9 of the Best Tattoo Transfer Papers on the Market
While a handful of tattoo artists still draw their designs directly onto their client’s skin using marker pens, the vast majority of tattoos are now outlined using tattoo stencils. This ensures you get the exact design you’re after and there are no surprises. But how are tattoo designs transferred from paper to skin? That’s where tattoo stencil paper comes in.
Depending which type of tattoo transfer paper you choose, you can either print out a digital image or freehand a design onto the master sheet. Next, you’ll trace over the design to imprint ink onto the back of it from your chosen carbon paper. This is then applied to the skin using a soap solution or specifically designed products, and the stencil is then used as a guideline by the tattooist.
New to tattooing and not sure which tattoo transfer paper will create the best tattoo stencils? Or maybe you’re just looking to upgrade your current tattooing arsenal and want some advice. Either way, read on for our top 9 tattoo stencil papers and their benefits.
1. Pirate Face Tattoo Transfer Stencil Paper
Widely used by tattoo artists around the world, this popular tattoo transfer paper by Pirate Face is highly rated for its crisp, clear stencils. Suitable for both freehand designs and those printed using a thermal copier, this quality 4ply tattoo stencil paper is used to create some of the best tattoo stencils out there. Available in packs of 15 sheets, the carbon layer used to create the stencil is a classic purple colour, protected by a removable sheet until you’re ready to use it.
2. Numbskin Stencil Pro Tattoo Transfer Paper
Known primarily for their numbing creams, Numbskin have branched out to stencil transfer paper too. The high-quality navy blue dye creates stencils with clear, dark outlines and the ink is specially designed to protect hands and clothes from staining. Each pack contains 50 sheets that can be drawn on directly using a ballpoint pen, or printed on using a thermal copier. Better yet, in case you’re not satisfied with your tattoo transfer paper, Numbskin even offers a lifetime money back guarantee!
3. Spirit Master Classic Thermal Transfer Paper
Spirit Master have been creating some of the best tattoo stencils on the market since 1948 and they are still extremely popular today. Made in the US and entirely vegan, these premium 4ply thermal transfer papers feature high visibility purple carbon and rip-stop stencil sheets for great durability. They can be used to transferring freehand designs or with most thermal stencil machines. However, for best results, we’d suggest a Pockjet, Copier or 3M thermal copier.
4. Y-NOT Tattoo Transfer Paper
One of the newer kids on the block, Y-NOT tattoo stencil papers offer great value for money. You can create stencils by drawing directly onto the master sheet, or by using a thermal copier to print out digital images. Either way, you’ll be able to create a clear stencil that adheres well to the skin and doesn’t rub off easily. The quality paper won’t tear easily either and the carbon pigment sheets can be reused several times without any fading.
5. Spirit Classic Thermal Roll
When it comes to transferring a large design such as a full back piece or sleeve tattoo onto someone’s skin, using stencil sheets can be tricky. Instead of trying to piece your design together using several sheets, why not try thermal roll by leading brand Spirit? This 3ply tattoo transfer paper is 100 feet long when fully unrolled and trimmable to any length you wish. This customisability makes it ideal for both big and small designs, and it’s long shelf life means it won’t degrade over time. It’s also certified vegan and suitable for use in any standard thermal copiers. Just remember to use an extra-long carrier in the machine.
6. S8 Red Tattoo Stencil Paper
The world’s first approved red stencil paper, S8 red transfer sheets offer an alternative to classic purple and blue carbon dyes. Perfect for light skin tones, the red ink offers a visible contrast against black tattoo ink to reduce the risk of errors and missed lines when outlining a design. A mix of vegetable waxes in the dye also prevent smudging, so you won’t have to worry about the colour wiping off as you tattoo. To make your design last even longer and create the best tattoo stencils possible, we’d suggest using it with S8 red stencil transfer gel.
7. Nykkola Stencil Transfer Paper
If you’re just starting out or have a tight budget, Nykkola tattoo transfer paper is a great choice. This inexpensive option can be used in both copiers and for freehand designs, and a 25 sheet pack costs less than $10! The purple carbon dye offers clear transfers that are easy to work from and the ink dries fast on the skin too. Although it arguably doesn’t last as long as some of the premium brands, you really can’t go wrong for the price – especially when you’re practicing. Plus, you can always go over the stencil with a marker pen to make sure it lasts during longer sessions.
8. New Star Tattoo Stencil Paper
Another affordable option is New Star’s tattoo carbon paper. A 20 sheet pack of 4ply sheets costs around $8 and the dark blue-purple colour is easy to see on light-medium skin tones. This type of stencil paper is compatible with traditional dot matrix machines, as well as more modern thermal copier machines. Alternatively, it can be used freehand, though you may have to press a little harder than with the more expensive sheets. Again, reviews for this product are mixed, but it’s a great choice for beginners. If you are a newbie, you may also want to take a look at the best tattoo starter kits for everything you need in one pack!
9. Spirit ReproFX Thermal Sheets
As well as red tattoo transfer sheets, did you know you can also get green thermal paper? Developed by long-standing tattooing suppliers Spirit, green coloured stencil papers are ideal for tattooing darker skin tones. The bright colour and glossy finish the ink leaves on the skin increases the visibility of linework, even in studios with poor lighting. Their trademark rip-stop transfer sheets are compatible with all thermal printers for ease of application. For the best tattoo stencils possible, apply the ink to the skin using Spirit green transfer cream.
And with that, we’ve reached the end of our list! We’ve covered everything from budget options to premium brands, and classic purple carbon paper to brand new red and green styles. From this, we hope you find the perfect transfer paper to help you create the best tattoo stencils for your future designs. Happy tattooing!