Everything on FreeHand tattooing
How to master this tattooing technique
27 April 2023
FreeHand tattooing is a technique that has become increasingly common in the tattoo world.
Freedom and flexibility are two of its main pillars.
It's a technique that adapts to almost any style and can be included in remarkable ways.
But beware, it's not all plain sailing, FreeHand requires a great deal of skill from the tattooist and an extensive understanding of tattooing supplies and techniques.
Want to know more? Stick around, we'll tell you all about it.
What is ‘FreeHand’ tattooing?
FreeHand tattooing is a technique by which the tattooist doesn't use a tattoo stencil or a previous design, but instead draws and tattoos directly on the client's skin.
It's considered one of the most complex techniques to master because it requires tons of practice and control of all the tools to achieve a unique piece without mistakes.
Unlike traditional tattooing with a stencil, in FreeHand tattooing, precision becomes a greater challenge because not having a stencil to guide each stroke can lead to mistakes.
However, freehand tattooing allows you to create a fully customised design that precisely fits the curvature of the body in areas where a stencil cannot reach properly.
It can also be considered by many as a one-of-a-kind work of art in itself, as the tattoo can be created on the spot, never to be repeated.
Freehand tattooing offers many possibilities, and this is why it's becoming widely used in the professional world.
How to freehand tattoo and what to consider?
The key to FreeHand tattooing is to have overall good tattooing skills. In other words, it's a technique that requires certain experience and that's why it's not recommended for beginners.
On the other hand, some people believe that drawing knowledge is crucial for this type of work because it gives you agility and ability when it comes to drawing lines and outlining figures.
Drawing, as told you many times before, is essential for any artist, regardless of what style they work in. And in this specific case, we could say that it's an excellent tool for solving problems and the unexpected. So, if you want to know more about drawing, here we tell you all about it, pass by and learn how to draw for tattooing.
But one thing doesn't negate the other. If you have great drawing skills, but you lack practice and have poor technique, you'll always be halfway through. And vice versa.
That's why, if you want to tattoo FreeHand, we recommend that you practice a lot first.
You can try freehand tattooing on synthetic skin to find out how you feel tattooing without a guide. You'll find it's an entirely different experience. Here you can find out more about fake skins, Synthetic skins for tattooing.
Some frequently asked questions about FreeHand
It's natural to have many doubts when approaching this type of tattooing. The first and most frequent is:
1- Can any style be tattooed FreeHand?
Technically, yes. But be careful, don't be overconfident. As you know, some tattoo styles are much more complex than others. Realism, for instance.
To tattoo Realism, you need a lot of technical knowledge, drawing and composition. And even if you are an expert, you must have some guidelines and supporting points to be able to tattoo with precision.
This is why it's risky to affirm that any style can be tattooed in FreeHand.
2- What are the tricks to FreeHand tattooing?
Broadly speaking, FreeHand can be done in two ways: by drawing the tattoo with a marker, or by tattooing directly on the client's skin without any guide.
The first one involves drawing the main lines of the design with an indelible marker, thus drawing something similar to a handmade stencil on the skin.
This method is commonly used by tattoo artists because it allows them to have greater control over potential mistakes, as well as to design the tattoo together with the client and make any necessary modifications.
Some recommend using at least two colours in the markers: a very light one and another darker. With the lighter colour, you mark the basic tattoo structure, that is, something like a first sketch.
And then, with the darker colour, you define the lines that finally remain in the tattoo. Always remember to use skin-friendly markers. Usually, Sharpie markers are the best choice.
Finally, the second way of tattooing FreeHand is to tattoo the client's skin without a previous design or reference point.
This is the riskiest and hardest of all because it requires great confidence and mastery of all the tools, techniques and needles, as well as the client's complete trust in you. That's why we don't recommend it to everyone.
Tip: some tattooists, aside from marking with indelible, use a brush and, with hectographic ink, literally paint the shaded areas and some other details that stand out in the design. This is totally up to each person's taste, and you should practice a lot before doing it.
3- Can you tattoo Freehand with any kind of needle?
Objectively speaking, yes, because the design can be as diverse as you want it to be. But you need to thoroughly know about the types and sizes of needles to decide which one(s) to use.
If you want to know more about this, we invite you to read our article Guide to tattoo needles.
4- Is it the same to tattoo in colour as with black ink?
First, you should know that tattooing in colour or with black ink alone is an entirely different experience.
Tattooing in colour can be more complicated in a certain sense because it requires more knowledge in terms of colour theory, and more control on tones, saturation, and colour mixing.
Also, if your intention, for example, is to do a FreeHand tattoo that involves gradients, you must be almost an expert at this because, without a stencil, you can really mess it up.
On the other hand, it's convenient to work only with black inks, as you may have less to worry about. Meaning, the job will be easier because you'll be limited to using just one colour instead of many.
Many tattoo artists suggest starting with black designs to master the FreeHand technique, and then gradually increasing the difficulty. As, for example, adding dilutions, different types of shading and, finally, more daring colours and styles.
In short, tattooing with colour is never the same as tattooing only with black. But you can do it as you wish, as long as you have all the necessary knowledge to tackle one technique or the other.
To find out more about colour, click here, and we'll tell you everything you need to know about the chromatic circle and its importance in colour tattooing.
FreeHand tattooing is a fairly complex technique to master, but it never ceases to amaze us.
This type of tattooing is ideal if you want to take on new challenges because you can learn a lot. Always remember to practice hard before tattooing a client to avoid getting into serious trouble.
If you are looking to freehand tattoo just to impress someone and show off your skills, let us tell you that this is not the best way to go.
A tattoo is going to stand out because of the result and not due to how it is done.
In other words, don't stress so much about what technique to use, but rather about how well the tattoo turns out. The tattoo is always our priority, above any other element. On a scale of importance, the final result always comes first.
Para tatuar FreeHand, tienes que saber algo muy importante y es que el cliente está brindándote toda su confianza. Por eso, tómate el trabajo con la seriedad que se merece.
To tattoo FreeHand, you have to bear in mind that the client is putting all his trust in you. So take the job as seriously as it deserves.
In short, if you manage to master FreeHand, you will certainly stand out as a professional, but that will not be the main reason.
In the end, only your well-made tattoos will help you be praised by your colleagues and make your clients want to come back; and not the techniques you use.
Want to know more about tattooing and expand your knowledge? Go here and learn to tattoo like a pro with us.
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