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How to Make Fake Skin for Tattooing Practice

Jennifer Betts
closeup of tattoo artist at work

It is said that practice makes perfect. Therefore, using practice skins for tattooing can be helpful. However, if you are just learning, buying practice skins can get expensive. Fortunately, there is a way to make them at home. While homemade skins might not be as durable as those bought at the store, they provide is a great way to practice your craft without spending a fortune.

Ingredients

Making fake skin doesn't take much, and most of the ingredients can be found at home.

  • Elmer's glue
  • Plastic bag (optional)
  • Cornstarch or flour
  • Warm water
  • Flesh-colored paint
  • Bowl
  • Rolling Pin
  • Fork or whisk

Step 1

Mixing cornstarch and water in bowl

Combine 1/3 cup of warm water and 1/4 cup of cornstarch or flour into a clean bowl. Whisk or mix the ingredients together until the mixture is hard to stir and thick. If needed, you can add more cornstarch or flour to get the right consistency. The flesh should be consistent in texture and easy to mold with your fingers.

Step 2

Using the rolling pin, you'll want to roll out your dough mixture until you have a nice flat sheet.

Step 3

If you want flesh colored practice skin, you need to mix a few drops of flesh-colored makeup or paint in a plastic bag with the Elmer's glue, creating a nice flesh color. Once the mix is the desired color, you can snip one of the corners off the bag to pour it on to the sheet easily. If you are not concerned with color, skip to step 4.

Step 4

Cover the sheet in a nice layer of glue then roll and knead the mixture to combine the dough-like substance and glue. You want to do this several times making sure the two are mixed well. Add more glue as needed, making sure to mix well each time glue is added.

Step 5

Roll out skin dough

Using the rolling pin or your hands, flatten the skin into a sheet again. (The thickness of the sheet is up to you, though keep in mind that thinner sheets are easier to manipulate). Now, let it dry completely. As the mixture dries, it should have a thick elastic feel much like skin.

Using Your Fake Skin

You've done it! You mastered creating fake tattoo skin. It's the perfect color, the texture is nice and now you're ready to use it. There are a few things you need to remember before diving right in.

  • Creating your own fake tattoo skin is an art form and it might take a few times to get it right. Therefore, don't get discouraged.
  • If created correctly, your tattoo skin should react to your inks pretty well. However, it is crucial to ensure that the entire creation is completely dry. Otherwise, half way through you might have a bit of a mushy mess on your hands.
  • Depending on whether you are using a gun to tattoo or the stick and poke method, you might notice that the fake skin will react slightly different. Therefore, give both a try.
  • Depending on the consistency of your homemade skin, it might take the inks a bit too well and you'll notice a bit of bleeding from the tattooed line. If you are just starting out, this isn't something to worry about. You are simply working on your technique of creating lines and shading. However, if you are practicing find line work, the homemade skin might not give you the results you were hoping for. In this instance, you might need to purchase a few skins for this type of practice.
  • Real skin stretches a lot. You have to consider this when you are creating your work on your fake skin. While it will have some elasticity, it does not stretch the same way that real skin does.
  • Bodies are not flat. When creating a piece on your fake skin, wrap it on a water bottle or other curved service so you get the feel of tattooing on real flesh.

Fake It Until You Make It

Practice is pivotal to learning the art of tattooing. Most people aren't going to be open to being your first client; therefore, fake skin can come in handy to learn the trade. However, purchasing practice skins can get pricy if you are going through dozens a week. Therefore, making your own fake skin with some glue and cornstarch or flour can come in really handy.

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How to Make Fake Skin for Tattooing Practice