A "round" needle securely soldered into a pointed form may accommodate up to fifteen needles. This is used to draw a border around a tattoo. For coloring and shading, a combination of up to fifteen needles will be employed. A typical design requires fifty to sixty needles.
The number of needles used to create a tattoo depends on the size of the design and the skill of the artist. A small sketch may require twenty-five to thirty-two needles; a larger drawing could use as many as eighty-four. The more skilled the artist, the fewer needles they use.
Needles are available in different sizes from fine to broad. The width of the needle affects how far it can be inserted into the skin without breaking off. A fine needle is best for detailed work, while a broader one is used for shaping body parts like arms and legs.
There are two types of needles used by tattoo artists: solid and hollow. Hollow needles are used to reduce pain when tattooing and their tips may be decorated with non-toxic materials like silver or gold. They come in various lengths, from three-quarter inch to five inches. Tattoo artists usually combine several hollow needles to achieve the required shape for a tattoo.
Solid needles are also used for reducing pain but they don't have a hollow core and so they cannot be combined to make shapes.
What To Look For When Buying Tattoo Needles
|Needle Grouping||Tube Size||Commonly used for…|
|5M2, 7M2, 9M2||4 – 5 flat||Outlines, lines, detail, and shading|
|11M2, 13M2||6 -7 flat||Thick outlines, thick lines, shading, and color fill|
|15M2||8 – 9 flat||Color fill and shading|
|5MR||4 – 5 flat||Small lines, detail work, and intricate shading|
The end result is a very delicate and crisp outline, and it is far less painful than a typical electric tattoo, although it will take longer. Whereas most tattoo machines utilize up to eight needles, single-needle tattooing employs (ironically) only one. Although this method requires more time, it allows for finer control over the design and reduces the risk of getting stuck with multiple needles.
Single-needle tattooing is becoming increasingly popular among new artists looking to get their work accepted by mainstream clients who may not be willing to bare witness to multiple needles entering their skin. However, those who have been working on their craft for years know that this method offers no additional benefit over traditional tattooing, and it can even be more painful due to the lack of space between each needle insertion.
Also, because there is only one needle being used, there is a greater chance that you will get stuck with several threads from different parts of the garment all at once, which can cause serious problems if you are not careful enough when removing them. For example, if there are buttons attached to the shirt, they too will be inked along with the design, requiring someone to remove them later. This can be extremely difficult or impossible depending on what kind of button it is and how it was attached to the shirt.