Tattoo Techniques Needed for Tattoo Shading

Tattoo Technique Guide 2023-Stigma Tattoo
A clear, long-lasting tattoo piece essentially requires good technique to work.
Tattoos Shading or gradients make a tattoo design look more realistic or deeper than a tattoo made up of only lines. Tattoo artists who specialize in shading create images with depth. Most shading techniques are based on using black pigment at the lowest point of the design. This does not mean that shading can only be done with black ink; in realism, colored pigments are often used to create depth and shaded surfaces that make the final design look pleasing to the eye.
Tattoo artists often choose to do shading in the following ways:

Whip shading

Whip shading is accomplished by inserting a needle into the skin and rotating the hand away from the entry point of the needle on a circular axis. If the needle does not enter the skin fast enough to create a solid line, then you are doing whip shading correctly. A fast-moving hand creates a stippling effect that becomes less saturated as the hand is rotated farther along the axis.

Trail shading

The antithesis of whip shading. Instead of drawing circles or whipping, the artist moves the tattoo machine linearly (in a straight line), and the farther you go, the less pigment is left on the skin. The result is a smooth gradation.

Cupping Tattoo

Moving in small concentric circles from side to side, the pigment is zigzagged into the skin, slowly absorbing the plasma to thin the pigment as the needle passes through the skin. The point of cupping is never to pick up the needle. The needle will remain in the skin while the pigment is slowly diluted by exposing the needle to the available plasma discharge.


Gently rock their elbow from side to side with a soft wrist, moving slowly in one direction.

Drag Shading

This is accomplished by dragging the machine backwards while it is running.

Opaque Gray Shading

Mix some white and black ink together in proportion. Insert the skin. Note the color blending at the top, this blending technique will make the final appearance of most colored pigments cloudy.