How to Join Tattoo Lines

A lot of new tattoo artists notice that there are small gaps between where their lines should connect - or that it’s obvious where they’ve picked up their machine in the middle of a line.

These small imperfections take away from the tattoo’s design, making it look amateur. However, if you know the right technique, you can get rid of this problem quickly.

In this article, we’ll be breaking down how to:

  • Make sure corners in your linework connect perfectly
  • Hide areas where you’ve picked up your machine
  • Float the needle so you can always see where your needle is

How to Keep Tattoo Lines Consistent

Where Inconsistencies Happen Most Often

There are three different “types” of places that have this issue of lines not connecting.

1

Corners

One of the places you have to connect lines the most often is in the corners. 

You should never be tattooing a line and then suddenly change direction to create a corner. This can cause extreme damage to the skin. Instead, you’ll want to create two separate lines that meet each other perfectly.

2

Connecting Pieces

Many beginners finish one part of the design, and then when they go to tattoo a different element, there’s a gap between the linework.

3

Long Lines

Being able to tattoo long lines is a skill that comes with time. Until then, you might find that you need to pick up the machine in the middle of a line. Then, when you keep tattooing, there’s a piece of the line that just looks off.

How to Fix Linework and Create “Seamless” Lines

Float the Needle

Floating the tattoo needle
Ride the tube

When it comes to corners and connecting pieces, the reason the gap occurs is because artists are looking at the cartridge instead of the needle.

When they’re looking down at their tattoo machine, it looks like the needle has gotten all the way to the line it needs to join up with. However, they’re actually seeing the edge of the cartridge casing line up with their linework. Remember: there’s a small gap between the outside of the cartridge casing and where the needle is actually making a mark in the skin.

The best way to fix this is to float the needle. This means you leave a small gap of space between the bottom of your cartridge and the skin.

Since the cartridge isn’t pressed up against the skin, it will be easier for you to actually see where the needle is going into the skin. Then, you can make sure your linework is going all the way up to the line it needs to join with.

If you “ride the tube” with the cartridge against the skin, it’s nearly impossible to know that you have lined up your linework perfectly because you can’t see the needle.

Whip Out Your Needle

If you don’t feel comfortable making a line in one solid motion, you can break it up into pieces (this is great for long lines). However, when you come to a stopping point, you don’t want to simply pick the machine up. Instead, whip out your needle like you would if you were whip shading

When you whip out the needle, it stops you from making a solid stopping point. Then, when you’re ready to continue, you can go back just a bit to where you started to whip out. This will let you go back into the skin without it being visible in your linework. 

If you don’t whip the needle out, you’ll see a highly saturated “ball” of ink, which will be noticeable. This can also cause a blowout or extra trauma to the skin.

Pro Tip:

We recommend practicing this “whip out” motion and then continuing your linework as a drill for fake skin. This way, it will become second nature and you won’t have to think about it.

Become a Tattoo Artist With the Artist Accelerator Program

Having a career in tattooing is not only fulfilling, but it’s also the most stable way to make a living as an artist. However, for decades, the process to become a tattoo artist has been notoriously difficult. 

The apprenticeship process requires aspiring tattoo artists to work 50-60 hours a week without pay for 2-4 years. That, combined with the toxic culture of abusing apprentices, makes getting into the industry almost impossible for newcomers. 

That’s why we created the Artist Accelerator Program. Our online course provides a simple, structured way of learning to tattoo that has been proven to work by over 2500 successful students, with many of them having gone on to open their own shops all around the world. 

Inside the program, we’ll take you through every step of the tattooing process in 9 clear, easy-to-follow modules and support you along the way within the Tattooing 101 Mastermind online community.

In the Mastermind group, you’ll collaborate with other students, get answers to your questions, and receive personalized video feedback on your artwork and tattoos from professional tattoo artists. With this friendly community of both new and experienced tattoo artists, you’ll never be stuck again. 

When you join the Artist Accelerator Program, you’ll have instant access to the full course and the Mastermind community, as well as our 30-Day Flash Challenge and recorded interviews with tattoo artists from all over the world. 

Click here to learn more about the Artist Accelerator Program.

Looking for a tattoo apprenticeship?

Tattooing 101's Artist Accelerator 90 day program is the closest thing to a real apprenticeship

  • 500 video modules
  • Professional tattoo artist coaches
  • Private mastermind community
AUTHOR
Nathan Molenaar

Nathan is a licensed professional tattoo artist with over 8 years’ experience working at studios across the globe, including Celebrity Ink, the world's largest tattoo studio chain.

When he's not tattooing, he spends his free time sharing his experience and knowledge with aspiring artists who dream of pursuing a career in the tattooing industry.

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