Shader vs Liner Machines: 6 Factors That Differentiate Them

Are you considering getting a tattoo machine? If so, you may wonder what the differences are in shader vs liner machines.

A shader machine produces thicker and darker lines, while a liner machine creates finer and lighter lines. The type of machine you choose will depend on the application, so it’s essential to understand how each works.

In this blog post, I’ll discuss the differences between liner and shader tattoo machines and help you decide which type of machine is best for your needs.

Key Takeaways

  • Shader tattoo machines are best used for bolder and darker lines when creating tattoos.
  • Liner tattoo machines are best suited for finer and lighter lines.
  • Understanding the differences between shaders and liners will help you choose the suitable machine for your application.

What Are Shader and Liner Tattoo Machines?

As mentioned, a shader tattoo machine is a heavy-duty motor that can be used to create thicker and darker lines. It is designed to last LONGER and produces BETTER results, but it also takes more time and effort.

shader vs liner, what's the best

On the other hand, liner machines are lighter in weight and designed for finer and lighter lines. They offer more control than shader machines and are ideal for PRECISE line work.

6 Factors That Differentiate Shader vs. Liner Tattoo Machines

Now that you know the basics, let’s look at what differentiates shader and liner tattoo machines or guns. Here are a few of the factors that set them apart:

1. Power

When it comes to power, a shader tattoo gun tends to be more POWERFUL than liner machines.

They are typically HIGHER-WATTAGE motors, making them better suited for creating thicker and darker lines.

On the other hand, a liner tattoo gun has a LOW-WATTAGE motor that can create fine and light lines with great precision.

2. Speed

A shader gun is generally FASTER than liner machines. This means they can be used to create thicker lines in a shorter amount of time and with less effort.

However, these machines require more PRACTICE to master and may take longer for beginners to learn how to use them correctly.

Liner machines are SLOWER but offer more control over each line. This makes them ideal for fine line work and detailed designs, as they can create precise lines with minimal effort from tattoo artists.

3. Needles

The needle size will depend on the tattoo machine type, so it’s essential to check that your machine is using the correct needle size for the job [1]. Shader machines use thicker needles, and liner machines use thinner needles.

shader vs liner, what's the best

Both machines also use different types of needles depending on the APPLICATION. Shader machines can use round or flat needles, while liner machines typically use round or mag needles.

The NUMBER of needles used will also depend on the type of machine, as liner machines tend to use fewer needles than liner machines.

4. Coils

In terms of coils, shader machines typically have TWO coils, while liner machines usually only have ONE.

The extra coil in a shader machine helps provide more power and control, allowing the user to create thicker lines with greater precision.

5. Weight

Shader machines are usually HEAVIER than liner machines because of their extra coil and thicker needles. This makes them more difficult to use, especially for beginners.

On the other hand, liner machines are LIGHTER and offer better control over each line.

6. Cost

Shader tattoo guns tend to be more EXPENSIVE than liner machines, but they are worth the cost if you are looking for a heavy-duty machine that can produce better results.

Liner tattoo guns offer GREAT value for money and are ideal for those who don’t need the power of a shader machine.

Pro Tip: If you are starting out, it’s best to opt for a cheaper liner machine until you get more comfortable with using one.

Looking for the best tanning bed lotion for tattoos? Check out our article for some great options and tips on how to keep your ink looking its best while achieving a sun-kissed glow. Don’t miss out!

Common Mistakes When Choosing a Tattoo Machine

When choosing a tattoo machine, it’s essential to be aware of common mistakes people make.

First, many assume that shader tattoo guns are the ONLY type suitable for creating thicker and darker lines. However, this is not always the case; liner machines can create thicker and darker lines if used CORRECTLY to create the tattoo outline.

Second, some people mistakenly believe that shader machines are too DIFFICULT to use. While they may require more practice than liner machines, they can be mastered with time and effort.

Finally, it’s important to remember that the type of machine you choose will DEPEND on the application. Make sure you understand how each machine works before making a decision.

Pro Tip: It’s always a good idea to research and talk to an experienced tattoo artist before buying a machine.

Tips on Using Liner and Shader Machines Effectively

Once you have chosen a suitable machine for a particular application, here are some tips and tricks to help you maximize its potential.

  • When using a shading machine, it’s essential to keep your hand STEADY and use short strokes for the best results. This will ensure that each line is consistent and of an even thickness of your tattoo outlines.
  • For liner machines, use LIGHT pressure and take your time when laying down each line. This will help you create the most precise lines possible.
  • Finally, always be aware of how MUCH ink is being used and try not to overwork the skin. Doing this will help you achieve optimal results with minimal damage to the skin.

Related: What is the Best Tattoo Machine for Beginners?


How Can I Use A Liner Tattoo Machine To Create Thicker Lines?

Using a liner gun to create thicker lines is possible, but it requires practice and skill. You can start by increasing the machine’s wattage and using a thicker needle.

Which Type Of Tattoo Machine Is Best For Beginners?

Typically, liner machines are best for beginners as they require less power and offer more control over each line. They are also lighter than shader machines, making them easier to learn and use.

How Much Power Does A Shader Machine Have?

Depending on the type of machine you are using, the wattage can range from 5-30 watts. The higher the wattage, the more power the machine has.

How Much Practice Do I Need To Master A Shader Machine?

Mastering a shader machine can take a few weeks to a few months of practice. It is essential to learn how to control the power and speed of the machine, as well as understand when it’s appropriate to use which type of needle.


Now that you know the difference between shader and liner tattoo machines, you can decide which tool is best for your needs. If you are starting, it’s best to go for a lightweight liner machine until you get more practice.

Remember that proper technique, knowledge of the equipment, and practice are all essential components of becoming an experienced tattoo artist!

what to know about shader vs liner machines

So, what will you prefer between shader vs liner machines? Share your choice with us in the comments section!


  • Danny. Your Complete Guide to Tattoo Needles: Types, Sizes & Uses. Painful Pleasures Community. Published June 7, 2022. Accessed November 18, 2022.
About Edith Russo

Edith is a self-made entrepreneur with a keen business sense that others admire and a total “can-do” attitude. She’s always coming up with new ideas to anticipate her readers’ needs and help solve all their toughest beauty and skincare problems. READ HER LATEST ARTICLES. FOLLOW HER on Linkedin and Twitter. Learn more about her HERE.

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