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Ask Guy Aitchison

Ask Guy 23

Q) When im tattooing and the tattoo requires to use a solid black in some areas, the tattoo doesn't look damaged or swollen when it's fresh, but when it starts to heal it tends to look damaged- a heavy scab and shiny look to it... what could this be?

A) It sounds like the solid areas might be just a little overworked. Sometimes you can work the skin a little past its limit but it won't necessarily show when it's fresh unless you go far enough to actually trench or chew up the skin. When surrounded by other fresh swollen work, it won't necessarily look overworked. If your healing problems are confined mostly just to these solid areas, try either working them a little bit less- lower power, or getting in and out quicker. Another thing you could try is different needle groups- if you are using round shaders or stacked mags, it's easy to overwork the skin. Spread mags are good for creating not only smooth gradients but solid black as well. If you are already using spread mags, maybe try a smaller one, even a 5 or 7 mag, for the purpose of doing the solid black areas. Get in and out quickly. Then, to ensure its solidity, clean off the area and squirt some clean water onto it, and look at it closely when wet- you'll see the flaws and gaps in teh shading more clearly this way (works great on dark skin!). after doing the water test, go back in with your liner and try zipping through the gaps- by finishing out the solid area with a smaller needle you can be more surgical about where you poke holes, potentially avoiding any overworking. When in doubt, underworking is preferable- better to have to touch up something that healed light than something that scabbed heavily, cracked, got infected etc. It's one of the hazards of the business- but try these steps and you should be able to minimize the problem.