How to Use Tattoo Transfer Paper Without Machine

A thermal copier makes the creation of tattoo designs on paper almost effortless. You can however still create beautiful design images even if you do not have a thermal copier. You can make designs using almost any inkjet printer and transfer paper, or you can go old school and use less technologically advanced methods.

How to Use Tattoo Transfer Paper With the Machine


A thermal copier produces an image onto paper using applied heat. The thermal copy paper is coated with a specialized dye that turns a black color when it is heated. The thermal printer heats the paper and causes the ink to change to black color.

These printers are very easy to use. They copy images just like regular printers do except when they transfer the copied image they use the thermal paper that can be then used to position a tattoo outline or design onto the skin of the people you are tattooing.

These printers cost a little more than the normal printer, but they illuminate many of the mistakes and flaws that happen with typical ink transfers. These transfers are basically smudge-free, and very easy to follow.

How to Use Tattoo Transfer Paper Without a Machine

You do not need to have a thermal copier to create a great tattoo stencil on the skin. A regular inkjet printer paired with temporary tattoo paper that can be purchased at the majority of all craft stores will allow you to easily create the stencil to work from.

  1. You want to clean the area where the tattoo is going to be placed
  2. Shave the area so minute hairs do not interfere with the tattoo transfer or the needles when you are working
  3. Apply the stencil by first dampening the area with stencil lotion or sticking deodorant to the area to help hold the traced stencil in place while you work. You can even use carbolated Vaseline to create an area that the stencil will adhere to. 

Use Tracing Paper

Trace the design that you want to use as a tattoo stencil using tracing paper. Once the design has been traced onto the paper you want to turn the paper upside down.

Put a fresh sheet of paper with no drawing on it on top of the completed tracing that you have turned upside down.

Retrace the design using a stencil pen or stencil fluid.

Place the image you have created on the area of the skin where you want the tattoo. The image should be facing the skin with the backside of the paper facing out.

Wet a paper towel and place the wet towel on top of the back of the paper.

Apply firm pressure to the wet paper towel for no less than thirty seconds.

The water the paper toweling is holding will saturate the paper and cause the ink on the paper to bleed and leave the image on the skin it was making contact with.

Direct Draw or Free Draw

The direct draw of the stencil design onto the skin that you want to tattoo is usually done only by experienced tattoo artists that are excellent at drawing. If you are just beginning it is best for you to learn to use stencils and carbon papers, but you can start practicing your drawing directly onto the skin.

Use a non-permanent marker or ink to draw onto the skin. Always make your lines as thin as possible so the needle line you create with your tattoo machine will completely cover the temporary line you have drawn.

Skin is soft and you have to learn to create the drawing using a very light touch. If you try to apply pressure while you are creating the image then the image will look distorted when it is complete.

You should stick with simple outlines when you are doing freehand drawing directly onto the surface of the skin.

The skin needs to be clean and tattoo-ready before you start to draw even if you are just practicing your drawing skills. It is important to get into the habit of making skin clean and tattoo-ready before you begin so when you are doing a real tattoo you do not skip any of the preparatory steps that will help you keep the area sanitary and properly prepared.

How to Transfer Tattoo Stencil to the Skin Without Transfer Paper

Create a stencil using regular paper, tape, and a regular printer.

  1. Place the invisible tape (like you use for Christmas package wrapping) on the paper where you want the tattoo to be.
  2. Place the paper into the printer so the printer will print on top of the taped area.
  3. The ink that will be ejected onto the tape will not stick to the tape.
  4. When the inked tape comes out of the printer you can skillfully apply it to the area of the skin where you want the tattoo to be.
  5. Follow the lines left from this stencil to create your image lines for the ink you will apply
  6. If you want you can even create tattoos for kids like this. The tattoos will be temporary because they are strictly topical and will not penetrate the skin at all.

Tips to follow:

  • Practice placing these tattoos on other things like other pieces of paper before you use them on skin
  • Apply firm pressure when making the ink transfer and do not rub or you will smear the ink
  • You can draw the pattern onto the tape using a non-permanent marker instead of printing with a printer
  • You can clean the taped area with a piece of cotton cloth or tissue and then reuse the paper over and over again. This saves you a lot of money in supplies.
  • You can cut around the tape so you have a smaller piece of paper to work with and that makes it easier to carry your stencil with you.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can you use a regular printer for tattoo transfer paper?

The majority of inkjet printers accept transfer paper. Read your operations manual carefully to see what kind of paper can be used in the printer that you have.

How do you get tattoo transfer paper to stick to your skin?

Moisten the area where you want to place the tattoo paper. Deodorant is one of the frequently used items for creating this moisturized area. You can also use rubbing alcohol.

How do you transfer a drawing onto your skin without deodorant?

Yes, you can. You can pour a small amount of rubbing alcohol onto a cotton swab and clean and prepare the area where the tattoo will be used.

Final Thoughts

Tattoo creations have been being made long before transfer paper, carbon paper, printers and even tattoo machines were created. If you want to create a tattoo you can do so using rudimentary items and you do not have to rush out and buy the most expensive equipment. As you tattoo, for a while, you will find out your own preferences in stencil creation and will start to buy the tools you need to create things based on those preferences.

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