What is the Best Material to Practice Tattooing On?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on October 1, 2021
    Last Updated: February 18, 2022

You’ve chosen to become a tattoo artist and you have been practicing your drawing skills, what’s the next step?

You will need to learn the art of tattooing on skin to be able to improve your skills. Drawing on paper is all good but will not give you the contours or the feel of tattooing for real. The human body has lots of curves so it’s completely different from drawing on flat paper.

The question is, how do you practice your tattooing skills? What materials can you use for the best results and that simulate the human body and skin? Tattoos are permanent so there won’t be many people lining up for you to practice on when you first start out. You need to find a way of practicing without creating a permanent mess on a friend’s body.

We’ll let you know what the best material is to practice tattooing on and just how you can improve your skills.

How to Practice Your Tattoo Skills?

To become a professional tattoo artist you need to practice, practice, and practice some more. This will improve your drawing skills and will also allow your own creativity to show through. This is fine on paper but how do you get the true experience of drawing on someone’s skin? 

You can start off by using henna or a non-permanent marker to create designs on friends and family. This will allow you to practice lots of designs without giving them a permanent tattoo. 

You can also use many types of fruit to practice your tattooing skills as these are all different shapes and sizes with lots of varied flesh types. Many tattoo artists also use synthetic skins for practicing.

What is the Best Material to Practice Tattooing On?

There are lots of different materials that can be used to practice your tattooing skills. These range from varieties of fruits, synthetic skins, to actual pig skin

The key to being a successful tattoo artist is practice, and this will continue even when you’re doing the job every day. You can always learn new styles and come up with different ideas that you can’t add straight to a client’s body. You need to find the best material to practice on that suits you.

The materials used should be different shapes with curves to imitate the body as no body part that you will tattoo will be completely flat. You also need to consider the texture of the material that you use. Synthetic skin or pig skin is good to use for the texture as these are very similar to the human skin that you’ll be tattooing.

Fruity Style

Fruits are a great place to start when practicing your tattoo skills and these are the first things that your mentor will suggest. There are different kinds of fruits that can be used and these all have different shapes, sizes and flesh to give a different perspective and result.

The best fruits to use would be oranges, grapefruits, lemons, or honeydew melons. These have a great texture and honeydew melons are the closest you’ll find to the texture of real skin. 

You’ll need to learn how to keep the fruit still when tattooing but this will give you great practice for wriggling bodies when you start tattooing clients for real.

Skins for Practice

Skins are another great way of practicing your tattooing and you can now purchase synthetic skins to do this job. These come in different size sheets and can even be bought in the shape of body parts, such as hands and feet, giving you a much more realistic way of practicing.

Some people use pig skin to practice on as it has the closest texture to human skin. This is a relatively inexpensive way of practicing your skills, and some butchers will give it to you for free, which is a great result. However, pig skin is not to everyone’s taste and it can be smelly and difficult to work with.

Tattooing Yourself

Once you have improved your drawing skills and have become more confident with a tattoo needle you can start to practice on real people. Start by tattooing yourself in locations that won’t be on show, you don’t want customers to see your first attempts as being an example of your great tattoo skills.

As you grow in confidence you can tattoo close friends and family for a low price. Everyone loves a bargain, even better if it’s for free. 


The ideal way to improve your drawing and tattooing skills is to practice and the more varied materials you can find, the better you will become.

We hope that we answered your question and wish you good luck with your tattooing career. Keep practicing!