5 Free Tattoo Classes | Mastering Basics

For aspiring artists looking for lessons in the fundamentals of tattooing...you’re in the right place.

In these five tattoo training videos, our Lead Instructor Nathan will cover how to draw and stencil designs as well as how to line, shade, and color your tattoos. These are the foundational skills you need to become a successful tattoo artist, and the better you are at them, the more success you’ll see as you move forward in your career.

In these tattoo classes, we’re breaking down all the skills you need to:

  • Draw tattoo designs
  • Stencil your design
  • Line your tattoos in one pass
  • Shade like a professional
  • Pack color without chewing out the skin

Lesson One | How to Draw like a Tattoo Artist

In this class, we’ll dive into how to draw tattoos. You cannot tattoo better than you can draw, so the more you sharpen your drawing skills, the easier and faster it will be to learn tattooing.

What You’ll Learn:

By the end of the video, you’ll know which tattoo styles we recommend practicing to build your art skills fast, how to draw in layers, and how to develop your own style.

Helpful files for this mini course:

  1. 1
    Drawing Batches Excel Sheet
  2. 2
    Body Part Templates

Learn More:

tattoo artist reference for flow lines
horse and flower body art
traditional tattoo body art

Discover how to create designs that fit and flow with the body.

Tattoo Practice Drawings

Learn to work with curved surfaces to design for the body.

Here’s how to find great tattoo reference photos, pick colors that look good together, create stencils on Photoshop, and more.

Learn More:

tattoo artist reference for flow lines

Discover how to create designs that fit and flow with the body.

horse and flower body art

Tattoo Practice Drawings

Learn to work with curved surfaces to design for the body.

traditional tattoo body art

Here’s how to find great tattoo reference photos, pick colors that look good together, create stencils on Photoshop, and more.

Learn More:

tattoo artist reference for flow lines
horse and flower body art
traditional tattoo body art

Discover how to create designs that fit and flow with the body.

Tattoo Practice Drawings

Learn to work with curved surfaces to design for the body.

Here’s how to find great tattoo reference photos, pick colors that look good together, create stencils on Photoshop, and more.

Lesson Two | How to Stencil by Hand

Your stencil is your roadmap while you’re tattooing. Without a solid stencil, it’s nearly impossible to create a tattoo that looks the way you want. 

What You’ll Learn:

In this class, you’ll learn how to use thermal stencil paper, how to create perfect circles and straight lines for your stencils, as well as why line weight is important to your stencil. 

Learn More:

how tattoo artists use stencils on human skin
micron pens for tattoo school students
complete body art kit for tattoo school students

Great line work starts with a strong stencil. Here’s how to create stencils...and how to make sure they stick. 

We’ve listed out all the art materials you need to make great stencils and designs, as well as our recommended brands (and their prices). 

Need to stock up on all your tattooing materials before diving in? Here’s our recommended (and not recommended) kits you can buy online.

Learn More:

how tattoo artists use stencils on human skin
micron pens for tattoo school students
complete body art kit for tattoo school students

Great line work starts with a strong stencil. Here’s how to create stencils...and how to make sure they stick. 

We’ve listed out all the art materials you need to make great stencils and designs, as well as our recommended brands (and their prices). 

Need to stock up on all your tattooing materials before diving in? Here’s our recommended (and not recommended) kits you can buy online.

Learn More:

how tattoo artists use stencils on human skin

Great line work starts with a strong stencil. Here’s how to create stencils...and how to make sure they stick. 

micron pens for tattoo school students

We’ve listed out all the art materials you need to make great stencils and designs, as well as our recommended brands (and their prices). 

complete body art kit for tattoo school students

Need to stock up on all your tattooing materials before diving in? Here’s our recommended (and not recommended) kits you can buy online.

Lesson Three | How to Line

Lining is the first technique every tattoo artist learns. You need crisp lines to create easy-to-read, professional tattoos. 

What You’ll Learn:

In this class, our Lead Instructor will talk you through how to hold your machine, avoid blowouts, stop shakes, and hit the perfect needle depth..

Helpful files for this mini course:

Learn More:

body art design by tattoo artist
 tattoo machine stroke

Get an overview on all things tattooing, as well as a crash course on lining and needle depth.

Troubleshoot common lining issues and learn the best techniques for sharp points and crisp lines.

Learn how to adjust your machine for lining and shading - and why machine stroke is so important to applying quality tattoos.

Learn More:

body art design by tattoo artist

Get an overview on all things tattooing, as well as a crash course on lining and needle depth.

Troubleshoot common lining issues and learn the best techniques for sharp points and crisp lines.

 tattoo machine stroke

Learn how to adjust your machine for lining and shading - and why machine stroke is so important to applying quality tattoos.

Learn More:

body art design by tattoo artist
 tattoo machine stroke

Get an overview on all things tattooing, as well as a crash course on lining and needle depth.

Troubleshoot common lining issues and learn the best techniques for sharp points and crisp lines.

Learn how to adjust your machine for lining and shading - and why machine stroke is so important to applying quality tattoos.

Lesson Four | How to Shade

Shading is what creates contrast in a tattoo, giving your design depth. Without proper shading, tattoos won’t stand out on the skin.

What You’ll Learn:

In this class, you’ll learn different shading techniques, which needles to use, and how to get black and gray to look soft and smooth.

Learn More:

realistic body art on human skin
tattooing technique for tattoo school students
magnum tattoo needle

A tattoo workshop of its own, this article will walk you through each of the techniques you need to create a solid tattoo. 

Learn which needles to use (and when), as well as whip shading, pendulum shading, and packing. 

Different types of shading call for different needle configurations…and learning when to use each grouping is an important part of tattooing great designs.

Learn More:

realistic body art on human skin

A tattoo workshop of its own, this article will walk you through each of the techniques you need to create a solid tattoo. 

tattooing technique for tattoo school students

Learn which needles to use (and when), as well as whip shading, pendulum shading, and packing. 

magnum tattoo needle

Different types of shading call for different needle configurations…and learning when to use each grouping is an important part of tattooing great designs.

Learn More:

realistic body art on human skin
tattooing technique for tattoo school students
magnum tattoo needle

A tattoo workshop of its own, this article will walk you through each of the techniques you need to create a solid tattoo. 

Learn which needles to use (and when), as well as whip shading, pendulum shading, and packing. 

Different types of shading call for different needle configurations…and learning when to use each grouping is an important part of tattooing great designs.

Lesson Five | How to Color

Color tattoos are incredibly popular, but they can be easy to mess up if you aren’t sure how to use different inks together to color in a design. 

What You’ll Learn:

In this video, you’ll learn how to blend, pack, and layer colors correctly so your tattoos look bright and vibrant instead of “muddy.”

Learn More:

zombie body art by professional tattoo artist
blood borne pathogens training

Find out what’s in ink, which health concerns to look out for, and our instructors’ favorite brands.

Discover favorite styles in the tattoo industry, as well as our best tips for doing them yourself.

Learn the stages of developing flash designs and get 25 of our free designs you can use right away.

Most state requirements for tattoo artists include getting your BBP certification. Before you tattoo human skin or work in a tattoo shop, you’ll need to attend a BBP education course either online or in person.

Learn More:

zombie body art by professional tattoo artist
blood borne pathogens training

Find out what’s in ink, which health concerns to look out for, and our instructors’ favorite brands.

Discover favorite styles in the tattoo industry, as well as our best tips for doing them yourself.

Learn the stages of developing flash designs and get 25 of our free designs you can use right away.

Most state requirements for tattoo artists include getting your BBP certification. Before you tattoo human skin or work in a tattoo shop, you’ll need to attend a BBP education course either online or in person.

Learn More:

Find out what’s in ink, which health concerns to look out for, and our instructors’ favorite brands.

zombie body art by professional tattoo artist

Discover favorite styles in the tattoo industry, as well as our best tips for doing them yourself.

Learn the stages of developing flash designs and get 25 of our free designs you can use right away.

blood borne pathogens training

Most state requirements for tattoo artists include getting your BBP certification. Before you tattoo human skin or work in a tattoo shop, you’ll need to attend a BBP education course either online or in person.

Pro Tip:

Looking for more YouTube videos about becoming a professional tattoo artist, the tattoo industry, and additional training? Check out the Tattooing 101 YouTube Channel.

Learn From Professional Tattoo Artist Instructors

professional tattoo artist showing how to develop a tattoo design
master tattoo institute alternative
tattoo apprenticeship program alternative
Ready to move past the basics? We’ve got you covered.
The Artist Accelerator breaks down everything you need to know to become a tattoo artist into 9 easy-to-follow steps. You’ll learn advanced techniques as well as how to design digitally, prepare your portfolio, work with clients, and more. 
Even though our tattoo course is the world’s largest and most comprehensive, we don’t leave you to figure it out alone. When you enroll, you’ll also receive instant access to the Tattooing 101 Mastermind group. Inside, you’ll get support from other students, get answers to all your questions, receive feedback on your work from professional tattoo artists, and more. 
Our 9-step system combined with our thriving online community has allowed us to help over 2500 students break into the tattooing industry worldwide, with several of them having opened up their own shops. 
If you want to use the process so you can see your own success…

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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