This may or may not include using black ink, although some artists refer to all black ink work as ‘shading.” Depending on the effect you want with your coloring, you may choose from a variety of techniques. Sometimes you may choose to use a series of small overlapping circles to fill in space. In other cases, you may choose to sweep the needle across the skin with varying pressure to create more of a shading effect.
The coloring is usually done from darkest to lightest, rather than working from one side of the tattoo to the other. This is done for a couple of reasons. First, this keeps the darker colors from accidentally mixing with the lighter ones. Also, the needles, tube, and tips will have to be cleaned between colors, and you wouldn’t want to have to do so every five minutes.
There is nothing better than taking a talent and honing it into something better then you ever thought you could. In this section, I want to cover a few advanced techniques to better help you become a true artist. The problem is never seeing it inside your head, just putting it on the skin. One of the best ways to improve your skill is to set up in your color work. Custom colors will defiantly make your mark in the tattoo field. Tattoo pigments mix very well together. Play with different color combinations to get some unique colors. Color blending is another technique that will bring your art to live. Currently, there are about sixteen million color hues that the human eye can see, use them all. Take a plain old kanji (Japanese calligraphy) for example. Not everything you do has to be solid black. One of my more popular color combinations is magenta and dark purple. You fill the kanji in with the magenta then wash the purple starting with the bottom as the dark line and work up. This gives an otherwise flat looking image a little more definition. I know I said before not to tattoo the lighter pigment first, but this is another color technique. Once the magenta is filled in, the skin is now open. While you wash shade the purple it will dye the magenta darker. If you wipe upwards into the magenta it will smooth out the color blending. Sort of like rubbing a pencil drawing with you finger to blend the graphite. A few other good colors to do this with is light blue and dark blue, light green and dark green, yellow and red, light aqua blue and dark purple, white and light blue, and magenta with dark green. They can make for some strange color combination, but they look great. Yellow and orange make a gold metallic effect. Some other things to think about with color is to add more. If you are tattooing simple vine work, why just use green? Try light neon green and shade the leaves and vines with a washed dark green for definition. The more colors you can apply the more depth and realism the image will have.
Decaling is another advanced color trick. It works best with bright colors and small tattoos. Do the entire tattoo and when you are done, line the outside line with white. Just like with bold lining only, not as thick, just the width of another outline. Don’t do any outside lines either. This trick is called decaling because it makes the entire tattoo look like a sticker of a fake tattoo. The image will jump off of the skin. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work well with black and gray or light color work. It looks cool, but it won’t look like a sticker unless the entire inside of the tattoo is a bright color.