Tattoo Tools: The Different Types of Tattoo Ink and Needles

types of tattoo ink
Are you looking to become a tattoo artist? Learn more with this guide to the different types of tattoo ink and needles to get started.

Nothing makes you happier than creating beautiful art. That’s why you want to join the more than 30,000 tattooists working in the United States!

But, before you can start tattooing humans, you need to research and practice your skills with the tools of the trade. Some of the most important tattoo tools are tattoo needles and the ink used to create the tattoos.

We put together a quick guide to explain the different types of tattoo ink and needles available today. Keep reading to find out how to stock your tattoo kit with the best supplies.

Types of Tattoo Ink

A recent survey found that, of the people who have tattoos, about 70% of them have more than one. You want to have the best ink so your piece will stand out from the rest and resist fading.

Stable Pigment Ink

If you love bold bright tattoos like the old-school masters, you’ll need stable pigments to get that look. Stable pigments are the most bright and bold tattoo ink colors on the market!

Keep in mind that these colors come concentrated and you’ll need to mix and thin them out before using them in your machine. But it’s not a ton of extra work, and it yields a much brighter color effect.

Pre-dispersed Ink

If you like grab-and-go convenience, this is the tattoo ink for you! The colors come ready to use in the bottle with no thinning or mixing needed.

The only drawback to these is that mixing different brands of ink can look pretty funky. If you want to try mixing a custom color, make sure to use the same brand of ink to get the best results.

Best Ink Brands on the Market

Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to ink brands. These are our favorite brands on the market today:

  • Bloodline Ink
  • Eternal Ink
  • Alla Prima
  • Intenze Tattoo Ink
  • Skin Candy
  • Arcane Tattoo Inks
  • Kuro Sumi
  • Dynamic Tattoo Ink

Consider asking other artists that do similar work to yours about what inks they use. You should also try a few different inks out to find out which one you like best.

Tattoo Needles

The other most important piece of tattoo equipment is the needle of your machine. Think of it as choosing a type of paintbrush before putting paint on a canvas.

These are the most common types of tattoo needles

Flat Tattoo Needles

The flat needle arrangement is a set of needles soldered to the bar in a straight line. Most tattoo artists like to use these for tattoo lining to get crisp edges.

Round Tattoo Needles

For tattoo artists who hate changing out the needle between lining and shading, a round needle could work best! These have one needle in the middle surrounded by several more needles in a round pattern. You can’t get thin lines with a round needle, but you can get chunky Japanese-style lines.

Magnum Tattoo Needles

These styles of needles are the best for packing loads of color into the skin while shading. You won’t need to make many passes to get solid color with a magnum needle, so the client’s skin won’t get as damaged as with a round needle. There are 3 main kinds of magnum needles to know about:

Stacked Magnum Needles

These have 2 rows of needles placed on either side of the bar. The needles sit so close together that they look like they’re touching. 

Weaved Magnum Needles

The weaved magnum needle looks like the stacked magnum, but the needles sit a little farther apart on the bar. They tend to cover a little more skin without as much risk of tearing or damaging the skin.

Round/Curved Needles

Some modern tattoo artists came up with a new way to arrange magnum needles where the center needles are the longest and they taper to shorter ones on either end. Artists who use the curved needles say they conform to the curves of the body better and leave even less damage!

Tattoo Needle Terms to Know

If you haven’t taken a good tattoo course, you may not know some of the terms used when talking about needles and tattoo machines. Here are a couple of those terms to remember when looking at which needles you want to buy.


Some tattoo machines use a cartridge of needles that you can replace with a click. These are super easy to use, but they aren’t cheap and only some machines can use them.

Bug Pins

This type of needle is like a magnum but much smaller at only 0.20mm to 0.25mm thick. Many tattoo artists like to use these kinds of needles for detailed shading work.

One thing to note when using a bug pin needle is that you need a smaller tube than you would think. Make sure to read the recommendation from the manufacturer before you use the needle for the first time.

Making Living Art One Tattoo at a Time

Finding a way to monetize your artistic passion leads to a fulfilling life. That’s why so many people try their hand at tattooing.

But you need to practice and use quality tools to earn a reputation in the tattoo world. Keep this article in mind when you go to stock your tattoo kit so you know your art will look great!

We hope you enjoyed reading this article and that you learned about the different types of tattoo ink and needles. If you have questions or if you’re looking for a tattoo course in central Florida, contact us today!