9.

If you have any pictures of your work I'd definitely be willing to give some suggestions or questions, feel free to ask. Im not pro level by any means but I'm always down to help people get better.
 

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