How to Make a Tattoo Stencil: A Comprehensive DIY Guide

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How to Make a Tattoo Stencil: A Comprehensive DIY Guide


You might consider creating your tattoo stencil so that you get the desired tattoo design for much cheaper than going through an artist. You only need a few skills, and some art materials, and then you are ready to make a custom stencilt to be used on your skin before being inkjet. This means that you can place it correctly and make any alterations to the overall design of the site. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through the entire process of How to Make a Tattoo Stencil designing, printing, and preparing. Follow along to learn how to make a stencil for your next tattoo!

How to Make a Tattoo Stencil Materials Needed:


Here are the basic supplies you’ll need to make your own tattoo stencil:

  • Tattoo design – This can be original artwork you’ve drawn or a custom design from a tattoo artist. Make sure the lines are dark and clear.
  • Transfer/stencil paper – This is a special paper coated with a substance that will transfer the design to your skin. Common brands are Tattoo Transfer Paper or Thermalfax stencil paper.
  • Printer and ink – You’ll need a printer, preferably one that can print on stencil paper. Any standard home inkjet printer should work. Stick to black ink only.
  • Transparent tape – Plain transparent household tape. This is used to seal the edges of the stencil.
  • Vaseline or anti-stick gel – Used to prepare the skin so the stencil can be easily removed.

How to Make a Tattoo Stencil Designing the Tattoo Stencil:

If you’re creating your own design, you’ll want to start by outlining as simple and clear as possible. Avoid thin intricate details or shading. The design should be high contrast, with solid black lines on a white background. Make sure the lines don’t overlap or touch. If needed, thicken up any thin parts in the design so they transfer better.

Remember that stencils reverse an image, so text and ambigrams will need to be designed accordingly. Also keep in mind the body placement so the tattoo reads properly when applied.

Once you have your design ready, print out a test copy on normal paper first to ensure it looks right. Then load your stencil paper into the printer and print the final design. Let it dry fully before handling.

How to Make a Tattoo Stencil Preparing the Skin:

Before applying the tattoo stencil, you’ll need to prepare the skin so the design transfers cleanly. Wash the spot in clean soap and water, make sure it is totally dry. Cover the surface of the skin with a few drops of petroleum jelly/anti-sticky gel, which is where the stencil will be positioned. This ensures that the stencil does not stick to the skin, which makes its removal easier. Allow the gel to get tacky before applying the stencil.

How to Make a Tattoo Stencil Applying the Tattoo Stencil:

Once your skin is prepped, you’re ready to apply the stencil:

  1. Carefully cut out the stencil design. Then place it face down on the prepared skin and hold in position.
  2. Once placed correctly, tape down the edges of the stencil with strips of transparent tape. This keeps it flat and prevents smudging.
  3. Using your finger or a plastic card, firmly rub over the back of the stencil. Apply pressure over all areas of the design, being careful not to move the stencil out of place.
  4. Let sit for at least 5 minutes. Gently lift one corner of the stencil to peek – the design should have transferred onto the skin.
  5. Slowly peel back the stencil paper, holding it flat against the skin to avoid smudging. Re-tape down any areas that seem light. Let sit for another minute or two if needed.
  6. Carefully remove all the stencil paper and tape. The tattoo design should now be outlined on your skin, ready to get inked!

How to Make a Tattoo Stencil Tips for Success:

Here are some handy tips for getting great results with your DIY tattoo stencil:

  • Print your design on a laser printer for crisp, clear lines. Inkjet is okay but may bleed and look fuzzy.
  • Trim stencil paper down to size before printing so it fits the tattoo area exactly.
  • Use a smooth, hard object like a credit card when rubbing down the stencil. Soft surfaces don’t apply enough pressure.
  • If the design seems light after peeling back the stencil, don’t worry! Just replace it and rub it again. Keep the stencil taped down so the alignment stays perfect.
  • Avoid pulling or stretching the stencil paper when removing it, as this can distort the design. Lift slowly and evenly.
  • Apply a very thin layer of gel/Vaseline so the stencil sticks lightly. Too much will prevent it from transferring.

With the right supplies and techniques, making your own tattoo stencil is easy. Get creative with your own unique designs or work with an artist to plan out custom artwork just for you. Then simply follow the steps above for a hassle-free stencil and perfect tattoo placement.

FAQ’s About How to Make a Tattoo Stencil :

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about How to Make a Tattoo Stencil:

Q1. How long does a tattoo stencil last on the skin?
Answer: The transferred design will show up clearly on the skin for 2-6 hours generally. It may start fading after that. Get your outline inked as soon as possible once the stencil is applied.

Q2. What if the stencil won’t stick to my skin?
Answer: If the design isn’t transferring, the problem is likely not enough gel/Vaseline on the skin. Wipe away the existing layer with a paper towel and reapply a thin, even layer. The skin should be lightly tacky. Too much gel will prevent the stencil from sticking.

Q3. Can I shower or wash the area after applying the stencil?
Answer: Avoid getting the stenciled area wet as this will make the design start to lift and fade. If you must wash, have your tattoo artist reapply the stencil right before your appointment.

Q4. How do I make the stencil last longer?
Answer: Using an alcohol-based tattoo stencil ink can help the transferred outline last up to 1-2 weeks on the skin before fading. Let the ink dry fully before rinsing though. Avoid long showers and swimming.

Q5. Can I reuse a stencil after applying it to the skin?
Answer: It’s best to use a new stencil each time for the cleanest transfer. The oils from your skin will leave residue on the stencil that could result in a faded, blurred design when reused.


Creating your own customizable tattoo stencils is a great DIY project for crafty artists. With the right preparation and supplies, transferring a crisp temporary outline onto your skin is easy. Just remember to design the image simply in high contrast, apply gel to the skin before adhering to the stencil, and gently peel it back. Your tattoo artist can then use the stencil to guide the permanent ink outline. Making your own stencils allows you to get the placement exactly how you envisioned. Plus, you can reuse or tweak the design as needed until it’s perfect. So get creative with your own artwork and make an affordable stencil for tattooing like a pro!

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