Tattoo stencil machines are one of the most important tools that a tattoo artist can have. Because of this, it is important that you get the right one to fit your needs since there are so many options out there for you to choose from. But first you should understand more about what a tattoo stencil machine is and why you might need it.
What Is A Tattoo Stencil Machine?
A tattoo stencil machine is the perfect way for you to take a detailed tattoo design and put it on someone’s skin. This, along with your chair, ink, and the other tools of your trade, is a necessary tool for a number of reasons.
The machine is in many ways like a copy machine. It allows you to take a drawing or tattoo design and then it makes a copy of it onto thermal paper. Thermal paper is a special type of paper that is made up of four different layers and it is sometimes referred to as tattoo transfer paper.
The first layer is a white layer that is like paper and which clearly shows your design. The second is a waxy layer followed by a carbon layer and a yellowish layer last of all that holds everything together. This lets your customers see what the tattoo outline is going to look like before you even put it on them.
They can then confirm the design or request for some part to be changed. This way if they do not like the finished product it is their own fault and not yours. This can help you to be more confident and it also avoids the problems that can arise by marking on your client’s skin.
There will always be those few picky customers who want something changed or claims that the finished product looks different from what you showed them when you started. For this reason alone, having a copy of the outline that you did on them can prove you right and is a good reason to get one of these machines.
How Do You Use A Tattoo Stencil Machine?
First of all, you have to start with a drawing of what the outline of the tattoo is going to be. Then you can scan this drawing and the machine will make a copy of it on the thermal paper. This part works just like a normal printer, so if you can use a printer then you should be able to use this too.
Once it has been printed out, you then want to make sure that the area where the tattoo is going to go in is clean, dry, and preferably shaved as well and get the person still. Then you can remove the top layer of the thermal paper which is a film and throw it away.
You can then press the stencil directly to the skin, in which case you will be able to see the outline on their skin. However, you can also rub some transfer medium on the skin so that more of the ink from the tattoo transfer paper sticks to the skin.
If you don’t have a transfer medium, you can use something simple like deodorant. If you do not have even that this will still work it is just that the outline will be fainter. Once you have it rubbed on, then peel the paper off of their skin and get one last approval.
Then it is time to start tattooing! This outline can be a huge help, and everyone has certain things that they find difficult whether it is fur or hair or faces that need all the help that you can get. You still have to get you coloring and shading down, but starting off right will help the tattoo to look as good as possible.
What To Look For In A Tattoo Stencil Machine
As mentioned, if you start looking you will find that there are a lot of different options for tattoo stencil machines. Sometimes it can be really hard to try to figure out what you need in one and what are the most important things that you should be looking at.
If you are wanting to pick out your own tattoo stencil machine, then these are the things that you are going to need to consider. However, if you don’t feel that you have the time to hunt up your own, or if you just want something that you know is a popular brand that is known to work well, then you can scroll further down and get to my top picks.
This is probably the first thing that you are going to want to look at when searching for a good stencil machine. After all, if it does not do a good job of getting the ink you need on the paper and from the paper and onto the skin of your client, then why have it at all?
The last thing you want is a stencil machine that has a poor printing quality. If you are good working with very faint lines, then it might not matter too much to you if the lines don’t show up very well. Still, some poor quality tattoo stencil machines can even have sections that are completely missing, and that is even worse.
Slow To Overheat
This is a fairly common problem, more so when it comes to cheaper machines. Some models take a while to heat up, while others seem to overheat far too quickly. In the latter case, this can be quite a bit of a problem if your client requests multiple changes and you find that when you are finally ready to print out the one you hope to place on their skin the machine is already too hot to do so.
If you have more than one tattoo artist working in your shop and using the machine, then this is something that becomes even more important for you to look at. One of the things that you want to look at is that you do not want a machine that uses a hot bulb or anything else hot inside it since this will be sure to make it heat up a lot faster.
The other part of this that you should look at is if it has a light or something that lets you know when it is overheating. This is not a feature that every tattoo stencil machine has, but it can be very important. It is also much more convenient to see a warning light than it is to try to use it and have it malfunction in some way before you know it is too hot.
While the basics of most tattoo stencil machines are the same, there are any number of settings and optional features that you can find. Some of the more common ones are settings for mirror image, shading, and other things.
These settings can be extremely helpful, so it is important that you know which ones out of these would be the most useful to you so that you know to look for a machine that has them. However, you should be careful of getting a tattoo stencil machine with too many extra features since the more features that there are the more that can potentially go wrong with the machine.
Easy To Use
That also brings me to the next thing that you will always want to look at, which is you want a machine that will be easy to use. When there are a lot of settings and special features, it can get particularly confusing.
Therefore, you really want to get a machine that looks as self-explanatory as possible. This means that you want the buttons to have clearly marked words on them if possible and to generally make sense. At the very least you want it to come with a user manual of some kind which is surprisingly something that not every machine comes with.
The user manual should include how to get your tattoo stencil machine set up and ready to use, what the different features are, how to use the different features, and preferably also have some troubleshooting information as well. Setting up your machine should be as simple as possible too.
While those are the main things that you will want to look at when picking a tattoo stencil machine, you should also picture to yourself what you will be using it for. Sometimes tattoo artists like to travel around and go to their clients instead of setting up shop and having their clients come to them.
If this describes you, then you should look at machines that are lighter in weight and that are as portable as possible. This is not only a matter of weight, but it is also a matter of if anything pokes out that might get hit or pushed accidentally.
All in all, when you get a tattoo stencil machine you want to look for one that is not too expensive and yet is durable with all the features that you feel you need one to have. Finding this right balance can be hard sometimes, but it is well worth the effort to find machines that meet these qualifications and next we will look at what I think are some great examples.
#1. Life Basis Thermal Copier Printer
This thermal copier printer by Life Basis does great at printing out things like it is supposed to. It is really light in weight, weighing in at just over 2.5 pounds and it works with both the A4 and A5 paper sizes that are commonly used.
This option also comes with hundreds of free designs to get you started and which you can use as you like from their site. There is even a way you can organize your digital designs however you wish to. You can add more by using the copying feature and drawing a design and then scanning it.
There is also a mirror image feature and two deepness settings that can give you fine or thick lines. The overheating warning is present, and it does not have anything that makes it overheat too quickly so that you can use it for longer amounts of time.
There aren’t any parts that will need to be replaced regularly, so other than buying the paper there won’t really be any unexpected costs. It is really simple to set up and use, and it has good quality printing.
This also makes it more economical than other options, even though it does tend to cost a little more itself to make up for this fact. The only real care it needs being that you should wipe the gears regularly. If you are unsure how to do this, they even have a helpful video that you can watch that goes over this in detail for you.
Finally, if you get it from a reliable source then you can even get it with a two-year warranty. This is a really nice bonus since by this time you will have been using it for a while and you are going to know if anything isn’t working right.
#2. Black Tattoo Transfer Stencil Machine
This tattoo stencil machine that is made by YILONG features a fairly common design that you will see quite often. The whole point of this printer is to be as simple as possible and yet to still save you time and get the job done.
Because of this simplicity, it uses very little electricity and yet it gives a nice bold line for you to follow. While this does mean that this machine does not have any way to connect to a computer, it is still simpler than stenciling right on someone’s skin.
It does of settings that allow you to decide just how bold or how soft you want the lines to be and, thanks in part to the fewer parts it has, it can last you for quite a while. It is simple to use, and it works both quickly and surprisingly quietly too.
The fact that it is 3.5 pounds means that it is heavier than the first option I mentioned, but it is still quite light enough to carry. It uses only one transfer paper size, but it is compatible with the 100-240 voltage that you more often see in other countries, meaning that you can travel freely with this machine.
#3. Dragonhawk Black Tattoo Transfer Stencil Machine
This tattoo stencil machine is made by a well-known brand that does a great job of testing their products before they are shipped. Neither on the expensive side or on the cheap side, this machine fits in the middle of the price range.
It does well at transferring your lines onto your client’s skin, with two different deepness settings for you to choose from which are with heavy lines or fine lines. However, the job it does is somewhat dependent on the quality of the transfer paper that you are using.
So, if you are using cheap transfer paper then you will get results that are not nearly as good as you would with a better-quality paper. It cannot hook up to a computer, however, it works great as a copier. This means that if you have a computer then you can use a regular printer to print out your designs and then simply scan them with your stencil machine.
There is an error light on it that can indicate if the thermal printer starts to overheat, but also lets you know about a couple of other potential problems. While it is fairly simple, it is not as self-explanatory as you might think, and the instructions that it comes with are not as detailed as you might hope for.
Finally, like the previous machine I talked about, this one is also compatible with different voltages, allowing you to do some globetrotting with your tattoo tools if you want to do so.
#4. ATOMUS Thermal Copier Printer
This company has some great customer service for their tattoo stencil machines, encouraging you to contact them directly even if you purchased it from a place like Amazon. It has a fast working speed and it does not make a lot of extra heat, so you can use it for long stretches of time.
However, to get the best effects, you should let it rest every few papers that you have it print out. It should come with two transfer papers, one of which is blank and the other of which has some designs already on it to get you started.
You should also be aware of the fact that they do test each individual machine before they ship it out. This means that if it looks like it has already been used then this is simply a trace leftover from the test and it is nothing to worry about.
However, what you should be paying attention to is to fakes. There are fakes on the market that do not have anywhere near the quality, so make sure if you decide to get this stencil machine that you verify the source.
What is perhaps the best thing about this particular machine is that it is actually on the lower end of the price range. Yet it does not sacrifice quality at all. In fact, the quality is comparable to some of the much more expensive options.
It doesn’t make a lot of noise, and it is voltage compatible so that you can take it to other countries, weighing just over 3.5 pounds. It is simple and fast to set up and to pack away as needed and it is not prone to breaking.
#5. Tattoo Thermal Copier Printer
This tattoo stencil machine is made by Brrnoo and it is a great option which you should take a look at. It is really simple and easy to set up and use, and it is a good quality machine. It works with both A4 and A5 paper and it doesn’t really care if the paper is of the best quality or not.
There are only a few steps in order to use this machine, but there are 5 buttons for a variety of different functions. These include: the copy method, the resolution, and the depth. This allows you to get the settings just the way you want them.
The buttons are clearly marked and are very straightforward with not a lot of parts that will need to be replaced, making it a very economical option. The fact that it is made out of ABS material to help it last a long time only helps make it even more worth it to buy.
It works quickly without having overheating problems but, in case it does overheat, it has a light on it that will let you know. It is not the most lightweight, but it is not heavy either, meaning you should still be able to take this machine places with you.
Even if you are great at drawing outlines yourself by hand on someone’s skin, there are still plenty of reasons why you should at least consider getting one of these machines. Not only will it save you some time, but it will let your client see what it will look like.
You can keep a copy of the design as proof of what they agreed that they wanted, and if you take a picture of what the end result was it can help other clients decide what they want. Or you can give them the copy as something that they can look back on.