Can You Use a Regular Printer for Tattoo Transfer Paper?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on January 17, 2022
    Last Updated: January 17, 2022

When you’re first learning to tattoo, you may use a stencil to transfer the tattoo design from a drawing to the skin. The stencil will help you get a perfect representation of the design without any mistakes that you could make when drawing freehand.

A stencil is printed onto a specifically created paper. This then gives you a template of the tattoo design that you can transfer to the person’s skin to create the outline of the tattoo. There are stencil printers that have been made for this exact reason that are compact and portable. However, they can be a little pricey compared to a regular printer. 

Many people ask if you can use a regular printer to print out your tattoo stencil on transfer paper. We’ll let you know the answer as well as the details behind stenciling and the best way to do this.

Why Do You Need a Tattoo Stencil?

A tattoo stencil is a perfect way of transferring your artwork from a piece of paper to a person’s body. 

If you’re just starting out as a tattoo artist, you may find it difficult to draw freehand onto the skin. It’s also an added pressure for a beginner that you don’t need when you’re looking to complete the perfect piece of body art.

Can You Use a Regular Printer for Tattoo Transfer Paper?

A tattoo stencil can be made by tracing your design onto tracing paper and then transferring it onto the body. Alternatively, you can print a stencil onto tattoo transfer paper from your computer if you have a design already uploaded.

The paper generally used for tattoo stencils is tattoo transfer paper, which is sometimes called thermal paper or hectograph carbon paper. This paper allows an accurate representation of the tattoo design to be transferred to the skin. 

You must make sure that you’re using the right type of paper to be able to transfer the design to your customer’s skin properly. However, you can use a regular printer to print this out onto the tattoo transfer paper. 

What Is a Tattoo Stencil Printer?

The only way to create a tattoo stencil previously was to draw it freehand onto paper and then transfer it onto the skin using a transfer paper. This was a process that took a lot of time and made stencils complicated.

However, since the introduction of tattoo stencil printers, this process has become so much easier. Tattoo artists can create designs and edit them using different programs on their computers. The computer can then be connected to the tattoo stencil printer to print your designs onto tattoo transfer paper.

You can use a regular printer to do this; it’s getting the correct paper that’s the vital element to printing a suitable stencil. The advantages of a tattoo stencil printer to a regular printer are the size and the ink used. 

A tattoo stencil printer uses carbon printer ink that transfers easily onto the skin. It’s also smaller in size than a regular printer and can even be portable.

How To Use a Regular Printer for Tattoo Transfer Paper

You can use a regular printer to create a tattoo; you just need to make sure that you are using the correct paper type for tattoo stencils. This paper would be thermal paper or hectograph carbon paper. The tattoo transfer paper can be used with an inkjet or laser printer without any issues. 

The first thing you need to do is make sure that the computer is connected to your printer before printing your tattoo design. You must then add your tattoo transfer paper to the printer, the same way you would with regular paper, making sure that it’s the right way up if using carbon paper.

Print your design and allow it to dry completely before touching it so that it doesn’t smudge. You can then cut out the tattoo design, making sure not to cut too close to the edges. 

You’re then ready to transfer your design to the skin. Prepare the skin properly and apply stick deodorant or stencil lotion to the skin, as this will allow the tattoo design to transfer properly. 


As you can see, it is possible to use a regular printer for tattoo transfer paper to create your tattoo stencil. You don’t have to splash the cash to create the perfect tattoo. However, you need to make sure that you have the right paper, as regular paper won’t work.

If you are looking to invest in a tattoo stencil printer, speak to a reputable tattoo artist to get their advice on which to choose. It’s a lot of money to spend so you need to make sure that you buy one that will last and give you great results.

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