Wednesday, November 7, 2012

An Artist’s Guide To Tattoo Needles

Tattoo Needle Types Explained

Tattoo designs offer centuries of tradition that have evolved into the exquisite works of art seen today. Coupling the artist’s skill with the highest quality tools and equipment at affordable prices evokes a natural desire to indulge in creative innovation. In order to achieve the myriad effects in artistic renderings, an artist must have access to the proper tools – namely, a reasonable variety of tattoo needle sets.
Understandably, there are a lot of questions associated with the vast array of tattoo needles used in modern body art. This is a guide to the eight main high-quality tattoo needle groupings today’s artists use for basic designs and, also, to push the envelope. All needles are made from 316L stainless steel using lead-free solder, pre-sterilized with EO Gas and packaged individually in ready-to-use blister-packs. These single-use needles have been stamped with their respective sterilization expiration dates.
1. Round Liner Tattoo Needles – these are formed to a round, tight tip that is primarily used for outlining designs and effecting detail work. These liner needles have 1-14 needles on the bar. They are made with #12 Bugpins, the long 4mm taper results in sharper lines with less skin contact.
2. Bugpin Round Liners – this grouping is formed more closely together in a tight round tip for super-tight outlining and fine detail work. They are made with 3-14 needles on the bar and #8 Bugpins with a long 4mm taper to create sharper lines.
3. Round Shader Tattoo Needles – intended for use on small areas to effect shading, filling-in or blending colors. These shader needles are formed in a looser round tip made with 3-14 needles on the bar. Made with #12 Bugpins, the short 2mm taper allows for more skin contact in order to deposit more pigment.
4. Flat Shader Tattoo Needles – configured with multiple needles in a horizontal alignment for the purpose of defining geometric shapes, straight lines, lettering, shading or blending, depending on the artist’s design and preference. They are made with 4-9 needles on the bar and #12 Bugpins with the short 2mm taper for dispensing more pigment.
5. Magnum Tattoo Needles – these are used to pack in color when there are larger areas to fill or shade. Configured in a loose, straight alignment, every other needle is slightly tapered up to allow more surface coverage. They are made with 5-15 needles on the bar, #12 Bugpins and a short 2mm taper for greater skin contact for dispensing more pigment.
6. Bugpin Magnum Shader Tattoo Needles – intended to facilitate quick, smooth filling and packing when soft blending is needed. A tighter configuration than regular Magnums, they are ideal for creating portraits. These pre-made needles are composed of 5-17 needles on the bar, #8 Bugpins and a short 2mm taper for more skin contact to dispense more pigment.
7. Double Stack Magnum Tattoo Needles – configured with one row of needles stacked upon another to make two rows, not to be confused with regular Magnums, these are used for color packing, filling or shading larger areas. They come with 5-17 needles stacked on the bar using #12 Bugpins on a short 2mm taper to deliver more color.
8. Curved Magnum Tattoo Needles – sharing the same attributes as other Magnums with the exception of the outer needles setting shorter than the inside ones to create a curved shape. This is effective in achieving soft edges when filling and shading. They are made with 5-15 needles on the bar, #12 Bugpins and a short 2mm taper for delivering more pigment.
To browse through our massive selection of quality tattoo needles and all other related supplies – or simply to learn more about body art products in general – visit our online store at A Needle Supply logo appearing on selected items means free, standard 2-7 day shipping when the total order meets the $50 minimum. 


  1. this is super helpful!
    after reading i went and purchased a few of the bugpin liners and as always grabbed some disposable diamond tips as well!!
    post a blog about the black tattoo ink brands if you could. I've been going back and forth between dynamic, intenze and starbrite. just wanted to hear your thoughts!

  2. Hi Dolly,

    We're happy that this article helped you! Thank you for the suggestion regarding black tattoo inks. We'll start a discussion for black inks soon.

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