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Weak lines

Sleeculross

Basic
Joined
2 Feb 2021
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4
Location
Portsmouth, uk
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Sian
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Female
Hi! I'm a tattoo apprentice and have been for almost a year. Have practiced on the studio boss, myself and my boyfriend. We are currently in lockdown due to Covid and I've been practicing on myself but still seem to have some weak lines. Just wondering how I can get to doing one pass lines that aren't shaky? It doesn't matter what needle I use, I've tried 5rl, 9rl and 11rl. I always get "ghost lines" and it seems as though the lines I do aren't full lines, they just look like thinner lines making it up kind of thing. I've tried different volts when practicing on fake skin and found 9 was good for my hand speed but in actual skin it is way different.

Also for context I use a Dragonhawk Mast Tour.

Tia!
 
Last edited:

gadsden1776

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468
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n
Looks like depth & angle could be a problem - however take that with a grain as I am by no means at a level that I can distinguish a lot of errors. If you have a large group & the angle is too extreme not all of the needles will make full penetration. I find that a problem & get similar results to what you posted when I am trying for super bold lines w/like a 14rl.

no experience w/fake skin - but i understand that you slow down on fake... so try increasing your machine speed on human whilst keeping your hand speed similar to what you do now. pay attention to the skin though for sure.

how is your stretch? if the skin is too loose then you wont get good/even penetration & it can be wobbling all over... making the stencil hard to follow.

sometimes shaky lines are just a shaky hand. can you trace that on tracing paper with a sharpie & get a solid line? can you do it while maintaining constant hand speed & pen angle? There are some good drills here posted by some of the more experienced/shop guys.
 

TexasPT

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@marknovak5572
looks like a forearm...if I'm right, you don't have a hand to stretch.. You also start and stop lines a bajillion times and can't get the needle in the same spot twice. Your hand is too fast for the machine speed and your depth is all over the place.

No go show your mentor and let them help you fix it. I'd be a bit peeved if my apprentice went online to strangers asking for help rather than me.
 

Torb

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Its definitely a mixture of things that are causing the weak lines. Inconsistent depth, moving to fast and not enough stretch. I find the key to nice lines is how you rest your hand and fingers on the skin to make it comfortable. If your troubles persist I'd recommend trying a coil machine as they are much better suited to lining.
 

Sleeculross

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2 Feb 2021
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Portsmouth, uk
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Sian
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Female
Looks like depth & angle could be a problem - however take that with a grain as I am by no means at a level that I can distinguish a lot of errors. If you have a large group & the angle is too extreme not all of the needles will make full penetration. I find that a problem & get similar results to what you posted when I am trying for super bold lines w/like a 14rl.

no experience w/fake skin - but i understand that you slow down on fake... so try increasing your machine speed on human whilst keeping your hand speed similar to what you do now. pay attention to the skin though for sure.

how is your stretch? if the skin is too loose then you wont get good/even penetration & it can be wobbling all over... making the stencil hard to follow.

sometimes shaky lines are just a shaky hand. can you trace that on tracing paper with a sharpie & get a solid line? can you do it while maintaining constant hand speed & pen angle? There are some good drills here posted by some of the more experienced/shop guys.
Thank you for the reply! I've done a fair few on my legs to practice but it seems to be very tender there for me so it's difficult to get a good depth so that most probably is the main problem. I will have a look at tight needles and see how they are, I've just been using the cartridges that came with my machine. My machine runs at 5-9 and then 11, on fake skin I found my work best at 9 but I feel as though 11 may be too high to line with but I'll have a fiddle round. Stretch is relatively good, definitely gotten better after looking at different techniques but still not 100%, that's why I've been tattooing by my ankles as it's easy to stretch there as I can just move my foot etc. Hand is fine whilst drawing with a pen. I'll definitely have a look at my depth control and try to maintain it. Thanks so much for your help!
 

Sleeculross

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Portsmouth, uk
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Sian
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Female
looks like a forearm...if I'm right, you don't have a hand to stretch.. You also start and stop lines a bajillion times and can't get the needle in the same spot twice. Your hand is too fast for the machine speed and your depth is all over the place.

No go show your mentor and let them help you fix it. I'd be a bit peeved if my apprentice went online to strangers asking for help rather than me.
All my tattoos that I've done myself are on my lower legs/ankles as it's easy to stretch there. I believe my depth is the issue. I used the same hand speed every time, and when I practiced on fake skin it was fine and bold lines but I can't feel the pain when I'm tattooing fake skin unlike tattooing myself. As for talking to my mentor, as I mentioned, I am in a covid lockdown and have been since middle of December. He is also a 60 year old man that doesn't know how to use a phone so I can't phone him or text, and he doesn't use a rotary pen like I do so I can't ask for tips. He specifically told me during lockdown to practice and do research.
 

TexasPT

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@marknovak5572
if it were just depth you'd have thinner lines, not necessarily same thickness but raked. That is hand speed.

you have a large challenge with putting lines in the same place twice. So you are running your hand too fast...and then coming back with poor depth (notice how they are thinner) to try and fix them. what you get is 2 challenges in one spot.

when you slow down for curves you'll notice how you get solid lines...your concentrating because curves are not easy.

my observation
 

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gadsden1776

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8 Oct 2011
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n
if it were just depth...
do we have stickies here? this is one of the single best learning posts i've read i think. not only in critiquing/educating the OP & line work in general. More so imo on how to critique technical problems & post solutions/educate in general.
 

Chustik

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gerard_van_nierop
weak lines - You are going to fast
Scratchy thin lines - not deep anough
faint or almost no line - not enough stretch

I imagine you are using a rotary/pen machine. These type of machine need a slow hand speed for linning and you have to push the needle into the skin yourself. They dont have the weight/ sharp hit of a coil that breaks the skin so you have to gently push the machine for needle to penetrate the skin. If you are using a cam system be sure to use 3.5mm or higher for linning.



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DKJ

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thetattooyoyo
I'm a 50% double pass liner so i won't be able to give you any tip about depht.

But, about precision and since often i have to join my lines when they're curves: what i believe is you should really go slower to get more steady in the beginning.
While the session goes on, i always feel more and more confident and can sink more one pass lines with a correct depht.

I use a rotary too, and my lining improved a lot with some of these:
- Adjusting my Volts to my handspeed in the first 5 minutes, then keep the same hand speed,
- working a lot on my stretch so i can make my needles enter at the exact point where they're supposed to land,
- getting a good light to get even more precise (clarity over the needle entering the skin + better at following the stencil)
- Using a clean, computer drawn design (perfect lines, circles and curves), and printing my stencil (no more stencil drawn by hand),
- looking very closely and very often at my reference to clarify how i'm going to line this or that,
- putting less vaseline and only where it's needed to get a better stretch (no greasy gloves or prone to ice-skating tattoo area),
- starting my joining lines by putting the needle softly on the skin before i enter it, the ink deposit it does helps me to see where it will land more precisely,
- Positionning your self at the best angle, and with the best body/arms/hands position for you and your client.

> About the last point : self tattoing is almost never as good as tattoing a client. You can't position yourself right for all angles needed.

All the best to you and your apprenticeship!

Peace,

DKJ
 

Tris

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Just slow down, take your time, i use rotary pens i line on around 8v medium hand speed, good stretch, depth and angles are all important factors. It doesnt matter what needle you use. Have fun đź‘Ť
 

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