If you’re thinking about starting to tattoo, you’ll need to know how to use a tattoo gun. This guide will show you everything you need to get started. From what kind of machine you’ll need, to how to load the ink, and how to hold the gun, we’ll cover everything you need to know to get started.

Step-by-step Tattoo Gun Setup

Step-by-step Tattoo Gun Setup

What you need to know

It is crucial to understand how to build and tune a tattoo machine if you are just starting out as a tattoo artist and are unfamiliar with this type of body art. This way, your machine won’t break down on you in the middle of a job.

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Knowing your kit, understanding the distinctions between coil and rotary tattoo machines, and knowing the differences between liner and shader guns can help you set up your tattoo gun correctly. You will be able to rapidly understand the entire setup process if you are familiar with machine mechanics and fundamental operating concepts.

However, typical setup procedures are very much the same and involve a number of steps whether you’ve picked a more well-liked coil tattoo machine or have a rotary tattoo machine.

Assembling all the components that are required. Set up all the components that your tattoo gun will require to be assembled and used.

A power supply unit with a clip cable, a foot pedal to activate and terminate the current, tattoo needles, an armature bar (this is especially useful for beginners to draw perfect lines), ink caps, and inks themselves are other items you should always have on hand.

Notably, if you’re a beginner, you might purchase a starter kit that typically includes everything you need. Alternatively, you can purchase those auxiliary parts separately to obtain higher-quality and more durable individual pieces.

Making the needles ready. It is crucial to select the right needle size and type for the task at hand if you want to get the desired results.

Setting up the power source. The power unit needs to be examined and attached to the gun properly for flawless machine performance.

Building the apparatus. It is crucial to adhere to specific assembly instructions and double-check the assembly at the end of the assembly process in order to operate safely and prevent any unintended mistakes or injuries.

Getting Tattoo Needles Ready

Getting Tattoo Needles Ready

To begin with, the type and size of needle you require depends on the intended task. The needles’ diameter and taper length vary in terms of their physical characteristics. You will have more control over the ink flow the smaller the diameter. So, while wider needles are utilized for spreading and shading, finer needles are perfect for intricate work and exact lines.

On the other side, the taper or point length reveals how deeply the needle will penetrate the skin. Additionally, the needles can be purchased individually or in bundles. For large-scale work, thicker lines, or coloring, the bundles may contain two to seven needles—or even more—arranged in rows or circles.

The two main categories of tattoo needle combinations are liners and shaders. As their names imply, liners are used to draw the outline of the tattoo design, while shaders are used to fill, color, and shade the design.

Both variants consist of a number of needles placed in a row on a single bar. While shaders are arranged adjacent to one another in a straight or curved line, liner needles are positioned closer together to make a circular tip.

Everything is fairly easy to do while preparing a needle for use. The most important thing to examine is sterility. All needles must be pre-sterilized and packaged securely. Another aspect to look at is the condition and quality of the needles.

The needles must be flawlessly smooth and straight. Burs, dull tips, or bent needles are not permitted since they might injure the skin, cause bleeding, or possibly leave scars.

Additionally, the tube where the machine is held and the needle is inserted must be examined. Both autoclaving and disposable tubes are available. To avoid infections and inflammations, use brand-new or fully disinfected equipment each time.

Tattoo Gun Assembly

You can begin the tattoo gun assembly once all machine components have been examined and the appropriate needles have been chosen. However, carefully wash your hands with an antibacterial soap before touching any components.

At least 20 seconds should be spent foaming and scrubbing before rinsing with warm running water. Although a tattoo machine may appear complicated at first glance, it is actually rather easy to assemble. Connecting every component and properly tuning the machine are crucial.

  • First, look underneath it for a contact screw and a front spring. These two spots should be separated by a space that is roughly the thickness of a dime. Your linework will be defined by that, therefore accuracy is essential.
  • The needle should be unpacked and inserted into the tube. To fix the tube and give yourself the chance to spin the needle eye loop to the left, slide the tube into the machine’s tube slot and only slightly tighten the wingnut.
  • To ensure proper needle alignment, place the armature bar nipple in its final position. It’s a crucial element because if it’s done wrong, the needle could traumatize the skin and stop the flow of ink.
  • The distance between the tube tip and the needle should be adjusted. Professionals advise maintaining it at 0.04 to 0.07 inches.
  • Put two rubber bands around the tattoo machine’s coils if you’re using one. This helpful tip will assist you in stabilizing the needle even though it is not required to create cleaner lines.

How to Use a Tattoo Gun: Seven Easy Steps

How to do a tattoo with a tattoo gun

Step 1: Recognize Your Kit

Know your equipment before you start learning how to use a tattoo gun. The fundamental tools in your starting package make for a simple tattooing procedure. The kit includes:

  • Needles for tattoos.
  • Tattoo needle control armaturette bar.
  • Armature bars are controlled by electromagnetic coils.
  • Depending on your tattoo equipment, you may have more than one tattoo gun.
  • Pen tattoos.
  • Ink.
  • Rubber gloves

Step 2: Gather and Arrange Your Tattoo Supplies

As you assemble your kit if this is your first time using a tattoo gun, it’s normal to feel perplexed. Ensure that you have everything you need for a tattoo in front of you.

This enables you to see everything you need and improves the accuracy of your assembly.

Check the tattoo machine first. Underneath it, you’ll discover a contact screw and a front spring. The space between the two ought to be equal to a coin’s thickness.

The space between the two aids in controlling the tattoo lines and producing beautiful tattoos. Bad tattoos result if the distance between the two is incorrect.

The screw drive can be used to increase or reduce the distance between the two, which is the ideal technique to do the correction.

Step 3: Clean and Sterilize the Tattoo Needles

Make sure your tattoo needles are in tip-top shape before using them. Poorly made tattoo needles result in bleeding, scars, and unattractive tattoos. Never make use of them!

Inspecting the needle tube where you will hold the tattoo machine is also important.

Make sure your tattoo needles are disinfected so that they are safe to use. Purchasing an autoclave to aid in cleaning the needles is advised.

Set up your autoclave so that it is prepared for the cleaning procedure. Scrub the tubes and needles with water and soap to prepare them. Allow them to soak in hot, soapy water for a while.

Place the autoclave basket with the tubes and needles inside the autoclave machine at this time. Verify that the water level is between the low and high markers. Then, start the device.

The tubes and needles should be sterilized. They should spend one to two hours in the autoclave machine. Check the machine’s directions, though, for the precise amount of time to sanitize the needles.

Step 4: Assemble Your Tattoo Machine

The needles should be inserted into the tube to begin the assembling process. The slot should easily accommodate the needle.

The armature bar nipple ring should be inserted with the needle’s eye loop twisted to the left. This aids in proper needle insertion. Failure to do so results in painful skin piercings that go unmarked.

The distance between the needle and the needle tube should be set at the proper length. For a secure grip, the screws must be tightened. Allow 0.05 to 0.08 inches between objects.

A rubber band wrapped around the electromagnetic coils is a terrific tip. The needles are stabilized as a result, enabling flawless tattoo application.

Step 5: Connect To The Power Supply

Purchasing a digital or analog power supply is advised. Make sure it is adjusted properly and, depending on your tattoo machine, apply the right voltage.

Your tattoo machine should operate at a voltage of between 4 and 10 volts.

The clip cord and foot switch are additional important components. Your tattoo equipment is connected to the power supply by the clip cord. They ought to be purchased separately from your kit.

Ensure that the clip cable is attached to the tattoo gun’s base. You are now prepared to proceed once you have properly set everything up.

Step 6: Test the Tattoo Machine

Test your tattoo gun after you have adjusted and set all the parts. Before applying it to human skin, test it on the skin of pears, apples, or bananas.

These fruits resemble human flesh in many ways. You can avoid damaging actual skin by doing the test to see if your entire equipment has been put together correctly.

Step 7: Design the Tattoo

Design the Tattoo

Make an outline to help you remain within the lines for a tattoo that looks excellent. The tattoo needle should first be inserted into your skin.

You must tattoo at the proper depth during the procedure. The three layers of human skin should be known to you.

The middle layer, the dermis, should be the intended depth when applying tattoos because this is where the ink flow will stay. Going deeper causes damage to the skin’s deeper layers.

Start moving the pistol down the outline once you have the needle in the proper place. To prevent accidents or injury, move the needle slowly.

The same way you would hold a pen, you should hold the device on the needle tube. Make sure your hand is covered by the tattoo gun.

Since the machine vibrates while you get your tattoos, try to avoid applying excessive pressure and maintain a steady hand position.

Remove any extra ink after the tattoo has been created. Give the tattoo some time to heal so that the inflammation can subside.

How To Put Ink In A Tattoo Machine

How to Put Ink in a Tattoo Gun

Start by donning latex gloves before loading your tattoo gun with ink. Insert the needle, needle tube, and machine into the device. After that, clip the cord and connect the tattoo machine to the power source.

For your tattoo, place the appropriate amount of disposable ink caps. Your tattoo’s basic colors should each have its own unique ink cap. Put ink in the ink caps. Avoid touching the ink cap’s interior or the rim.

For your outline, you should dip the tattoo needle in a solid color. To make the needle enter and exit the needle tube, depress the foot switch on the tattoo machine.

This aids in clearing the tube of extra ink that has clogged it. To prevent dried ink from clogging the tips, remove the extra ink from the bottle now.

It’s important to remember that using unapproved inks can result in skin problems. Some inks can give the skin a rough or scaly appearance.

“This is also due to inflammation and irritation [in response] to the tattoo inks, […] It may even imply infection,” explains Tina Alster, a dermatologist at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Therefore, check to see if the ink has any dangerous components that could injure a person’s skin.


How to use a pen tattoo machine

Is It Difficult To Use A Tattoo Gun?

Tattoo artists utilize a hand-held tool called a tattoo gun, often known as a tattoo machine, to ink people permanently. Although using a tattoo gun requires steady hands and significant concentration, the results may be spectacular. A focus on cleanliness is essential, both for the tattoo artist and the tattoo machine.

What Voltage Do You Tattoo At?

Voltages of 7v to 9v are typically used by most artists for lining (8 should be a suitable starting point) and 8v to 10v for shading.

What Angle Do You Hold A Tattoo Gun?

It’s best to hold your tattoo machine at a typical angle of 45 or 60 degrees when applying tattoo ink to the skin. Box motion can help you hold your rifle for longer. Generally speaking, the box motion is more efficient than circles.

What Is The Normal Speed For A Tattoo Gun?

The rate at which tattoo needles rise and fall varies from 50 to 3,000 times per minute. Depending on the tattoo artist’s requirements and preferences, the price may change. With their tattoo machine, artists can regulate the speed, needle angle, ink colors, and other parts of the procedure.


In conclusion, even if getting a tattoo might seem like something you’ll never be able to do, all you really need is a firm hand and decent, properly set up equipment in practice. You can refine your skills by beginning with some basic graphics and eventually you’ll be able to produce genuine multicolor works of art on the human body.