Introduction: Design and Print Your Own Temporary Tattoos

Designing and printing your own temporary tattoos at home is super easy!! You don't need a special printer to make them either. All you need is a regular inkjet printer and a pack of temporary tattoo paper that is easily found at most craft stores as well as Wal-Mart.

Items required:
  • 1 pack of Silhouette printable tattoo paper(Comes in a pack of two sheets for around $10. I buy it from Jo-Ann's but I've seen it at multiple other craft stores as well as Wal-Mart. Amazon sells it too.)
  • Computer
  • Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop (You can use Paint to draw your tattoos but I think Illustrator is the easiest and makes the cleanest tattoos)
  • Bone folder or a Popsicle stick
  • Inkjet printer
  • Scissors

Step 1: Designing in Paint

If you are using Paint to make your tattoos then the steps for designing your tattoos are very simple.

  • Open paint

Before you start drawing your tattoos, we need to resize the paper so that it prints on the tattoo paper that is 8.5 x 11 inches.

  • In the image section, click on resize.
  • A window will pop up, click the box so the numbers are in pixels and the check box that says maintain aspect ratio should be unchecked.
  • Then change the horizontal number to 2550 and the vertical to 3000

After completing those steps, you are all ready to start drawing. You can draw one giant tattoo or you can fit as many as you can onto the paper. The only step you need to do before you print is to make sure you horizontally flip all your tattoos so they don't come out backwards. To do this:

  • Click on the drop down arrow on the selection tab
  • Then click on select all (this will select everything you have drawn)
  • Go to the images section again and click on rotate, this will give you a menu of options
  • Select the option flip horizontal

Once you flip everything, the images and text will be backwards. Don't panic! This is what we want so when its printed it comes out the right way.

Step 2: Designing in Illustrator

I prefer to use Illustrator to make tattoos because they print really nice and just look better in general. For this project I downloaded a Tribal Icon Set and a few fonts from the Free Goods section of Creative Market. (Check this every week!! Awesome and Free!) I then used bits and pieces of them to make three different sheets of tattoos to print.

Here is how I did this:

  • Open Illustrator and create a new document
  • Name your document and make sure the size is set to 8.5 x 11 inches and the ppi is set at 300.
  • Once you have one artboard created, add one more for each sheet of tattoo paper you have. (I had three sheets left so in the pictures I created three boards)

Now that I have three pages for my tattoos, I can start adding content to them. If you want to make your own icons or draw your tattoos by hand then go for it! If you don't know how to do that in illustrator, don't worry, check out this video and learn something new!

If you aren't going to make your own icons or draw them like I did, follow these steps:

  • Open any icon sets you downloaded or found online in a new tab in Illustrator
  • Copy and paste the icons you want to use onto the tattoos pages.
  • Resize them, combine them to make bigger tattoos or re-color them to make them your own.
  • Fill the whole page so you don't waste a lot of the tattoo paper. I can usually fit a good number of them on the page.

Final and most important step!!!

Before you print you need to click on each design and flip it so it mirrors the original design. To do this all you have to do is select the design and then right click. Scroll down to where it says Transform and then select reflect. This will allow you to flip your design so it mirrors the original. If you don't do this step, when you print, all of your designs will be backwards and your text will be too!!

Step 3: Printing Your Tattoos

Now that the designs for the tattoos are done, it's time to get the paper and the printer set up.

First you need to figure out which way the paper in your printer prints. Does the top of the paper in the tray stay the top once its printed or does it switch. To do this all you need to do is write on sheet of paper and then print something so you know how the paper goes through the printer.

Once you know which way the printer prints, you need to open your package of tattoo paper. You'll need to separate the green adhesive pages from the glossy paper. Next, put the glossy paper in the printer so that it prints on the glossy side. Once you've done this you are all set to go ahead and print your tattoos.

Step 4: Applying Adhesive

Once the glossy tattoo paper has been printed, it's time to apply the adhesive. To do this you will want to lay the printed sheets on a flat table and get your bone folder or Popsicle stick ready.

  • Peel the top off the back of the green sheet along the perforated edge.
  • Line the sticky side up with glossy side of your paper and smooth it out.
  • Place your bone folder or Popsicle stick against the adhesive in the middle and apply even pressure while pulling the bone folder down towards you.
  • Once all the adhesive is on the paper, use your bone folder to smooth out the adhesive and push any air bubbles out.
  • Repeat for each tattoo sheet

Congratulations!!! You've finished printing and applying the adhesive to your own temporary tattoos!! Now go find some willing bodies to apply them to!

Step 5: Applying Tattoos

Applying the tattoos is super easy and exactly like a normal temporary tattoo. Simply cut around the design you want to apply and then peel the adhesive off. Press the sticky side down onto the skin. Then use a wet wash cloth to apply the water and pressure to the back of the tattoo. Apply pressure for thirty seconds and slowly lift a corner to see if the tattoo has transferred to the skin. If it hasn't, keep applying water and pressure until it has. Once the tattoo has transferred pull the paper off and enjoy!!

Thanks for reading!

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