How to Get a Thin Line on a Tattoo Machine

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Things You'll Need

  • Tattoo gun
  • Thin needles
  • Ink
  • Paper towels
  • Alcohol solution

The width of the needle inserted in the tattoo gun will dictate the thickness of the lines it creates. Thicker needles produce thicker lines, while thinner needles produce thinner lines. The overall size of the tattoo will also dictate just how thick or thin the line becomes. Smaller tattoos require thinner lines, in order to portray detail and not make the design seem muddled. For a smooth thin line, thin needles typically go over each line only once.

Insert thin needles into the tip of the tattoo gun and firmly lock them into place.

Dip the needles into the ink (usually black for line work) and absorb enough to make at least two inches of consistent line work.

Hold the gun at a slight and comfortable angle, the way you would a pencil or pen, and apply pressure to the foot switch to turn on the machine.

Sink the needles into the skin and move your whole hand along the stenciled line. It is absolutely crucial that you apply even pressure throughout the line work so it is even. Go slow and, ideally, go over each line only once.

Pull the needles away from the skin and release the pressure on the foot switch every time you complete a line.

Wipe away excess ink and blood often with a paper towel soaked in an alcohol solution.


  • Set your tattoo machine to a faster needle action when tattooing line work. This means the needles vibrate faster to give a more consistent look and cut back on gaps and other subtle imperfections.


  • Always sterilize all of your tattoo equipment before tattooing.


About the Author

Izzy Barden began writing in 2010 for various websites, specializing in golf and tattoos. He was awarded the Russ Morrison Golf Scholarship in Santa Barbara, Calif., where he attended Santa Barbara City College to study journalism and later dentistry at University of California, Los Angeles.

Photo Credits

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