Which are the best pens for tattoo stencils?
Let’s divide them into three categories.
For one, there are surgical markers for the skin.
Then, there are pens and pencils for drawing on transfer paper.
And finally, there are quills or fountain pens to use with stencil ink on paper.
Today’s reviews will cover all three types of the best stencil pens for tattoos.
Let’s begin with some background information about making stencils.
The three types of tattoo stencil pens
Professional artists use stencils for guidelines. It makes perfect sense to draft the design beforehand as the tattoo can’t be erased.
In the first case, a stencil may be drawn freehand on the skin with a Sharpie or surgical marker.
Sharpie markers tend to bleed more than surgical pens. The ink wipes off easily with green soap or alcohol. But, they are cheap and easy to find online and in stores.
Just be sure to double-check two things. Make sure the Sharpie is AP-certified according to ASTM regulations. This simply means it’s non-toxic. Not all Sharpies are.
And second, verify that the tip size will work for you. Sharpies come in fine and broad points. (The finest point version may not be non-toxic. But you could use it for drawing on carbon paper).
Usually, the markers are sterile, single-use items. That’s crucial as it’s possible to transfer hepatitis B (and other germs) from one client to the next by using the same marker.
Finally, you can use a hectograph or stencil ink in a fountain pen or with a quill. You’ll see examples in the reviews below.
No matter what type of stencil pen you use, it’s essential to cleanse the skin of body oil first. In that way, the ink will be less likely to bleed and more likely to stay put.
Here are more details on creating stencils for tattoos.
How to make tattoo stencils
Most stencils are made with transfer paper, also known as carbon paper.
You don’t need to have a thermal printer to make stencils. You can draw on the carbon paper freehand with a pen or pencil. The pressure ensures that the carbon transfers to the stencil paper.
Artists usually have a favorite ballpoint pen or hard graphite pencil that they enjoy using. I’ve put some suggestions for you in the reviews below.
Please remember that the design will come out mirrored, or in reverse. You might have to use a lightbox to trace it in reverse first to come out with the correct orientation. Don’t let this confuse you as you’ll be flipping the stencil over anyway to apply it to the skin.
(Practice with some transfer paper and you’ll see what I mean).
If you freehand on paper with stencil ink and a calligraphy pen, you’ll need high-quality sheets that won’t fall apart when they get wet. Look for 100% rag content and a thick texture.
Once it’s time to transfer the tattoo, stencil gel can help it stick better and hold up longer while you’re working. Follow the directions and practice. It’s not as easy as it looks.
Otherwise, you can freehand with a marker directly on the skin. You might find it advantageous to use different-colored inks to help you stick to the original design once you’re inking for real.
Best Pens for Tattoo Stencils
Let’s look at the best skin markers for freehand tattooing now.
Surgical markers and stencil pens for freehanding stencils on the skin
We’ll begin with the markers that doctors use to prepare for surgery. You might see them in salons that do piercings, too.
Medline DYNJSM02 Regular Tip Surgical Skin Markers
This is the real deal. Medline’s medical-grade markers contain gentian violet ink. It’s permanent and safe for the skin. It’s also antiseptic to avoid transferring microbes.
Moreover, these markers could be used more than once as they have a decent-sized ink reservoir.
To get a crisp line, clean the skin and dry it. If you trace the outline with a Sharpie, then use the medical marker, the Sharpie ink creates a layer that prevents bleeding.
Be sure to check that you have the tip size you prefer. Very small tips will clog faster, but they are excellent for doing details.
Viscot Mini XL Purple Surgical Ultra Fine Tip Skin Scribe Markers
Viscot is a brand of medical marker that many tattoo artists use.
The specially-designed ink resists fading even when scrubbed with alcohol or other skin prep solutions. The ink won’t run out quickly, either.
Reviewers say that it’s best to let the ink dry for a couple of minutes before touching it.
Choose from fine or bold tips. The fine tip is comparable to a 0.7mm ballpoint pen, and the bold is like a felt tip marker.
Hildbrandt Tattoo Skin Scribe Pen Dual-Tip Marker
Here’s a skin marker from a tattoo supply company. It’s reported to be good enough for medical use as it’s smudge-resistant.
Unfortunately, some reviewers are not as pleased with these pens as they are with other brands.
ZXUEZHENG Surgical Tip Markers, 0.5mm
The fine tip surgical markers here are a Chinese brand with non-toxic medical ink. They are best-sellers, possibly because they aren’t as expensive as some brands.
One reviewer who does microblading for permanent makeup said that the ink is wipe-resistant. Green soap can remove it, but it requires scrubbing.
Tondaus Tattoo Surgical Pen Marker, white ink
The ultra-fine tip on this surgical pen is ideal for doing intricate designs. Flip it over, and you’ll have a fine tip for outlining.
The white gentian ink is non-toxic and resistant to fading and wiping. It’s perfect for stenciling on dark skin tones.
Sharpie Retractable Permanent Markers, Ultra Fine Point
Black Sharpies are the classic choice, but there are 24 other colors as well. All of them come in a retractable format with an ultra-fine point.
The ink is AP-certified, which means it’s non-toxic to the skin. Not everyone loves the smell, but it’s relatively fade-resistant.
Skin Companion Twin Tip Tattoo Pen
Skin Companion pens are made for temporary tattoos. The non-toxic ink won’t come off easily in the shower. It lasts for a couple of days, easy.
Therefore, they are another good choice for stenciling tattoos. Also, use them if you need to revive the stencil that’s fading near the end of the sitting.
The German-made markers have two tips, one on either end. One is medium, and the other is fine.
They come in a rainbow of colors.
BIC BodyMark Temporary Tattoo Marker
BIC’s body markers have a flexible felt tip that works for thick and thin lines. They come as individual markers or in a pack of eight.
The manufacturer warns that you shouldn’t use them near the eyes or the mouth. They may not be safe for sensitive skin. Also, you can remove the ink by washing with soap and scrubbing a bit.
In their favor, they were created in collaboration with tattoo artist Miryam Lumpini.
Pens and pencils for tattoo stencil paper
Now that we’ve covered tattoo stencil markers for the skin, here are the tools you need to use tattoo stencil paper instead.
Tombow MONO Drawing Pencil, 4H
The 4H pencil’s hardness is ideal for drawing on carbon paper to create stencils.
The graphite that Tombow uses is resistant to breaking, and it retains its point for quite a while without the need for sharpening. Then, when you do sharpen them, the ends don’t snap off easily.
Furthermore, the cedar wood is coated in a black lacquer finish that feels nice in the hand.
Pilot Acroball M Retractable Advanced Ink Ball Point Pen
You can’t beat a ballpoint pen for making stencils on transfer paper. This one is retractable and comfy to hold.
It happens to be the Japanese version with a rubber grip and a 0.5mm point. The fine point is suitable for complex details and precise lettering.
Happily, it’s refillable as I suspect you’ll love it for more than just stenciling.
Pentel BK90A R.S.V.P. Stick Ballpoint Pen, 0.7mm
For general-purpose drawing, you can’t beat the Pentel 0.7mm ballpoint pen.
The ink reservoir lasts forever. Plus, the tip can take a lot of abuse, but still lays down a smooth line.
There’s a non-latex Comfort Zone grip that squishes a little bit when you squeeze. It helps keep the hand from getting tired on big jobs.
Zebra Pen G-402 Stainless Steel Retractable Gel Pen, 0.5mm
If you prefer gel pens, here’s one with a fine point. The ink doesn’t bleed through paper, yet it’s smooth and consistent. It’s ideal for precise work.
Zebra’s retractable design features a steel body and a non-slip rubber grip as well.
When the ink runs low, unscrew the pen to refill it with a new cartridge.
ReproFX Spirit Green Sheet Thermal Tattoo Stencil Transfer Paper
We’ve covered the best stencil pens, and we’ve mentioned transfer paper.
But there’s something crucial you should know.
This is thermal paper for use with thermal printers. Thankfully, there’s no problem in using it to freehand stencils. You don’t have to use a printer at all.
Sadly, the reverse isn’t true. If you purchase transfer paper for freehand drawing, chances are you can’t use it in a thermal printer or copier.
Then, there’s one other thing to notice here.
This is green paper, not the typical purple. It’s exactly what you need when you’re stenciling dark skin tones because it’s a high-visibility color.
Be sure to use green transfer cream with it.
Calligraphy pens for hectograph ink
Dip pens, quills, fountain pens, and calligraphy pens are handy for freehand stenciling on the skin. All you need is the appropriate hectograph ink.
Speedball Sketching Pen Set
Speedball makes one of the least expensive pen sets. This one contains two pen holders and six pen tips.
One holder is called the Crow Quill. The other is a standard calligraphy pen.
Each of the flexible nibs allows you to experiment with different styles and sizes of lines.
There are also instructions and examples to get you started.
Electrum Nox Violet Tattoo Stencil Ink
Here is the hectograph ink, also known as stencil ink, for a dip pen. It was developed with artist Natalie Nox. She is famous for hand-painted stencils.
The non-toxic ink is kind to the skin and resistant to wiping. You can make it last even longer by applying a primer.
The attractive ink bottle comes with a dropper for precise dispensing.
Moreover, if you have an eco-tank printer that allows you to add ink, you can use this product to print a stencil.
Electrum Tattoo Premium Transfer Stencil Primer Gel
No matter how you apply the stencil, you can make it last longer with primer.
This gel is appropriate for carbon paper stencils and Sharpies as well as stencil ink like the one above.
It’s vegan and non-toxic, made in the USA from skin-safe ingredients. It smells nice, too.
Users say to let it dry a little bit, then apply the stencil while the gel is tacky.
Put down the deodorant and upgrade to Stencil Stuff. It’s what the pros use to transfer stencils and make them last through the session.
Stencil Tracing Paper
This paper is appropriate for hand-drawing stencils with the ink above, or you can put it in an inkjet printer.
It’s thick and sturdy and won’t tear if you go over the design. It doesn’t fall apart easily when wet and takes the ink well without bleedthrough.
It’s worth it to get the best tools for the job as you’ll create better results.
Experiment with tattoo stencil pens to find out what works best for your style of art.
If you found something new today that you enjoy using, come back and drop us a comment about it.
1. https://wiki.bme.com/index.php?title=Surgical_Marker accessed September 16, 2020
2. https://wiki.bme.com/index.php?title=Gentian_Violet accessed September 16, 2020