How Does Tattoo Transfer Paper Works? [Ultimate Guide]

Tattoo transfer paper is an easy way to make a quick and temporary tattoo for you or your kids. The purpose of the transfer paper is to keep the ink from going in your skin, so it will be easier to remove when you are done with it.

All you have to do is put water on the back of the paper, then apply it to clean skin before putting the stencil down on top. Once everything has been lined up properly, press hard while rubbing firmly and carefully until all of the design has transferred onto your skin. Next, wait about 10 minutes for things to dry before peeling off both pieces of paper together!

Tattoo transfer paper is a straightforward way to remove tattoos. It’s much cheaper than laser removal and can be done in the comfort of your own home. If you consider getting rid of an old tattoo, we highly recommend using this product for the best results!

You need to know some things before purchasing and applying it, though, so make sure to check out our handy guide below on how to use tattoo transfer paper correctly!

What is tattoo transfer paper, and how does it work?

Tattoo transfer paper is a type of stencil that comes in the form of a thin plastic sheet. They are available at most tattoo shops and can be utilized by both artists and everyday users. Some people call them flash sheets, some cling-film transfers –– but we prefer to use the correct name because it’s more official! πŸ˜‰

If you’re planning on using them to stencil your own designs, do not throw them away once you’ve finished with them, as they can also serve as another kind of reusable stencil for multiple future uses (which I’ll mention later in this post).

How does tattoo transfer paperwork?

To get a better idea about how to tattoo transfer paper works, let’s take a closer look at them:

A design in the form of a computer image is printed onto special tattoo transfer paper.

Usually, they are single-use products but can be reused by placing another sheet on top (if you have stenciled two or more images onto one piece of tattoo transfer paper). This way, it’s possible to create multiple layers and layer your stencils to make solid lines with bold darker colors! 

The first step is to print your desired tattoo pattern from your standard ink printer. By doing so, you’re only going to be able to print on one side for each copy of the original design since some printers may smudge the backside while copying due to their rollers and ink. Print the backside of your tattoo paper; you can select “double-sided” or “duplex printing” under printer settings.

When using computer software ( Photoshop, CorelDraw, etc.), it’s easy to flip, rotate and resize your original image before printing. To save ink when printing on a laser printer, try choosing 1- or 2-colors instead of 4- or 8-color when selecting outline/to fill colors in your design. The more ink used per area, the thicker your transfer lines will be.

Still, confused? For a real working example of how to tattoo transfer, paper works through these stages, click here for the video.

Once printed and dry after an hour or two at most, take your transfer paper and place it on top of your skin.

How to use tattoo transfer paper?

1. choose a design

2. Make sure the transfer paper is placed on top of the design you want tattooed (image facing down)

3. Place your skin between two sheets of clear plastic and make sure to tape them together so that it is secure but not too tight around your body part (for example, if I’m transferring an image of a palm tree onto my forearm, I’ll use 2 wrap-around ace bandages – one above and below the transfer paper). You don’t want your skin getting stuck in the printer!

4. Take a normal inkjet printer (with clean cartridges) and place your original artwork face up in front of it with rubber mat(s) underneath to protect the surface from ink spills during printing.

5. In the printer settings, select “photo” instead of regular paper and print on a photo setting with only 150 dpi. Please don’t do it on thicker paper, but rather use cardstock or something similar.

6. Wait until your image has completely dried, and then place it onto your skin (paper side down). Then, you are ready to go!

I would recommend doing this in a well-lit room so that you can better make out any smudges or ink residue from the printer. I also try to clean my skin before placing the tattoo transfer paper because if there is dirt there, the chances are that it will show up as an extra line in your final design since this type of paper comes off easily enough if rubbed or picked at repeatedly.

When should I use tattoo transfer paper?

The simple answer is: Whenever you don’t want an exact copy of your original tattoo.

For those who aren’t familiar with the concept, let me explain how this amazing paper works. Tattoo transfer paper contains special inks made especially for this purpose. They do not use the same pigments used to create tattoo ink; instead, they contain particles that blend in with your skin or can be easily covered up.

Tips for using tattoo transfer paper correctly

Here are some important things to remember:

1. Make sure that the paper you choose is made especially for this purpose. All of the major brands (like Flashback or Skin Candy) have a line of transfer paper. Don’t try to use regular drawing, sketching, or printer paper because it won’t work.

Tip: Check the back label of your tattoo transfer paper and look for a number that states how many layers deep it can be applied without smudging out. My favorite brand only lasts up to two layers deep before smudging begins, but I’ve seen other brands go as deep as three or four layers with very minimal smudging after time has passed.

2. Keep in mind that if you can see through the tattoo transfer paper, that means the skin underneath it is not properly protected. Therefore, you need to go over your tattoo with a fresh layer of regular transfer paper so that everything is protected from ink seeping out under it before applying your transfer sheets.

3. Make sure you apply at least 2 or 3 layers of regular transfer paper. DO NOT USE THAT SMALL AMOUNT OF PAPER THEY SEND YOU IN THE PACKAGE. These companies are just trying to make more money by making you buy more products than necessary. After 5-10 minutes, pull off all your layers, and then you’re ready to apply the first tattoo sheet.

4. Prepare yourself mentally for what may lie ahead if you’ve never done this before (the peeling). It’s OK if you end up pulling off some skin in the process. It will eventually grow back, I promise!

5. Apply your first tattoo sheet over the transfer paper with a mirror in one hand and a flashlight in the other hand so that you can see better.

6. Take note of which direction to apply because they are different for each company (meaning don’t flip it around, later on, thinking you need to – check before applying). If you’re using Red/Black tattoo sheets, I recommend taking off all your regular transfer paper as most companies instruct their customers to do when using these particular sheets. Still, others may not ask for this extra step, so follow their instructions instead if need be.

Follow the same steps for every transfer paper sheet that you need to apply.

7. If you are using an R/B tattoo paper where the instructions tell you not to use acetone to cleanse your skin, I recommend doing it this way: most transfer papers will stick better without any residue or oil on your skin from something like a lotion, so I recommend cleansing with soap and water (not body wash) then drying off completely before putting on a single layer of baby powder over the area in which you will be applying the sheets.

This is only if they ask for no acetone or don’t specifically say not to use anything at all. After that, go ahead and apply the sheets as usual above it. Do NOT get regular tattoo transfer paper wet!


I hope you have got the idea about the transfer paper. You can use transfer paper to get the first line or outline of your tattoo. At last, I hope it’s helpful for you.

Thank you so much for reading this article on how to tattoo transfer paper works. If you have any questions related to the tattoo transfer paper, please let me know in the comments below.
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