How To Make a Tattoo Stencil: 5-Step Guide

How to make a tattoo stencil: 5-step guide
In this article, we describe the whole process of creating a tattoo stencil with tracing paper. Bonus for beginners: a gallery of easy tattoo stencils ideas.

Using a tattoo stencil will help the artist and client come to a consensus. They can not only create the best design but also apply it to the different parts of the body to find the best placement. And as the main bonus: your design will be correctly transferred to the body. A tattoo stencil will help beginners make them more confident and will help professional tattooers with complex designs. Do you want to know more about tattoo stencils and how to make them? Read our article.

Are the Tattoo Stencils Permanent?

No, they are not permanent and it is their advantage. The tattoo artist can apply them to your body almost as many times as you want. If you do not like the design or the location, you can easily wash the stencil off. But when the needle begins inking the design, it becomes permanent and from this moment you cannot apply any changes.

Materials To Make a Tattoo Stencil

  • Tracing paper or wax paper;
  • Stencil fluid;
  • An ink pen with a fine tip;
  • Masking tape;
  • Antibacterial soap;
  • Razor;
  • Stick deodorant.

Creating a Tattoo Stencil

  1. Think over the design on the regular paper. Make sure that you are satisfied with it. If you draw the scratch by yourself, be sure to draw thick outlines so they will be visible through the tracing or wax paper. If you use a prepared scratch or print the picture, you can skip this step as they usually have clear thick lines.
  2. Prepare materials. When you are ready with the design, put a tracing or wax paper over the design. In order not to move papers accidentally, tape them with masking tape on a solid surface. It will help you to transfer the design with high precision.
  3. Transfer the design to the tracing paper. Just carefully trace your design on the tracing paper. Then remove the tape, be careful when you do it as the tape can damage the tracing paper. Now turn over the tracing and put the new piece of the tracing paper above. Once more tape the papers. Trace the design once more now with the help of stencil fluid and an ink pen.
  4. Prepare the skin. Shave an area where you want to place a design. Then using antibacterial soap clean and dry the skin. Apply stick deodorant on this area so that the tracing paper will stick better.
  5. Apply the stencil. Put in with a fluid side to the skin. Pat it down and leave for a couple of minutes. To not smudge the design, do not rub the stencil.
If you do not turn the tracing paper over, the design will be mirrored when you put it on the skin.

The Difference Between the Tracing and Tattoo Transfer Paper

The idea of both kinds of paper is to transfer the design from regular paper to your skin. But tattoo transfer paper has three layers. The lowest layer just holds all sheets in place. The second layer is a black sheet of carbon paper, and the top layer is a sheet where the transferred design will appear. You will need a thermographic transfer maker to apply the design from the paper to the top layer. But when you use tracing paper to create a tattoo stencil, you do not need any specific equipment. Read our article about tattoo transfer paper to know more about how to use it.

Easy Tattoo Stencil Ideas

We have found some easy tattoo stencils ideas that you can use to train yourself. Also, you can look for inspiration on the Internet.

Tattoo Stencil Apps

There are a lot of tattoo stencil applications. They will be useful if you prefer to create designs on your smartphone or tablet and if you can be inspired suddenly. Some of these apps you can also install on your computer or laptop.

Creating a design in the app is faster because you do not need to redraw it many times on regular paper. These designs usually have clear thick lines that are easy to see through the tracing or wax paper. Thus the process of drawing out the design will be quicker and easier. 



Tattoo stencils are used to transfer the design from the regular paper to the body. They are temporary until the moment the tattooer begins to ink the design. When you create tattoo stencils with tracing paper, you do not need any specific equipment like a thermographic transfer maker that is used with a tattoo transfer paper.

To create a tattoo stencil you will need tracing or wax paper, stencil fluid, an ink pen with a fine tip, masking tape, antibacterial soap, a razor, and stick deodorant. It will take the most time to create a design and to transfer it to the tracing paper. If you do not want to draw the design by hand, you can use tattoo stencil apps.


🖨️ Can I Print on Tracing Paper?

No, tracing paper is not designed for printing. It cannot absorb moisture, so all ink will be smeared.

📃 How To Make a Tattoo Stencil With Wax Paper?

The process is the same as with tracing paper. You will need to trace the design from the regular paper on the wax one and then once more on the wax paper but using stencil fluid. The full guide you can find in our article.

🤔 What Can I Use to Apply Tattoo Stencils?

When the stencil is ready, prepare the skin. You will need antibacterial soap, a razor, and stick deodorant. A stick deodorant will help attach the design to the skin and hold it in place.

🚿 Do Tattoo Stencils Wash Off?

Yes, tattoo stencils are easy to remove. There are special astringents in tattoo shops. But stencils can be also washed off with water and soap, just not from the first time.


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