Tattoo Needle Sizes and Uses Chart

Shmulik Dorinbaum
Tattoo machine and needles, tattoo accessory

Table of Contents

When looking at the tattoo needle sizes and uses chart, you may be baffled by the variety of tattoo needles available if you are new to tattooing. What distinguishes a magnum or bug pin tattoo needle from a round liner tattoo? How do you choose which one to use for various types of tattoos? 

Understanding tattoo needles may not be as difficult as you believe. Local tattoo shops will assist you in gaining a comprehensive grasp of the various styles and needles. This article will discuss the sizes and applications of various tattoo needles.

Types of Tattoo Needles

Crop master making tattoo on leg

Tattoo needles are available in various options, which may make perusing a catalog seem a little daunting. However, do not be worried! After overcoming the learning curve, it will all make sense.

You will find out that tattoo needles are divided into six categories: Round Liners, Round Shaders, Magnum Shaders, Curved Magnum Shaders, Double Stack Magnum Shaders, and Flat Shaders. Each category is covered in further detail below.

1. Round Liners

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As their name implies, round liners feature round pins and are ideal for drawing neat lines. Consequently, they are great for outlining. The pins of round liner needles are fused in a round pattern to produce faultless, delicate lines. The line thickness will depend on the round liner rating chosen.

A 01 round liner, for instance, will generate thin lines, but a 14 round liner would produce significantly thicker lines.

These liners are unique because they emit a small quantity of ink at once. As a result, they are ideal for enhancing the intricacies of a tattoo. It would have made drawing lines a nightmare if it released too much ink at one draw.

2. Round Shaders

Since both feature round pin orientation, there are several parallels between round shaders and round liners. The closeness between the pins is the essential distinction. The greater density of round liner pins makes them ideal for fine finishing. 

Since the pins on round shaders are more distributed, they are more suitable for shading thicker lines and outlining.

3. Magnum Shaders

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They are preferred as shading needles. In contrast to round liners, they enable a large amount of ink to be released simultaneously. Fewer passes are necessary to push the ink into the skin, resulting in less skin impact. Therefore, they are ideal for covering more flesh in less time.

4. Curved Magnum Shaders

These needles are also known as tattoo artists’ round magnums, soft magnums, and soft edge magnums. It functions identically to standard magnum shaders, except that the needles in curved magnum shaders are bent towards the center instead of being aligned linearly.

There are no alternatives to curved magnum shaders for precise shading. Additionally, curved magnum shaders produce a significant amount of ink in a more controlled manner. Therefore, while working around the edges, you should utilize this tool for more precision and more ink at the same time.

5. Double Stack Magnum Shaders

These days, double-stack magnum shaders are a relic, although they may still be useful in certain circumstances. There is limited space between the pins, allowing for delicate coloring and shading.

You may use it if you want the benefits of a magnum shader but want a more controlled ink spread.

6. Flat Shaders

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On the needlestick of flat shaders, the pins are organized linearly. They are excellent for lining and can rapidly transfer considerable ink to the skin, enabling shading. Due to the design and configuration of the pins, these needles can disseminate more ink throughout the skin. 

With a single stroke, you may create darker, more distinct lines. Flat shaders should be used when a dark, black outline or intricate shading is required, such as geometric patterns or mandala-style tattoos. Large flat shaders are used for color fills and shading since they discharge a substantial ink volume with each stroke.

Tattoo Needle Codes

Several codes denote distinct characteristics when it comes to tattoo needles. RL refers to the round liner, which produces a tiny round shape often used as lining needles. The remaining variants are F for flats, RS for the round shader,  M1 for weaving magnum, M2 for stacked magnum, and RM for round magnum.

Tattoo Needle Sizes and Uses Chart

The table below is a chart of tattoo needle sizes and uses, which will display both tattoo needles and their intended use. There are several classifications, and they have various common applications depending on what they are most suited for.

Needle CategoryTube SizeUses
4F, 5F4 – 5 flatDetail work and line
6F, 7F6 – 7 flatThick lines, shading, and color fill
9F8 – 9 flatColor fill and shading
5M14 – 5 flatColor fill, thick lines, and shading
7M16 – 7 flatShading, lines, and color fill
9M18 – 9 flatShading, thick outlines and color fill
11M111 flatShading and color fill
13M113 flatColor fill and shading
15M115 flatShading and color fill
5M2, 7M2, 9M24 – 5 flatLines, detail, outlines, and shading
11M2, 13M26 -7 flatShading, thick outlines, color fill and thick lines
15M28 – 9 flatShading and color fill
5MR4 – 5 flatDetail work, small lines, and intricate shading
7MR6 – 7 flatDetail work, lines, shading, color fill
9MR8 – 9 flatShading, outlines, and color fill
11MR11 flatShading and color fill 
13MR13 flatColor fill and shading
15MR15 flatShading and color fill
1RL, 3RL1 – 3 roundIntricate shading, lines, and fill-in
4RL, 5RL4 – 5 roundShading, fill-in and outlines,
7RL7 roundShading and color fill
8RL, 9RL8 – 9 roundThick outlines, color fill and Shading, 
11RL, 14 RL11 – 14 roundShading and colors
3RS1 – 3 roundDetail work and Lines
5RS4 – 5 roundSmall shading areas, lines, and small detail
7RS7 roundLines, small area fill in and shading, 
8RS, 9RS8 – 9 roundThick outlines, shading, and color fill in
14RS11 – 14 roundColor and shading 

How To Select the Right Needles

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As you can see in the table above when it comes to tattoo needles there are plenty of size variations. This tattoo needle chart is intended to assist you in comprehending the many kinds of tattoo needles. As a tattoo artist, selecting the appropriate needles is about aligning your goals with the appropriate needle type for shading or outlining. 

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Tattoo Needle Purchasing Manual

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1. Check Construction Quality

Verify that the pins are aligned and soldered correctly to the needle bar. Utilizing malformed needles increases the likelihood of inflicting serious damage. In addition to the potential for skin harm, it will harm performance since curved needles will be less precise and effective than straight ones.

2. Check If  Needles Are Compatible With Your Equipment

Before purchasing, see the tattoo needle size chart to check that the needles you’re purchasing are compatible with the tubes/tips you currently possess. If your needles do not match your tattoo equipment, you will be wasting your money.

3. Purchase Pre Sterilized Needles

The majority of tattoo needles are now pre-sterilized. Unsterilized tattoo needles can induce skin infections and other health risks. Therefore, always check the package to see if the needles have been disinfected. 

You can sterilize them on your own. However, we often forget to do so when in a rush. So it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Final Words

Even though the title of this article is Tattoo Needle Sizes and Uses Chart, we have included as much information as possible regarding tattoo needles. We hope that reading this article will provide you with a solid understanding of the fundamentals required to master the usage of tattoo needles.

Some artists develop their tastes as they gain experience. Therefore some of this information may not be suitable for all users. However, it will assist those just starting and who want to learn about tattoo needles quickly.

Shmulik Dorinbaum

Shmulik Dorinbaum

A musician, a father, a former cancer person, not a tattoo artist, but a tattooed person indeed.