What Tattoo Needles Diameter Should You Use?
What is diameter?
The gauge or thickness of each individual tattoo needle attached to the bar in the configuration is referred to as the diameter.
Why is diameter important?
The amount of ink picked up and distributed into the skin is controlled by the diameter of a needle. Altering the needle's diameter impacts not only the level of trauma caused to the skin but also the speed and smoothness of ink application. Thinner needles, such as a #08 needle with a smaller diameter, facilitate layering by depositing a smaller amount of ink with each pass. This results in smoother blends. However, due to their reduced ink distribution capability, they can slow down the tattooing process. Conversely, larger needles, such as a #12 needle with a larger diameter, allow for faster ink saturation in the skin. Nonetheless, the larger size of each needle in the configuration increases the level of trauma inflicted on the skin with each pass.
Most common tattoo needle diameters
#12 – 0.35mm: The artist can acquire a substantial amount of ink during the tattooing process using needles known as "Standard" needles.
#10 – 0.30mm: #10 needles, also referred to as "Double Zeroes," provide a smaller size compared to the #12 needles, resulting in reduced trauma to the skin, while still facilitating greater ink capacity than the #8 needles.
#08 – 0.25mm: Often known as "Bugpins," these tattoo needles, tightly packed together, create a finer effect on the skin.
How do I decide which tattoo needle to use?
After settling on a design, determining the purpose of the needle diameter becomes essential. For solid color saturation, selecting a standard #12 needle is advisable. However, if intricate details or seamless blends through layering are desired, such as in a black and gray portrait, opting for a bugpin needle is recommended.
The size of tattoo needles plays a significant role. #12 needles are not only larger than #10, but the gaps between the needles in their configuration are also wider. Consequently, while a 12-15-M1 needle allows for swift color application on a larger area, a 10-15-M1 needle, despite having the same needle count, is slightly smaller due to the closer packing of its needles. This results in a slower process as the needle is smaller and deposits less ink into the skin. However, it provides a smoother application of color on the skin. This principle applies to all tattoo needles, including liners, flats, and others.
What each diameter does best?
Using Standard needles allows for quicker filling of large areas, but it can also result in more trauma to the skin. This needle size is particularly useful for packing solid black and color in tribal tattoos. In traditional tattooing, larger needles create bigger dots on the skin, which contributes to the "point shading" appearance. Additionally, stippling and shading techniques can be employed to add depth and texture to the tattoo design.
#10 (Double Zeroes)
Achieving softer shading can be accomplished by using needle configurations that blend the benefits of standard needles and bug pins. This combination allows for smoother gradients between black and grey areas in the tattoo design. By carefully selecting the right needle configuration, artists can create beautiful and seamless transitions, resulting in a more visually appealing tattoo.
When working on portraits, using fine needles allows for capturing tiny details with precision. However, it is not recommended for packing solid colors, as the thin needles may not deposit enough ink for solid coverage. While working with these fine needles, artists can make multiple passes over the skin to achieve the desired effect. Although this technique minimizes skin trauma, it may slow down the overall progress of the tattooing process.