How to use a Transfer Stencil

If you find free poking quite difficult and don’t like the pressure of it, using a transfer stencil could be a great option for you. This means you can draw your tattoo design beforehand, transfer it onto your skin via a stencil, and begin poking. It’s also a good option for if you regularly draw tattoo designs, as you can simply trace the design as and when you want to use it. If you’re wondering how to use a transfer stencil, look no further. We’ve put together a step by step guide, so keep reading if you want to learn more.

What you’ll need

To complete this process, you’ll need: 

  • Your tattoo design
  • Scissors
  • Stencil transfer paper
  • Tracing paper
  • Sterile marker pen
  • Stencil transfer gel
  • Antibacterial soap
  • Alcohol wipe

Our friends at Stick and Poke Tattoo Kit have Practice kits available, including everything you need to successfully transfer your design ready for poking. They also have individual products if you only need a couple of items too.

Preparing your stencil

Firstly, peel away and remove the brown paper – the one that’s between the waxy paper and the top white paper. If you’ve got a tattoo design drawn out already, you’ll want to place it under your tracing paper and use your sterile marker to trace it. Then you’ll place the tracing paper with your design on, on the top white sheet of paper, and draw over it so it transfers through to the white paper. If you’re freshly drawing your design, you can use your sterile marker to draw it directly onto the top white sheet of paper, so the ink paper transfers your design. Take your time with your drawing, as you want to be as accurate as possible. When you’re finished, detach the piece of paper with the design on it and cut it out with scissors.


Before applying your stencil, it’s important to wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap and put on a fresh set of disposable gloves. You’ll also want to prepare the area of skin you’re wanting to tattoo, by cleaning it with soap and warm water, followed by an alcohol pad. Next, apply a small amount of the stencil transfer gel to the area. Make sure you cover the whole area, plus a few inches beyond this. Your skin shouldn’t be damp, just slightly moist. Then, carefully place the piece of paper on your skin, with the ink side facing down. Hold the piece of paper in place for one minute. Before carefully peeling the paper off and allowing the area to dry for eight minutes. This should make your stencil last several wipes. You’re now ready to start poking!

Transferred to the wrong area?

If you’ve applied your stencil to the wrong area of your skin, don’t panic. It will come off with warm water and soap, or alcohol pads. Don’t worry about your stencil either, as this will last several times.

Using coloured ink for your stick and poke

If you’re using coloured ink for your tattoo – whether that’s red, white or anything other than black –  you’ll want to make sure your stencil is wiped off until it’s almost gone. This is because once you start poking, the stencil ink will be transferred into the skin, which creates unwanted colouration.

If you need any stick and poke supplies, whether that’s stencil kits, hand poke kits or supplies, our friends at S&PTK have got a wide range available. Click here to visit their website.

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