There are three types of tattoo guns: one that lines and shades, and two that perform those actions separately. It may seem like a tattoo gun that completes both would be easier to use, but it’s actually more difficult—especially for beginners. These guns tend to be heavy, making it difficult to hold for long periods of time. Additionally, many new tattoo artists find it hard to tell the difference between the needles.
The first tattoo guns were developed in 1876 and were intended to act as an electric pen for duplicating documents. In 1891, a man named Samuel O’Reilly discovered that this pen could be used to transfer ink into the skin. He patented a system for doing so. The first single coil machine was simply a modified doorbell in a brass box.
Today, tattoo guns can control the needle’s depth, speed, and force of application. This has allowed tattooing to become a precise form of art and enabled the technology to be introduced into the cosmetic and beauty fields. Now, tattooing is used to apply permanent makeup, to disguise beauty marks and freckles, and to hide scars.
Two tattoo guns are necessary for all tattoo artists: a shader and a liner. The liner holds one to seven needles, offering artists the precision necessary to draw an outline for their work. A shader holds many needles and is used to add color, depth, and shade to the design.