Roses are one of the most popular tattoo designs. If you’re new to tattooing, getting the hang of such a popular design will help you prepare for clients faster.
However, if you’re not sure where to put shading and create depth, your design will look flat and won’t stand out on the skin.
To help, in this article, we’ll be covering:
Setup and Equipment
In this tattoo tutorial, Brandon used dark green (Olive by Solid Ink), light green (Mold by Solid Ink), red, pink, black, and gray wash.
We recommend setting up your black and gray wash going from darkest to lightest. That way, your black ink will be on the far right, then your darkest gray wash, until you reach your lightest gray wash. (This keeps you from getting confused while you’re working, since different gray washes look the same when they’re in ink caps.)In the same way, put the color you plan to use first (the darkest color/black ink) on the right and work your way to the lightest color on the left. You should tattoo from darkest to lightest to avoid wiping dark ink over areas of light ink, which will muddy your colors.
Tattoo Machine and Needles
In this video, Brandon used an 11 round liner for the outline of the rose (and a mag needle for shading and color packing). He also used 10 volts and a 4mm stroke machine for lining.
Step 1 | Linework
Always start at the bottom of the design to avoid wiping away your stencil when you’re working at the top of the design.
If you’d like a full tutorial on how to improve your linework, check out our Tattoo Lining Techniques Video.
Remember to practice stretching the skin, even if you’re working on fake skin.
Step 2 | Shading
Once you’ve switched to a mag needle and checked your depth, it’s time to start with whip shading.
The darkest areas of your shading will be where areas overlap. Anything that's underneath something else or in the background will be darker to show depth.
If you want an in-depth look at different shading techniques, check out our “Tattoo Shading Techniques” article.
We recommend using colored pencils and coloring your design first. That way, you know where everything needs to go. Then, when you go to tattoo the design, you already know where to put shading and where your colors go.
Step 3 | Color Packing
Before you start using color ink, you need to get the black ink out of your needle cartridge so you don’t muddy your colors.
To get the ink out, dip the cartridge into a cup of water and brush/wave the needle back and forth to get the residual ink off of it.
You will need to do this with every color.
Because part of the leaves have shading, you’ll want to brush over those areas to transition out from black to dark green.
After you dip in the water and clean out your cartridge, you can move to light green. Because you used a dark green between the black ink and the lighter green, you’ll be able to create a smoother transition between black and lighter tones.
Clean out your needle, and add red ink to the petals.
Clean out your needle, and dip into your pink ink. You can go over some of the red areas with pink to give the petals a bit more definition and show different colors in the flower.
Fake Skin Tip: Cleaning Your Fake Skins
Instead of using just water and soap to clean off your fake skins, the best thing to use is Vaseline. Rub a ton of Vaseline over the fake skin.
Then, take a dry paper towel and wipe off the Vaseline. This will allow you to get any extra ink off the skin and have a clean tattoo.
Learn to Tattoo at Home
While getting the fundamentals of tattooing a rose is important, we’ve only just scratched the surface of what you need to know as a tattoo artist.
In the past, learning to tattoo in an apprenticeship was a full-time, unpaid job, which kept many talented artists locked out of the industry.
Today, full-time teachers, restaurant and construction workers, parents, and more are learning to tattoo at home, on their own time with the Artist Accelerator Program
The program’s easy-to-follow, 9-step framework guides you through all the information you need to know to become a tattoo artist, and our online Mastermind community gives you support and feedback on your art and tattoos from professionals in the industry.
Over 2500 students have used our proven framework to break into the tattoo industry, with many of them leaving their old jobs to tattoo in shops all around the world, or even open up their own studios.
If you want to see the framework they used to get their dream jobs…