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How to Mix a Grey Wash for Shading

Learn how to mix a grey wash for shading from acclaimed tattoo artist James Vaughn in this Howcast video.


To mix grey wash, we call it grey wash, it's pretty simple with me. A lot people have all kinds of little tips and techniques. It's pretty straightforward. I always, pretty much, start with solid black, which I dip into the solid black, let it get up into the tube. And always remember, when you're tuning your machine, also make sure that you have a tube, and a needle, in the machine correctly and you've actually added some ink to it because it actually lubes up the needle in the tube so it actually is running correctly and more efficiently.

Alright, I'm going to let the black come up in the tube, there's black on the tube. And I actually dip it straight into the water. You see how it goes down in and starts basically mixing the solid black with the water itself. Some prefer distilled water. Some prefer regular tap water. I like distilled water. It seems to not have as many particles in them. So the ink seems to disperse a little better.
When you're tattooing you actually go from one to the other. I usually dip once and mix with the water and then I'll work in the skin and see how light it is and then actually if it's too light I'll go back in, dip one more time into the black and then dip again into the water, until you get the right tone that you're looking for. A lot of people like to make several different caps of black and water that way they'll do one drip here, two drips, that way you'll have different consistencies of black. I like to get a medium tone with my one cap of water and then I just dip accordingly. If I could have that one tone, I'll dip and then go back into the dark and then darken it up in the areas that need to be darkened.
I've done it this way since I've started tattooing. A lot of people try to say do it this way or that way. Everybody has their own thing. You kind of learn little quirks that makes you do things more efficiently. This is how I do it and it's how I learned how to do it and it works for me.

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