Introduction: Make a Temporary Tattoo Using Tape and Printer

This project has three main purposes:

1) Freaking out your mother
2) Costume party/ Cosplay etc
3) Figuring out if you REALLY, REALLY want to get that tattoo you've been thinking about for weeks

I was a smart-ass teen and whenever my mother was angry and/or disappointed with me, I'd cover myself with those temporary tattoos and tell her "it could have been worse". I don't recommend freaking out your mother, but you can try with your partner/ was rather fun to see my boyfriend hyperventilate once he saw skull "tattoos" on my hands. I'm evil, I know.

Honestly though, those temporary tattoos are great if you are thinking about a real one but can't decide if it will look alright/ can't visualise what it will look like/ can't decide on a placement. I used that method every time I was about to get a tattoo and it helped me a lot.


Packaging tape
Inkjet printer
Gloves (optional)
Baby powder/corn starch/setting powder (optional)
Hair spray (optional)

Step 1: Choosing Your Design

Sketches, clean lines, black and white designs worked best for me. If you want something more elaborate you will have to experiment. Some sketches had to be adjusted, background made more white, gray lines made more black etc. Don't forget to mirror-flip the images as well.

I can tell you from experience that the quality of this project depends mainly on your printer and the type of ink said printer uses. I used several different INKJET printers and in one case ink was too runny, in other one black ink wasn’t black enough… different printers will produce different results.

You will also have to experiment with printer settings. I printed mine the same way I would a regular document, except I went for a higher resolution. Again, you will have to experiment to see what suits you.

Step 2: Applying Tape and Printing

Once your design is ready to print, apply tape to either the whole page or just parts of it and print. Be careful not to touch the ink when you remove the page from the printer. Cut the image out, make sure to leave a little on one side so it's easy to handle.

Step 3: Transferring the Image

I didn't do anything special to prepare the area, except I washed it with regular soap and dried it. If you plan on doing it on a hairy skin, your results might be a little off, but it will still work. You will only get one shot to transfer the image, so do it slowly. If possible, ask for help. Once the design is on your skin, run your palm over it to make sure the whole design transferred and peel the paper off.

Don't touch it until it's dry.

Step 4: Different Results

Step 5: Filling With Colour and Sealing the 'tattoo'

You can use colourful markers to add some colour (don't judge me for my awful colouring skills, I didn't have any other markers). Once it's done you can seal it. First step is to apply setting powder, I used whatever I had in my make-up bag, but baby powder or cornstarch would work too. Use a soft brush to remove excess powder. Last step is hair spray. It will make the colours pop and seal the whole thing for up to 36 hours (or your next shower).

Removal is pretty simple, but again it depends on your ink. Soap and water and a little rubbing will work in most cases, use a nail brush or an exfoliating sponge. If that doesn't work use acetone (some inks are a bit stubborn).

Please, make sure you don't do something stupid like get a massive spider 'tattoo' on your neck, then run out of acetone and end up going to work wearing a turtle-neck in the biggest summer heat-wave (happened to a friend).

Glue & Tape Speed Challenge

Second Prize in the
Glue & Tape Speed Challenge