Have you ever wondered how a tattoo artist turns his awesome design into a tattoo? Well, they do it with transfer paper. The design is drawn on the paper, the paper is then pressed onto your skin to transfer the design, and that’s it. Now your tattoo artist has the exact outline of the design right there on your skin, which they can follow and execute the tattoo down to the most intricate detail.
But, how does it actually work? How is it possible to transfer a design from paper to skin? And, of course, how do you use tattoo transfer paper? If these are the questions that have piqued your interest, then be sure to keep reading. In the following paragraphs we will talk about tattoo transfer paper and try to answer all the questions about how it works and how you can use it! So let’s get started!
Types of Tattoo Transfer Paper
Before discussing the use of tattoo transfer paper, we need to discuss the types of transfer paper that you can use. There are two main types of transfer paper;
- Hectograph or freehand tattoo transfer paper
- Thermographic Tattoo Transfer Paper
Hectograph, also known as freehand transfer paper, is a manual transfer paper. It is similar to carbon copy sheets or sheets used for manual typewriter and works in a similar design. The paper has three sheets and you will draw your design on the top sheet. The middle sheet or the second sheet must be removed before drawing so that the drawing is transferred to the bottom sheet.
The bottom sheet is then used to cut out the design and transfer it to the skin. Before the paper is applied to the skin, the tattoo artist usually prepares the surface of the skin with a solution known as a stencil stay, so that the stencil remains in place and stable while the design is transferred. Then the paper is moistened with a damp sponge, so that the pattern transfers completely. Once the design is transferred, the paper is removed, and that’s it.
Now the thermographic tattoo transfer paper contains four sheets or layers. With this paper, the top layer is where the design will transfer. Then there is a protective sheet which you don’t need (tattoo artists throw it away since it only serves to protect the top layer). And finally there is the purple ink foil layer and the yellow bottom layer meant to hold all the foils in place while one draws the design.
When it comes to drawing the design, it is supposed to be drawn on a plain sheet of paper, which is then placed between the purple and yellow sheets. Then all the sheets are passed through the thermogenic transfer device, which will transfer the design onto the top white sheet, perfectly flawless.
The only thing left to do is place the top sheet on the skin. It is important to press evenly so that the pattern is completely transferred to the skin. Heat transfer paper is a standard in the tattoo industry thanks to the incredibly clear design images and excellent transferability.
So how to use tattoo transfer paper?
For this part we will describe the proper and effective use of thermographic tattoo transfer paper. The reason we decided to focus only on this paper is because this paper is the standard in the tattoo industry. As mentioned earlier, this paper is highly effective, provides the highest quality design impression and exceptional transferability to the skin. So how to use thermographic tattoo transfer paper? Here is a step by step guide:
Step 1 – Creating the design
For this step, you will need a plain white sheet of paper to draw your design on. This is the time for mistakes and improvements in design. Once you’re completely happy with the design, it’s time to move on to the next step. Since the paper will transfer the exact design to be drawn, make sure you are completely happy with the design or you may run into issues later in the process. Take your time and make it perfect!
Step 2 – Place the sheet in the layers of thermographic paper
So, you have created the perfect tattoo design. Now you need to place it in the transfer paper. The goal is to place the design sheet just between the ink layer (purple) and the bottom layer (yellow). This is essential for the proper transfer of the design to the top sheet (which you will use to transfer the design to the skin).
Step 3 – Using the Thermographic Transfer Maker
If you’re not a tattoo artist, chances are you don’t really have a thermographic transfer machine in your household. But, for this to work, you’ll need the maker, not just the transfer paper. Therefore, be sure to check out thermographic transfer makers online, at print shops, or even at some tattoo shops.
We recommend that you check out the Yilong Black tattoo transfer machine that you simply order from Amazon. Thermal copiers and similar transfer machines are available at some print shops, so be sure to check local stores.
Once you’ve got your hands on a good thermographic transfer maker, it’s time to finish the job we started. The main thing you need to do is put all of the aforementioned sheets and put them in the machine. As the maker does their job, they transfer the design from the plain sheet of paper to the top sheet of paper (also called a carbon copy of your design drawing).
Step 4 – Separate the Leaves
Once the machine has finished transferring the design, it’s time to separate the sheets. So the top sheet is the one with the transferred design that you will use for the actual tattoo transfer. Be sure to separate it from the other sheets. Since this is the only sheet you will need, you can discard the remaining sheets.
Step 5 – Design Transfer
Before moving on to the actual transfer of the tattoo, it is essential to first wet the area where you plan to place the outline of the tattoo. Use soapy water to thoroughly wet everything. Once you are done with the cleanse and everything is thoroughly wet, take the design sheet and place it on the skin.
Be sure to move the sheet so that it is not curved and fully on the skin. Press the paper until the design appears on the skin. Be sure to remove the paper carefully, but don’t rush the process; take your time, be patient and be very gentle.
Then lift the sheet, check if the pattern is fully transferred and visible on the skin. If some parts of the drawing are missing, put the sheet back in the same place and press down on the paper. Once everything has been transferred, remove the paper.
And that’s all! You now have the perfect tattoo outline thanks to tattoo transfer paper.
What if I want to use Hectograph transfer paper?
Now that we’ve finished talking about the standard tattoo transfer paper, which is thermographic, we’ve decided to provide a guide for using hectograph transfer paper as well. This paper is known as freehand transfer paper, which means you will draw the tattoo design directly onto the first sheet of hectograph paper (the design will transfer to the bottom sheet). Therefore, here is what you will need to do;
- Hectograph paper has three sheets; remove the middle sheet before you start drawing.
- Draw your design on the top layer of the hectograph sheet.
- The drawing should be copied to the bottom sheet; cut.
- Prepare your skin using the Stencil-Stay solution.
- Place the cut pattern on the skin and moisten it with a sponge.
- Gently lift the paper and check if the design has fully transferred to the skin.
And that’s all. Using hectograph tattoo transfer paper is more cost effective and overall easier. However, the quality of the transferable design may not be as high as with thermographic transfer paper. Nevertheless, since using thermographic paper not only requires the paper but also the thermographic transfer maker, we surely recommend you to go for the hectograph method in case you are in budget saving mode.
What if I don’t like the transferred image?
No matter what transfer paper or method you use, there’s always a chance you won’t like the end result. So what can you do in this case? It’s best to use rubbing alcohol and a cotton ball. Dip the cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and gently wipe off the transferred design. Be sure to repeat the process until the entire design is gone. Then was the skin with a mild soap and let dry. If it’s not irritated or red, you can try repeating the transfer process, or even redo the design from scratch.
Whichever transfer paper you use, the results are quite similar and both work well. We think thermographic transfer paper really is the best option, but since it requires the thermographic transfer maker, it may not be suitable for a cost-effective home tattoo stencil. I hope this guide has given you a chance to try out transfer papers. If you need more information on transfer papers or even the transfer manufacturer, be sure to speak to your tattoo artist.
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