Make a Temporary Tattoo Using Tape and Printer

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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/spouse..it 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.

Supplies

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).

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    35 Comments

    0
    parallyze
    parallyze

    1 year ago

    Printing on the wrong (non-coated) side of inkjet transparency film will give you a similar result. You can also vary the degree of "too much ink" by using wrong settings... depending on the selected paper/media type a inkjet printer will add different amounts of ink. (or options like grayscale/color for getting black from K or by mixing CMY).

    I just wouldn't recommend any of this. Because depending on the printer the wet ink will leave traces on the transport rollers inside and might mess up your following real prints. Also this might leave ink on sensors inside (for cd printing and other features the printer might have... feed scanner AIOs come to mind...).

    This can work reasonably well... but it can have really bad side effects.

    0
    shalnachywyt
    shalnachywyt

    Reply 1 year ago

    Seems to me, based on all the responses, and not just yours, that this is A BAD IDEA, but then again, it's a teenager coming up with this. ::shrugs::

    0
    AndersJ3
    AndersJ3

    Reply 1 year ago

    i don't believe that this is such a bad idea. But if you want to play safe, then don't use it. Don't use knifes or sissors either. And don't build anything yourself. Because it could be a bad idea and you can cut yourself.

    0
    shalnachywyt
    shalnachywyt

    Reply 1 year ago

    How in the world did you jump from the idea of "poisoning yourself through your skin" to "don't use knives or scissors"? Based upon your comment, you shouldn't cross the street, drive a car, or for that matter, get up out of bed in the morning because something bad might happen. Really, did common sense suddenly leave the human race when the millennium turned?

    0
    tommaso moro
    tommaso moro

    1 year ago on Step 5

    simply ask to myself: isn't inkjet ink toxic ?

    0
    AndersJ3
    AndersJ3

    Reply 1 year ago

    Yes, water is also toxic.
    There have been several cases where people have drunk so much water so they have died. No, not drown, they have drunk to much water.
    Yes, Chocolate is also toxic, most animals can't handle the amount humans can handle. Humans and rats can handle rather much of it though.

    As with most things, it all up to the dosage. Your mileage may vary.
    So check the contents of the ink you use.

    0
    robertallenpayne
    robertallenpayne

    Reply 1 year ago

    Depends on your definition of toxic and how you are being exposed to it. Printer on a sheet of paper. No. Not really. Cracking open the cartridge and drinking it down? Well, make sure your insurance is paid up. Drink enough and it will kill you.

    0
    Andy_K84
    Andy_K84

    Reply 1 year ago

    The primary ingredients in most printer inks are water, ethylene glycol and alcohol. Printer ink is about as safe as dish washing soap. Drinking it can make you sick, but it is not life threatening. But of course, different companies could add different stuff to their ink.

    0
    Crayz4life
    Crayz4life

    Reply 1 year ago

    Most are made with soybeans these days versus petroleum so should be safe.

    0
    retiredphnman
    retiredphnman

    1 year ago

    Also wondered what side of tape. When and where was powder used? What type of tape? I assume the application must take place quickly after the print, before ink dries? Not a lot of steps divulged. The images are rather cool though. It does make me want todo some more searching to actually LEARN how to do this.

    0
    AndersJ3
    AndersJ3

    Reply 1 year ago

    It is the shiny, side of the tape that make the inc not to stick and dry into the surface printed at.
    It should also be good if the paper is pushed straight through the printer without doing any sharp turns, like in most laser printers. Laser printers also have a dryer, that heat up the paper. That could potentially ruin your Laser printer. And the powder are even potentially more of a risk then the ink to the skin.

    So only try it on ink printer.

    0
    FrauMartina
    FrauMartina

    Reply 1 year ago

    You use the sticky part of the tape to adhere it to the paper. Once the image is printed it can take anywhere between 3 and 15 minutes for the ink to dry out. Depends on the ink really. I suggest applying it to the skin immediately after printing.
    Once the image is applied to the skin you have to wait a few minutes for the ink to dry, then sprinkle the powder to set the 'tattoo'.

    0
    robertallenpayne
    robertallenpayne

    1 year ago

    This is not something you should do without first looking up the Safety Data Sheet for your specific printer’s ink. For example, the SDS for my Canon inkjet states: “Skin Contact: flush contaminated skin with plenty of water. Seek medical attention if irritation develops.” Note that it uses the word “contaminated!” That is a negative word. The SDS further states: “Skin Contact: May cause allergic reaction in certain individuals.” Other inks will be similar. Some inks contain solvents which can be absorbed through the skin. Some include ammonia compounds which can blister your skin. You are risking skin irritation or even skin damage if you go this route. Most people probably will be fine. But that won’t be any comfort to you if you are the one who blisters up or goes into allergic shock. “Making” is fun. Let’s keep it fun and not take health risks (however small) for transitory moments of glee. Stay informed. Stay safe. Just because you use something every day in a safe manner doesn’t mean that the something in question is safe if used in a manner in which it was not intended. There are safer ways to get temporary tattoos.

    0
    FrauMartina
    FrauMartina

    Reply 1 year ago

    I checked my printer’s safety data sheet and the type of ink
    it uses is considered non-toxic. The ingredients are as follows: water, carbon
    black, glycerol, triethylene glycol and triethanol amine. None of which is
    harmful to the skin. Prolonged exposure to some of those chemicals can (in some
    cases) cause a mild skin irritation, but I don’t recommend you bathe in the ink,
    you are using a very small amount of ink for this project.



    0
    robertallenpayne
    robertallenpayne

    Reply 1 year ago

    And this is all fine unless you are the one person 100,000 who does react to the triethanol amine and develops chemical burns. I’ve been a chemical engineer for 30 years. I’ve seen lots of “non toxic” chemicals put people who were negligent into the hospital. All I’m saying is that just because something is common and normally considered safe doesn’t mean that, if you use it in a way in which it was not intended, you can’t get hurt. A 2001 study found TEA in a sunscreen caused an allergic contact dermatitis. That’s not a fun time. And that’s with a product that was DESIGNED for skin contact. If you call the manufacturer of your ink and ask them, they will tell you in no uncertain terms to NOT use their ink in this manner. Is it safe? Yeah probably. Can it hurt somebody? Yep. It could. Is it worth it? Nope. Not at all.

    0
    AndersJ3
    AndersJ3

    Reply 1 year ago

    It can be fun, for some very few it can be a problem.. You should probably make a small fake tattoo before you try bigger ones.

    And yes, EVERYTHING can make people get some problems, as you said. Even sunscreen can generate allergic contact dermantitis. And so do some medicine, have other non wanted effect among the one we do want.

    So yes, your warning are good. But as said, we also know we will die some day, that is the only thing we know of. So why not try to have some fun before. And be careful when testing new things.

    0
    cougar63701
    cougar63701

    1 year ago

    What kind of tape did you use? I've got packing tape (most is clear) is that what you use? Thanks!

    0
    FrauMartina
    FrauMartina

    Reply 1 year ago

    It's just a regular packaging tape, otherwise known as box-sealing tape or parcel tape. Comes in a variety of colours, mainly clear and brown.