Here in Seoul and in neighboring cities, we don't see cherry blossoms until after a very long cold winter. We're going for a picnic under the blossom trees, so to prepare for this occasion we're applying cherry blossom tattoos. I'm pretty sure these tattoos will make the picnic better.
In this step by step guide for applying printable tattoos, we'll not only go over tips for printing your tattoo, how DPI and Transparency affect your results, but also how to best apply your tattoo, and how to look after it, so be sure to read through all the way to the end. You'll be a master at it!
First of all, we have two types of Tattoo Paper; Inkjet and Laser, we recommend the latter, because Laser tattoo simply has by far the best natural finish. The reasons boil down to the major differences in Inkjet and Laser which we take for granted when printing onto paper but are extremely different when it comes to tattoo paper. Here's why we recommend Laser:
Laser Tattoo Paper:
- 0.1mm thickness, least noticeable film.
- No clear sealing spray required.
- Is far more water resistant but is also prone to cracking.
- Inkjet may produce nicer color images.
Inkjet Tattoo Paper:
- 0.4mm thickness, slightly more noticeable.
- Requires a clear sealing coat to be applied.
- Doesn't crack but we advise to not cut into the printed design as it may weaken the tattoo.
- Produces nicer color images.
The difference in thickness is because Inkjet Tattoo Paper is designed to enclose ink which would be otherwise water soluble. There are measures you can take to reduce the artificial appearance, we will go over them, but recommend Laser for it's sheer simplicity and fast results.
For this tutorial we'll be going with the clear option as it's easy to cut out and the edges aren't noticeable, whereas white tattoo paper will definitely benefit from a machine cutter or laser cutter. White Tattoo Paper was one of the first tattoo paper options and is still used today for dark surfaces because printers simply don't print light colors, they are designed to print onto already white surfaces (paper). In the event that you want to print a design that uses white colors onto a clear decal paper, we recommend using a white toner laser printer. However, generally speaking, you really don't need to print white for realistic looking tattoos as real tattoos rarely use white ink.
Sunnyscopa adhesive sheets meet FBA standards and they are just as harmless as band aids.
Now that we have chosen our Tattoo Paper, we next need to choose our designs, and we want to make sure our printer isn't set up to print text, instead we want it to print as high quality as possible.
Your Tattoo Paper will come with instructions in English on how to best print and apply your Tattoos, but in this article I'll include some extra tricks to help you get the most out of your Tattoo Paper.
Choosing your Designs
Here are some things to bare in mind when choosing your Tattoo Paper designs.
Placement largely determines how long your tattoo will last. Try to apply your tattoos away from joints, ideally stick to flat regions, however if you must, make sure to stretch your skin before applying the tattoo. It's good to do this out of habit, but we recommend you definitely stretch it before applying to places like your fingers, wrists and ankles.
People tend to forget that Tattoo Paper is a cosmetic product, and apply it onto knees, elbows. This leads to the tattoo falling off as your skin is far stretchier than the tattoo. Besides, you wouldn't want to stretch your design, perhaps this is why we rarely find even real tattoos on joints as they look drastically different when the joint is bent.
Lastly, try to keep the tattoo away from sweat regions. Ironically the tattoo will be fine in the shower, but as you can imagine, too much sweat buildup under the tattoo over time can make the tattoo fall off.
Printers don't print White Ink
Since printers are designed to print onto paper, most of them don't print white ink. Unless you've got a White Toner Laser Printer, or you're using White Tattoo Paper, you'll want to choose designs where you don't mind seeing your skin for the white parts. It's actually really uncommon to find real tattoos with white ink.
However if you're really keen, you can add white ink yourself to the back of the tattoo if you have a white marker, but we recommend you check it's definitely non-toxic.
Get your skin ready
In all seriousness, I wouldn't include this step if it wasn't necessary. Hair, dust, grease, oil, all reduce how effectively the tattoo adheres to your skin. Depending on how much longevity you want to get out of your tattoo, you may want to even shave the "baby hairs" on your skin to avoid any tiny amounts of moisture from going under the tattoo and weakening the adhesive, although baby hairs may be a bit excessive. Just ensure you've shaved and cleaned the areas you're applying to. There's a reason why people are able to get around 2 weeks out of their tattoos.
Manual Tray / Multi-Purpose Tray
Firstly as you may have noticed in your own instructions, we recommend the manual tray for printing because it's designed for miscellaneous paper like Tattoo Papers and Decal Papers. Simply put, paper has a different texture and thickness. The usual paper tray is designed to grab one page out at a time, whereas the manual tray was made for purposes like this. You just gently push it in and the printer will grab it from you, however you may still need to change the settings to Label Paper Thickness (175g or higher) just to be safe unless your printer manual states otherwise.
With printers being designed to print faster and faster, I'm sure you understand that you may need to change the printer settings to "Max Resolution". It'll print slower, but nicer. We also recommend to use a Laser printer that has a dpi of at least 600 dpi so that the printing pattern is least noticeable. DPI (short for Dots-Per-Inch) refer to how many dots your printer prints per inch.
We'll soon include a link to a guide for making the most out of higher DPI printers, but in the meantime 600 DPI is definitely plenty for tattoos.
By changing the opacity of your image, you'll also be changing how transparent your final tattoo will be. We recommend an opacity of 80% for a realistic tattoo. This trick is very useful in making your tattoo look older, like as if it's faded over time. This is especially important for those using temporary tattoos on models or actors. Typically, the ratio opacity is as follows, but please bare in mind this can vary depending how opaque your existing image is:
- 100%: Cosmetic. Looks like ink on your skin.
- 80%: Tattoo within the 1st month.
- 60%: Tattoo after 1 year.
- 40%: Tattoo after 3 years.
- 20%: Tattoo after 5 years.
Image Editor (e.g Photoshop): Each layer has an individual opacity setting.
Google Docs: Image Options > Adjustments > Transparency
Microsoft Word: Format Shape > Transparency
Mirror Your Image
Don't forget this step before printing, unless you intend for your tattoo to only be readable from your bathroom mirror. Here are the shortcuts:
Photoshop: Image > Image Rotation > Flip Canvas Horizontal
Illustrator: Image > Transform > Reflect
Gimp: Image > Transform > Flip Horizontally
Google Docs: (only for images inserted as "drawings") Actions > Rotate > Flip Horizontally
Microsoft Word: Format > Rotate > Flip Horizontal
Here are our Cherry Blossom tattoos printed in a nice resolution. We stuck with 100% opacity as we want it to look more cosmetic considering the colors are gentle. If you have any text, it should be backwards.
Drawing onto Tattoo Paper
I'm including this as a step incase you want to add any final touches to your printed tattoo. Using waterproof markers you can add little handwritten messages. You may also add white ink to your printed tattoo if you have the appropriate marker - this is a great trick for if you don't have a White Toner Laser Printer and don't want the strong white appearance of White Tattoo Paper. Make sure to apply white ink gently over the design, as to not damage the design.
The marker is unlikely to come in contact with the skin because it'll be enclosed between two layers, and most markers are completely harmless, but we still recommend you check in the event your marker causes a skin reaction.
Pen and Pencil are too sharp / pointy and damage the tattoo paper, so we don't recommend them, but you may try to use these if you feel experimental.
Spraying Acrylic Coating (inkjet only)
The most important thing when creating realistic tattoos with Inkjet Tattoo Paper is the acrylic spray you use to seal the ink. We strongly recommend you stick with Krylon Crystal Clear Acrylic Coating as we can say with confidence that it's skin safe much like our tattoo paper and secondly, it has an excellent crystal finish meaning minimal trapped air inside your tattoo. Air pockets created by bad acrylic coatings are what ruin Inkjet Tattoo Paper and cause the film appearance. The glossiness itself is otherwise easily reduced at the end.
In a well ventilated area, you want to apply 3-5 even coats on the printed side of your Inkjet Tattoo Paper. When spraying, you want to spray 30cm (arms length) away from the Tattoo Paper. Professionals start spraying away from the page and run straight lines along the page, never stopping or changing direction on the page. We recommend the same method to ensure an even coat.
Applying the adhesive
Our Tattoo package contains; 5 sheets of printing paper and 5 sheets of adhesive sheets, hence a 5 pack.
To tell the two apart, the printing paper is white and the adhesive sheet is glossy.
This step looks tricky but that's why I'm here to show you the trick. We peel back a corner of the adhesive, and fold it.
With careful alignment, the exposed corner gets stuck down on to the printed image side of your Tattoo Paper. I can't stress enough that the trick lies in how well you align your corner. It's really easy to do, yet at the same time easy to misalign if rushed. The rest of the adhesive is just applied while slowly removing the protective film. We recommend a ruler to avoid air bubbles.
Should you have some excess adhesive hanging off the edges of your tattoo paper, don't worry as long as your tattoo has adhesive on it. You can cut the excess off. Which brings me to the next step...
Cutting Out your Tattoos
I've included some tips here to help you get the most out of your Tattoo Paper.
Cut close to your designs for best results. It looks more desirable and we've actually found many cases where the tattoo lasts longer if you cut around the edges. I think this is because the ink thickens the tattoo, making it more durable and more resistant to peeling. However if you're using Inkjet Tattoo Paper, try your best to not cut directly through the design because you'll be exposing the ink, and inkjet is water soluble.
Put away any tattoos you haven't used in a tight sealed bag. This is just a friendly remind. Tattoo Paper degrades over time from exposure to air. Typically, unused Inkjet Decal Paper has a shelf life of 1 year, unused Laser Decal Paper has a shelf life of 5 years but this is only accelerated if you leave the these exposed to moisture and humidity. We keep our tattoos in a resealable bag out of good habit.
I present to you, our chic cherry blossom hand tattoo! I heard handshakes leave a big impression, and we use our hands for virtually everything. Temporary hand tattoos are a great way to add a little character to an outfit.
We will now apply the tattoo.
Removing the Protective Film
You may notice on the face of you tattoo is a clear film, using a clever trick, we can easily peel this back to expose the sticky adhesive. We've hardened our protective film so that the following works; fold the very edge of your tattoo backwards (towards the white backing), this will separate the two layers so that you can remove the rest of the protective film. We recommend folding the very edge of a sharp corner, check if the exposed image is sticky, then you can peel the rest of the film off.
Apply the tattoo
As previously mentioned, for best results make sure the area is clean, hairless, and ideally not on a joint.
Stretch your skin and apply the tattoo, image against the skin. We especially recommend stretching your skin for areas like wrists, fingers, and ankles so that the tattoo can freely expand and contract with your skin. This will also make it far more comfortable to wear.
Press down the tattoo to improve how much surface area has touched your skin. You may even gently rub the tattoo in, just don't be too rough incase you accidentally pull it off the skin. The reason we
Wet the backing
Now that the tattoo is nicely stuck down, using a cotton pad or tissue, apply lukewarm water to the white backing until the backing gently slides off, and voila!
Looking after your tattoo
Removing the gloss is super easy, we have two tricks for mattifying your tattoo.
- Baby Powder: It's readily available, you pat the tattoo with baby powder until you achieve your desired matte finish.
- Baby Lotion: This less messy alternative can also help your achieve your desired matte finish by rubbing it on with your hands.
Too much water can disintegrate the tattoo. Our staff can confidently say that they are able to take hot showers with the tattoo, but this drastically reduces the longevity from 2 weeks to 3-4 days. Therefore, although it is completely waterproof, be aware that the tattoo is weaker when wet and we do recommend you try to keep it dry.
Can I use lotion? You may apply lotion, and most creams on top of it without any problems. Most makeup removers should also be fine, but do bare in mind that rubbing the tattoo when wet can damage it.
It's not invincible. Our Tattoo Paper is really durable and very popular during the summer, but like any other cosmetic, and your skin for that matter, these tattoos can be damaged if trapped under tight clothes. To best avoid any incidents that could damage your tattoo, we recommend wearing tight fitting clothes around the tattoo and being careful when pulling up sleeves. Backpack straps can damage your tattoo, likewise shoes can also rub and damage the tattoo. As long as you're mindful of this, you shouldn't have a problem.
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