How Does a Tattoo Stencil Machine Work?

Check it out

New tattoo artists are scared of many different things, and they don’t feel confident when it comes to making a complex tattoo design.

The right equipment and correct operating process can boost up the confidence of making a complex tattoo design.

A professional tattoo artist creates a tattoo stencil before inserting the needle into the skin. Stencils are drawn using special ink that transfers to the skin. A tattoo stencil machine helps to draw an outline so that the tattoo artist can efficiently and quickly accomplish a design.


However, don’t think that working with a tattoo stencil machine is a challenging task. The truth is, with a little practice, you can make the process pretty perfect.


If you are a beginner, this how does a tattoo stencil machine work guide is especially for you.

How Does a Tattoo Stencil Machine Work?

What is a Tattoo Stencil Machine?

Tattoo Stencil Machine

The other name of the tattoo stencil machine is a tattoo transfer machine. If you are looking to create a stencil for your tattoo design, you have to rely on it.


They are built to design a copy that is quite similar to a regular photocopier machine. Instead of using standard A4 paper, they use stencil paper to transfer ink on the skin.


In terms of functionality, they are unique and different from a regular ink printer.


Due to modern technology advancement, the word “tattoo printer” is slowly getting different meanings. Some tattoo stencil models are available in the market, which can transfer tattoo design directly on the skin, making temporary tattoo design. And these machines are also referred to as tattoo machine guns nowadays.

How to Use a Tattoo Stencil Machine?

Tattoo stencil machines have 9 different basic features, which are


  1. Operation panel
  2. Document feeder
  3. Transfer paper input mouth
  4. Transfer paper cover
  5. Power indicator light
  6. Warning light
  7. Document output mouth
  8. Push up to open area
  9. Transfer paper output mouth

As stated earlier, working with a tattoo stencil machine is pretty simple. Below are the most basic steps of using a tattoo stencil machine.

Step 01

Pick a thermal tattoo stencil paper of the excellent tattoo printer paper from your nearest store.

Step 02

Every stencil paper has a protective layer and a yellow layer. Remove them. Then you have only 2 sheets left: the carbon paper and stencil paper.

Step 03

Then flip the push up to your stencil machine’s open area, and thermal tattoo transfer paper needs to be inserted into it. Make sure you followed the correct way of inserting it. The paper should be hanging the attached edge hanging from the outside of the flank, and the other’s stretched part.

Step 04

Switch the tattoo stencil machine on and press the settings button to set the machine to your required settings.

Step 05

Take a print copy of your tattoo design and place it in the slot of the copy. Generally, you will need to put it into the opening flap’s front area. Print at the bottom to help the tattoo stencil machine get all the available details.

Step 06

Now press start, and after a while, you will start enjoying the magic.

Step 07

Once the tattoo design is entirely copied, grab the stencil paper, cut it from the machine. You are now ready to transfer the tattoo design print to your or customer’s skin.

How to transfer the stencil design on the skin?

Woman Doing Tattoo

Now, after the tattoo design is transferred to stencil paper, what is the process of moving it to the skin? Well, this process is also not a complicated one.

Follow the below necessary steps.


  • Before starting tattooing, it is essential to prepare the tattooing area. Use a razor to shave the area. Use the best tattoo antibacterial soap to clean the area thoroughly.
  • Once the area is cleaned, leave it for a few minutes to dry completely. Then take some stencil solution and apply in the area. Ensure applying enough stencil solution on the area so that the whole tattooing area gets covered. Also, don’t use too much that makes tattoo bleeding. After applying, let the solution dry.
  • When the stencil solution gets dried, take the stencil paper and place it one the tattooing area keeping the face side down on the skin. Use a clean tissue to apply pressure on the area. Continue providing the pressure for a few seconds.
  • Then lift the stencil paper, and you will have the tattoo design printed on the skin. Don’t touch the area; give the area a rest to dry. Once it is entirely dried, then start tattooing.

Why is it Essential to Have a Tattoo Stencil Machine in Your Tattoo Studio?

Following multiple ways, you can create a tattoo stencil, excluding the stencil marker.


You can create the tattoo design on the canvas directly using a regular pen. It is known as the specialized form of tattooing, and in most cases, customers give the tattoo artist freedom to create the tattoo design.


Besides, manual drawing on the tattoo transfer paper is also an effective method. Compared to freehand designing, this process is much simpler because tracing is relatively easy with the process while making the design. However, since you are illustrating with hand, it gets complicated. And if any problem happens, you may need to re-do the procedure.


But with the tattoo stencil machine and tattoo design in stencil paper, you will not face this problem.


Below are a few reasons why it is essential to have a tattoo stencil machine in your tattoo studio.

1. Improves tattoo artist’s efficiency

Undoubtedly, using of stencil machine will boost up your efficiency of creating a tattoo. You can effortlessly skip labor-intensive steps with the help of stencil machines.


Generally, drawing a tattoo design takes a few hours to complete. In comparison, a stencil machine will allow you to complete a tattoo design within a few minutes.

2. Portable stencil machines will help you to show magic wherever you want

Do you love to travel? Also, are you looking for an option to travel with your stencil machine to continue your tattooing practice in travel? A portable tattoo stencil machine will add value to your tattooing equipment.


With this, you can make different tattooing designs without any trouble, even if you are traveling or your studio.

3. Adjustment of the tattooing design can be made with more ease

Stencil tattoo machines will beautifully display what a finished tattoo will look like. Your customer can then decide if they want to wear it on the skin or need any adjustment before wearing the tattoo permanently on the skin. In these cases, you will not face any difficulty adjusting the tattoo design and creating a fresh tattoo stencil.

Do I need to Look for the Best Tattoo Transfer Paper?

Tattoo Transfer Paper

The truth is, cheap products will never give you the best result. You have no other choice with the high-end tattoo thermal copier machine except using the best tattoo transfer paper.

Learning about different tattoo stencil paper will allow you to avoid unnecessary issues like poor design, bleeding of the in, etc. As a result, you can make a precise decision, and you can keep yourself away from cheap tattoo transfer papers.

Tattoo transfer papers are 2 types.


Freehand tattoo transfer paper and thermal tattoo transfer paper.

Freehand tattoo transfer paper is also known as Hectograph tattoo stencil transfer paper. In terms of appearance, there is no dissimilarity between these 2. Both come with 3 sheet layers, and one layer is yellow-colored. However, you will need to handle them differently.

Moreover, you will get the idea that freehand tattoo transfer papers are designed to be used with manual illustrating designs from the name itself. On the other hand, thermal tattoo transfer papers are used in tattoo thermal copiers. With this information’s help, you can quickly tell which one suits your requirements for different methods of making a tattoo.

How to Effectively Use Stencil Transfer Paper?

In the beginning, you may find it a bit confusing working with stencil transfer paper. Once you start working with it, using a stencil transfer paper will never be a tricky task.


You can use stencil transfer paper in 2 different ways: manually and with a tattoo stencil printer.


Let’s find the manual process of using it from below.


  • Between the carbonized sheet and top sheet, you will find a protective sheet. Remove it.
  • On the top sheet, you have to draw the tattoo design.
  • Examines the sheets on another side you drew. This site will be used to transfer the tattoo design on the skin.

The process of making a stencil with a tattoo printer depends on the used tattoo printer type.

Frequently Asked Question

How do you make homemade tattoo stencils?

You will require a few pieces of equipment to make homemade tattoo stencils.


  • Carbon paper
  • Speed stick deodorant
  • Transfer paper

Use a simple paper to draw a tattoo design. They take the carbon paper and use the design with it on transfer paper. Next, draw the plan on the paper.


Sticking the papers together – this process of copying the design much more effective compared to other methods. Since you have already used transfer paper to reproduce the design. Take a deodorant speed stick and rub it on the tattooing area. Place the transfer paper on the designated area and sprinkle it so that the system gets copied on your skin.


It is not a complicated process to follow and will not take much time to finish. When you face a problem with transferring complex tattoo design, it is recommended to use this process.

Also, keep in mind to do practice before transferring it to the skin.

Do I need to take any special steps before using a tattoo stencil?

Yes, without the right preparation, you will not get the best result. So, follow the below steps.


  • Clean the tattooing area using a sterilizer or any antibacterial soap.
  • Use a moisturizer to prime the tattooing area.
  • Shaving the area with a razor is necessary. It is because hair may distract the tattoo process. Shaving will ensure that the tattoo ink will get stamped on the skin.

How long do printed tattoos last?

Generally, 1 – 2 weeks is the lifespan of printed tattoos.

Do tattoo stencils wash off? Is there any way of taking off the tattoo stencils?

Tattoo stencils wash off naturally.


Soak a paper tissue of soft cloth into bleach. Rub the tattooing area gently to take off the tattoo stencils. If this process is unworkable because of the stencils’ stubborn characteristics, cover the tattooing area with the paper tissue or soft cloth at least for an hour. If required, you can cover it for a long time too. Then try wiping off the tattoo stencils.

Is it safe to use Vaseline to transfer tattoo stencil?

Yes, you can use it. Enough application of Vaseline will make the tattooing area shiny. Don’t apply too much as the transfer will get blurred. Don’t make a rush while applying the Vaseline. Use your forefinger to rub on the tattooing area gently. Remember not to use too much Vaseline.

Is it possible to print tattoo stencils using a regular printer?

To get printed on carbon paper, much pressure is necessary. But both ink-jet printers and laser printers are not effective in delivering essential pressure. This means you can use regular ink-jet or laser printers for tattoo stencils.

Final Thoughts

Tattooing is an art, and to give the art a gorgeous look, it is mandatory to learn the working process of different tattooing equipment.    


Learning is always beneficial, and with the process of working with a tattoo stencil machine, you can get more control over a tattoo design. Moreover, tattoo stencil machines will help you to save valuable time and money.


Hopefully, with the information shared in this article, you will be able to get the best result.