xxx = Tips for tattooing Hands and Knuckles Fireside Technique EP 20 Tips_for_tattooing_Hands_and_Knuckles_Fireside_Technique_EP_20 Fireside Tattoo Network

Tattoo Techniques: Tips for tattooing Hands and Knuckles Fireside Technique EP 20

Tips for tattooing Hands and Knuckles | Fireside Technique | EP 20

Video By Jake Meeks —

Writing By Daniel Pushcarich —

Topics: Tattooing Hands, Tattooing Knuckles, Tattooing Fingers, Tattoo Techniques, Longevity in Tattoos, Difficult Tattoo Spots, Simplified Tattoo Designs For Hands and Knuckles

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In this Fireside Technique episode Jake discusses the unique challenges of tattooing hands, knuckles, and fingers. Focusing on simplifying designs for better longevity, he emphasizes strategic placement of details on areas that hold up well over time. 

Jake demonstrates his approach to tattooing an octopus, emphasizing the importance of consistency, patience, and deliberate techniques when working on knuckles and fingers. We’ll be taking a deeper look into what it takes to make a lasting tattoo in a really tough spot.

Consistency In The Inconsistency, Simplify For Tattooing Knuckles

“If I were to lay a couple of those suckers up on his hand where they’re gonna hold really well and then one or two of them on his knuckle they would fade inconsistently. Where as if I place them all on the knuckles and they happen to fall out, then they will fall out the same”

- Jake Meeks

Since knuckle and finger tattoos have a tendency to fade quickly we’re starting off by strategically laying out the focus of the design on the upper hand. Emphasize attention to areas like the back of the hand where you’ll have the least amount of effort, optimal detail, and the most retention over time. 

Laying out a tattoo design with a marker

Try to prioritize simplicity and looser, more abstract shapes around the knuckles and fingers. This octopus is a good example because it illustrates the efficient use of suckers on the knuckles as supporting design elements. Since the landscape of the fingers is unstable and a bit awkward, it ensures consistency despite potential fading challenges. 

Bold Will Hold?! Limiting Linework When Tattooing Fingers 

“When I’m down on knuckles and fingers I don’t really want super solid lines, I want to use abstract shapes. Because if it starts to fall out I don’t want to be real dependent on the sharp edges.”

- Jake Meeks

carefully grey washing in lines

When it comes to lining on the fingers, It might be better to approach it utilizing a dark gray wash for more of a subtle, permanent stencil rather than getting a clean bold edge. Depending on the style, opting for abstract shapes might mitigate potential fading or at the very least allow fading to seem more intentional. 

bold lines on the top of the hand

As you move to the top part of the hand, you can be more deliberate with your lines. Pushing contrast with bolder, crisp edges pulls the viewers attention, highlighting the focus of the tattoo rather than any supporting details.

Slow Down! Be Patient And Deliberate When Tattooing Knuckles

“Make sure you’re putting your client in the best position to stretch the skin and you’re not having to do all the work.”

- Jake Meeks

For shading and color packing you might want to opt for smaller needle configurations and a slower more deliberate approach.  If you’re using a mag make sure to not make too many sideways movements, since the skin around the fingers is so thin there’s a high potential for slicing or tearing to happen which can really hold up the process. You also might consider backing off the voltage a little so that you’re not beating the skin up too much. Efficiency is your goal with color packing to minimize the need for multiple sessions.

packing in color and values

Also, it’s important to position the client's hand for optimal skin stretching. Allowing the clients fingers to drape off the arm rest, holding and bending their finger while you pack color or do gray wash, and then having them move occasionally and then rest again to check your work. Again, intentional simplification of shapes and edges here due to any potential fading concerns.

final image with complete hand tattoo of an octopus



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Transcript for this video can be found (here). All transcripts can be found (Here)

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The Fireside Tattoo Network is home to the Fireside podcast, Fireside Technique video series and our Fireside Weekly blog.

The Fireside Tattoo podcast is hosted by veteran tattooer Jake Meeks, check out our episodes where we discuss, argue and wax philosophical, from tips for all levels of artists to trends in the tattoo world. Many guest artists have sat down for interviews and in-depth conversations and many more are planned…check back often!

Our Fireside Tattoo Overview video series offers informative, short, and detailed videos geared towards helping artists understand the science and nuances of tattoos and make more informed decisions to improve their work. We often take some of our more technical topics from our Fireside podcast and film an in-depth, narrated, time-lapse video showing exactly how Jake or our featured artists handle certain issues.

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