Tattoo practice skin has come a long way in recent years, with more realistic options available to tattoo artists looking to perfect their crafts than ever before. In this article, we talk about the top tattoo practice skin options available to you and how to get the most out of each one.
Types of Tattoo Practice Skin
In the past, tattoo practice skin was often made of either plastic or rubber, neither of which provided a very life-like experience for tattoo artists wishing to perfect their crafts with the aid of these tools. Now there are two ideal options available to tattoo artists that make past options pale in comparison: Precision brand 2nd Skin and A Pound of Flesh silicone body parts. Each one has its own set of benefits, as described below.
Precision 2nd Skin Practice Tattoo Skin
2nd Skin was developed by Painful Pleasures as part of our Precision Tattoo Supply product line to provide tattoo artists with an affordable option for practicing line work, filling and shading and testing out new tattoo machines, other tattoo equipment, and new tattoo inks before trying them out on real clients. Precision 2nd Skin is available in 11" x 14", 6" x 6", and 4" x 4" sheets, so you can get just the sizes you need. Each sheet costs less than $10 ($5-$7 when purchased from our Wholesale Store), giving tattoo artists an affordable option for testing tattooing techniques and tattoo supplies alike without having to use themselves, their friends and family members, or clients as guinea pigs.
2nd Skin is made from leather that responds to tattoo needles, tattoo ink and tattooing techniques in a manner very similar to human skin. Each sheet of 2nd Skin comes with a Velcro strap so you can wrap it around your or a friend's arm or leg to give you realistic contours to follow as you practice your tattooing techniques. If you're nervous that you may accidentally tattoo right through the practice skin and into your test subject's skin, you can wrap 2nd Skin around inanimate objects instead. For instance, Velcro a sheet of 2nd Skin around the leg or arm of a chair, a canister of oat meal, a soup can, or any other cylindrical object that will give you the curves you want to get the most life-like layout possible.
Each sheet of 2nd Skin is blank, on both sides so you can get the most practice space possible from a single sheet of tattoo practice skin. When you're done creating a practice tattoo design on 2nd Skin that you're particularly proud of, you can frame it and hang it in your shop or at conventions to illustrate your tattooing abilities. Tattoo enthusiasts who admire your tattoos will likely love the opportunity to display your artwork both on their bodies and in their homes. That means that 2nd Skin doubles as both practice tattoo skin and artwork that you can sell alongside tattoo aftercare products as an intriguing upsell for your clients that will help you generate additional revenue.
Below you'll find steps for using Precision 2nd Skin Tattoo Practice Skin. If you're interested in purchasing a few sheets of 2nd Skin to try these steps yourself, you'll find it in our Tattoo Kits & Practice Skin section both by the sheet and in kits that also contain a few bottles of Futura tattoo ink and tattoo tubes. Note that practice tattoo skin provides a great opportunity for putting expired tattoo ink to good use; rather than throwing it away because you can't use it on your clients, use it to practice new techniques and test out new tattoo equipment.
|1) You will need a sheet of 2nd Skin and the image you're going to tattoo, along with a sheet of thermal paper.||2) Take your image and make a thermal copy using a thermal copier.|
|3) Cut out the thermal copy.||4) Apply the stencil using a stencil transfer product like Stencil-Pro on the sheet of Precision 2nd Skin.|
|5) Here's what your stencil will look like after it's been applied to the tattoo practice skin.||6) Tattoo the outline directly on the 2nd Skin. Make sure to keep a clean surface by wiping away excess ink.|
|7) After the outline has been filled in, it will look something like this.||See notes below for Working With Precision 2nd Skin.|
Notes About Working With 2nd Skin Tattoo Practice Skin
The person who completed the work shown in the "Steps for Using Precision 2nd Skin Tattoo Practice Skin" above is not a tattoo artist. In fact, this was the first time he ever picked up a tattoo machine, saw thermal paper, or used a stencil transfer formula. After a brief tutorial from a tattoo artist, including a basic rundown of how to operate the tattoo machine, he began his first practice tattoo on 2nd Skin and documented the process for your benefit.
We chose to show you a beginner's work to (A) illustrate how 2nd Skin practice skin can be used by anyone from a novice to an expert tattoo artist to practice or fine-tune their tattooing skills, and (B) demonstrate that you need a lot of practice--and preferably an apprenticeship as well--before you can tattoo well. Precision 2nd Skin Practice Tattoo Skin is an ideal tool for getting the tattooing practice you need.
The only steps involved in creating the black logo above were outlining and filling--no complex shading, highlighting, etc., were used. Those 2 simple steps are very difficult for a beginner, as you can see by the rudimentary completed design above (which is of our Pierced Tools logo, if you're curious). That's the beauty of 2nd Skin, though; no real flesh was harmed by this amateur tattoo! If an experienced tattoo artist had done the demonstration, it would also show how 2nd Skin can be used to practice more advanced techniques, like shading and highlighting, or even to just to create artwork to sell.
If you're a novice tattoo artist tattooing Precision 2nd Skin, like the artist who created the image above, we highly recommend acting as if you're tattooing real skin by using lubricating jelly and/or any stencil bond you would normally use while tattooing. Stencil bond will help your stencil stick to 2nd Skin Tattoo Practice Skin, and lubricating jelly makes cleaning up during and after tattooing much easier. Don't worry about wiping away lubricants and residual creams when you're done tattooing practice skin; your design will be permanent at that point and won't wipe away or be smudges during clean-up.
We'd love to see some of the work you've done on our 2nd Skin Tattoo Practice Skin. If you have some designs you're willing to share, please send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. As a token of our appreciation, we'll send you a coupon for 20% off your next Retail order or 12% off your next Wholesale or Distributor order, so you can save even more on 2nd Skin and other tattoo supplies.
A Pound of Flesh: The Next Generation in Tattoo Practice Skin
A Pound of Flesh was developed by tattoo artists Abraham Cobaxin and Shaun Miller to provide tattoo artists with tattoo practice skin surfaces that both feel like real skin and respond to tattooing more like real skin does than any other synthetic practice skin available on the market today. A Pound of Flesh (a.k.a. APOF) is made from soft, supple silicone that accepts tattoo needles and tattoo machines more naturally, plus it's shaped like body parts that give tattoo artists the advantage of practicing on more natural contours, like those found on feet, hands, and arms. Tattoo artists everywhere are utilizing APOF products to not only fine-tune their crafts, but also to create decorative pieces that they can display in their shops and at conventions and sell as artwork to tattoo enthusiasts interested in displaying their favorite artists' works not only on their bodies, but also in their homes.
Here are a few examples of the stunning artwork tattoo artists have been creating on A Pound of Flesh hands, arms and feet, compliments of the APOF Instagram page:
Benefits & Drawbacks of Practicing on APOF Products
A Pound of Flesh synthetic body parts offer tattoo artists a host of benefits unparalleled by other tattoo practice skin options. First, the soft, supple silicone material these faux body parts are made of accepts ink in a manner most similar to real skin, yielding the same bright colors and allowing artists to practice shading, lining, filling, and highlighting in a highly-realistic way. Since APOF products are shaped like real body parts, they also offer artists the advantage of improving their skills with tattooing contoured body parts, like people's hands, feet and arms. Since these faux body parts aren't connected to actual bodies, they also give artists the ability maneuver APOF products in any way necessary to achieve the best-looking tattoo designs. That may not be realistic when it comes to tattooing actual people, who can't rotate their hands or feet 360⁰ to give artists uncomplicated access to the areas they're tattooing, but it's still a useful advantage when practicing shading, highlighting, line work, and a variety of other techniques to prefect these skills before attempting them on real clients. The icing on the cake is that you can put your best APOF designs on display at conventions and in your shop to showcase your talents and even sell your APOF designs as custom artwork to interested clients.
Applying Stencils to A Pound of Flesh Tattoo Practice Skin Can Be Tricky
There are a couple minor drawbacks to working with A Pound of Flesh practice tattoo skin, but they're few compared to the many benefits these tools offer tattoo artists. One occasional complaint among tattoo artists who have worked with APOF products is that they tend to not take stencils nearly as well as real skin and Precision 2nd Skin Tattoo Practice Skin do, but that should come as no surprise since they're made form silicone rather than leather or absorbent natural skin. The workaround that most artists tout is using Sharpies, other permanent markers or even surgical markers to draw designs free-hand on APOF products before tattooing them.
The only other drawback to using A Pound of Flesh products is their cost. Precision 2nd Skin is typically priced under $10 per sheet retail, and it costs even when purchased from our Wholesale and Distributor Stores, which are open to industry professionals spending $100-$499.99 on Wholesale orders or $500+ on Distributor orders for tattoo and piercing supplies, software, body jewelry, and other shop supplies. A Pound of Flesh products, on the other hand, tend to range anywhere from $50 for an APOF hand to $150 for arm/hand combo pieces. There are so many benefits to working with APOF products--including their ability to be sold as artistic pieces to recoup supply costs--that the price is a minor deterrent for professional artists who want to refine their tattooing skills on the best tattoo practice skin available on the market.
According to the many tattoo artists who have discovered the benefits of working with A Pound of Flesh products and who swear that they're more life-like than any other tattoo practice skin options currently available, the price of these tattoo practice tools tends to be a minor issue for most artists. If you're interested in seeing for yourself how fantastic these products are, we recommend taking a test drive with one of the more affordably-priced options, like A Pound of Flesh hands. You can even purchase these items with custom-made display stands to allow you to more easily show off your work in your store and convention displays and add value to them as salable art pieces.
Weighing Your Tattoo Practice Skin Options
If price isn't an issue for you, we highly recommend starting out with A Pound of Flesh hands, feet and arms to practice your craft, try out new tattoo equipment, and create artistic pieces you can sell to your your prospective and current clients as displayable artwork. For those who are just getting started in tattooing or need a less expensive option for practicing, Precision 2nd Skin Tattoo Practice Skin is another quality alternative to consider. Whichever option you choose, you're sure to find that all of our tattoo practice skin options will provide you with the tools you need to perfect your craft and take your tattooing skills to the next level. These are worthwhile investments and training aids that artists of all skill levels are sure to find helpful, not to mention fun to play with.
To learn more about the tattoo practice skin options Painful Pleasures has to offer, visit our Tattoo Kits & Practice Skin page, or read our Does Practice Skin Feel Like Real Skin blog post to learn more about the great resources we carry just for aspiring and experienced tattoo artists.