What Is The Best Material To Practice Tattooing On?

Written by: Pete

Practice makes perfect, and before you can put that tattoo gun to someone’s skin, you’ve got to test out your skills on the most life-like skin alternatives. Building your hand strength and becoming familiar with your equipment is essential, so we narrow down the best material to practice your tattooing on.

How to Practice Your Tattoo Skills

Whether you’ve just decided to start your career as a tattoo artist, or whether you’ve decided to start a new hobby, you need extensive time to practice and develop your skill away from human skill before you offer to make a permanent mark on someone else.

In fact, some states do not allow you to legally tattoo on anyone, not even while apprenticing until you’ve gained the proper licensure. In addition, tattooing others outside of a shop will certainly be a sanitary concern.

Before you start practicing with your tattoo gun, there are other ways you can practice your work. An aspiring tattoo artist should be drawing and redrawing all the time, helping to develop their artistry and copy skills. In addition, you can always practice your designs on friends using henna or permanent marker. Both these products add a level of pressure, similar to tattooing, as they can last a few days.

What is the Best Material to Practice Tattooing On?

best material to practice tattooing on

There are many materials available to an apprentice tattooist that will help prepare them when it comes to real human skin. We recommend trying out all the suggestions on this list that you are comfortable with, as it will give you a different feel and understanding of how to become adaptable to shapes, textures, and pressure needs for real skin.


One of the most popular methods of tattoo practice is to use fruit. Fruit is beneficial for practice for a variety of reasons.

  • The curves are more akin to real human skin, as very rarely will skin be completely flat. It also allows you to practice placing stencils correctly on curved surfaces.
  • Different fruits have different texture which will help develop your ability to tattoo different skin.
  • Fruits come in numerous sizes, allowing you to practice just how much your wrist can handle when it comes to small lemon-sized pieces, to melon-sized stencils.

One negative to tattooing on fruit is that the peel often cannot hold the stencil, which means each time you wipe your design as you would during a real session, some of the ink will be taken away.

Have a look at this video where a tattoo artist tattoos a large variety of fruit and lets you know which is the best and most life-like; banana and honey melon seem to take the cake.

Practice Skins

Practice skins are one of the best ways to practice tattooing. If you want to amplify the challenge, you can wrap it around curved items like the back of a bowl to ensure you are adjusting your tattooing to the curves of the human body. Or, you can also invest in synthetic skin that is shaped like body parts, though be aware that they are rather expensive.

faux skin for tattooing

Faux skin in the shape of a forearm and hand.

Faux skins are usually made up of one of three materials: silicone, synthetic leather, or latex. Be sure to check what your practice skin is made up of if you have a latex allergy. Silicone skin is generally the least expensive, latex has a realistic feel and appearance, and synthetic leather is thicker and harder which is great practice for dryer and rougher skin.

Faux skin comes in a variety of sizes and they hold stencils quite well. Although faux skin can be rotated as you tattoo it, remember that you cannot do that to a real human being!

If you don’t have the funds to invest in practice skin, you can make your own faux skin at home.

Pig Skin

Though truly a weird alternative that may gross you out a little more than the other options on this list, a lot of people use pig skin to practice tattooing on. It can be obtained from your local butcher shop who may give it to you free or at a low cost, as they sometimes resell it to animal food companies to create dog treats.

Pig skin has the closest texture to human skin, but it will definitely be a bit disgusting to work with, and will likely smell terrible.

Tattooing Yourself

When you’ve gotten enough practice on your skin alternatives and developed your artistry skill, you can begin to tattoo on real skin, starting with your own. Most people choose to tattoo their upper thighs when doing self-practice because it’s an easy location to work with and will stay hidden in most cases.

Once your apprenticeship has developed and you’ve gotten the go-ahead to tattoo others from your mentor, you will be able to tattoo at a low cost; likely just the cost of materials. This will open up many doors for people eager for a bargain, as tattoos are normally not so inexpensive.

Our Final Thoughts

Practicing on skin alternatives will help you better understand how to handle your equipment, how much ink is necessary for different circumstances, working with pressure for different textures, and how to work around curves and contours. It’s important that you gain extensive experience on other materials prior to moving onto real skin, because practice truly does make perfect - especially for something as permanent as a tattoo.

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