Sweep Shading

One of the most common shading techniques is called sweep shading. This technique is performed by “sweeping” the color across the skin in order to deposit more ink at the beginning, and less at the end of the motion, much like the “flick” of a paintbrush stroke.
With the machine on, place the needles right along the outline and make sure that each needle on the needle bar is in full contact with the outlined skin. “Sweep” or “Flick” the machine away from the outline, flicking it up and gradually reducing the amount of contact it is making with the skin.

The finished result of sweep shading is less ink at the end of the stroke and more at the beginning, giving a natural gradation of shadow to the shading.

Careful circling can give a similar effect if
done well, but sweep shading is easier, and
leaves less room for error—not to mention
the finished product looks superior.

Once the shading has been finished, the next step is coloring the design. Before this process can begin, however, there are a few steps that need to be taken to ensure the success of the tattoo. The client’s skin should be gently washed, and a thin coat of petroleum jelly should be applied to the design. Every part of the needle apparatus needs to be cleaned under hot running water in order to ensure there is no black ink left anywhere. If even the slightest bit is left behind, it could deposit black in the areas meant to have vivid color, which could spoil the entire look of the tattoo.