Video: Introduction to Using Wiser Stencils for Airbrush Tattoos

The Wiser Stencils are distinctive because they have both the negative and the positive space portion of the stencil. For most designs, I use the interior piece of the stencil, and spray the negative space around it.

Hold the stencil down as well as possible to keep ink from blowing in between the stencil and the skin. This will make your lines more sharp. I use non-latex gloves on both hands, but especially for the hand which is holding the stencil, you're going to want to wear a glove to keep it from being covered with ink while you're working.

Each artist is going to find the way of doing this that works best for them, but what I like to do is to spray the center area first, and then finish with the outer edge. At some point you're going to have to move your hand in order to hold another part of the stencil while you continue working, so if it shifts out of position a little bit while you're doing this, just take a moment and line it up again before you continue.

Once the main image is complete, you can use one of the extra accessories to add some more detail. In this case, I'm using the extra stencil to add more of a fur look to the lion's mane. As I'm using the stencil, I spray lightly, and move the stencil around as is necessary to complete the different areas.

The tattoo won't look realistic unless you go ahead and add some freehand shading. For some of this you may need to use wingdings, which are just small curved plastic pieces that you can use to cover up one area while you're airbrushing around it.

It's in doing the freehand shading that your practice with the airbrush is going to really show up. The stencil won't do everything for you, so it's important to train yourself with basic airbrushing skills so that you have the best end results for your client.

The final step, use one of your texture stencils, like this graffiti stencil, to create more visual interest around the tattoo. Experiment with combining these extra elements and discovering which ones work best with each of your tattoos.

And as you can see, the Wiser Stencils are actually pretty easy to use! If you have any knowledge of airbrushing, they're easy to adapt to. I would really suggest, even though they are really easy to use, that you take some time and work with your airbrush if you haven't airbrushed before, try to build basic skills with it, because those will help you in making your stencils and your airbrush tattoos look even better on the job.

About two years ago I purchased an Iwata compressor and a couple of airbrushes. Since then, I've slowly been accumulating Wiser stencils with the idea of incorporating a mid-week restaurant client or two into my schedule with realistic waterproof airbrush tattoos. Wiser stencils are easy to use and a lot of fun. My favorite part is the reaction of the clients when they see just how real the tattoos look. I thought young children could be giddy with anticipation when it came to face painting, but teens and adults leave them in the dust with their excitement over getting a realistic airbrush tattoo (or two or three). 

If you haven't had the opportunity to try out the Wiser stencils, I hope this introductory video shows you just how useful they can be for your business. Check out our great selection of kid-sized and adult-sized Wiser tattoo stencils now available through

Beth MacKinney is the owner of and primary face painter for Face Paint Pizzazz in Elgin, Illinois, and her artwork has appeared in The Colored Palette and SkinMarkz magazines. She services the western and northwestern Chicago suburbs, Chicago’s north side, and the eastern and southeastern suburbs of Rockford. Stop by to enjoy more of Beth’s face painting tutorials.