Superman on 12.20.11canada
For needle type and configuration, I would suggest mithra needles, bugpin curve, 7,9,11 mag, for your portrait work. or long taper m2 configuration.
4 round for most of the finer detail shading.
black and grey work I would suggest dynamic black, goes in a little darker but lightens up a lot once healed.
I assume you asking what type of carrier to use with your grey wash, I would suggest, just plain distilled water, or try silverback clear.
as for size that is solely bases on your skill level, but personally I would try to keep each portrait around 6 inches or bigger. the larger the tattoo the better the detail in key areas like the eyes (reflections etc).
also bro as for any advise on making your portraits more realistic, I would suggest that you slow down your machine, keep a consistent sweeping motion to build your tones. if your machine is slower, you can spend more time to smooth out the blends. also for the really lighter tone be a little lighter on the skin and in some cases just kiss the surface. it will hardly be noticeable once healed, but as a whole it will tighten up the piece more.
A common problem some people have when doing portraits is that they focus mostly on the eyes, nose and mouth,and sometimes get lost in the tones and use that as their bases for finishing the piece, in stead of doing this, try to start at the bottom of the piece and work your way up. or from the outside in. focus on the details of the entire portrait. more often than not, once an artist is doing the portrait , after the eyes,noes,and,mouth is done, they don't focus as much detail on the hair, or ears, or all other surrounding sections of the piece. if you work from the outside in, it will allow you to get the areas that normally don't get the most attention finished first, and even towards the end you will spend just as much time on the eyes, nose ect as you did with the surrounding areas.
another tip for details is in areas of say the eyelashes and eye brows. if you have the skills with a single round, I would suggest that you use a much lighter shade instead of black for these areas, this will allow for a more separated look of the details and will look much cleaner and sharper for many years after.
as for you highlights, do go into it with straight white, but rather give the white a quick dunk into your dirty rinse cup to tone it down a little for a more polished look. also your highlights are the one area that can really bring your portrait together, so focus on this.
another thing you can do before starting your tattoo, is to bump up the contrast of your picture in photoshop, edit key areas that may not be noticeable in the reference photo. also you will find that the most realistic tattoos are not exact copies of the original reference photo, but that the contrast in key areas are bumped up much more than the reference photo.
another small tip if you don't already know is your stencil, put a lot of time on your stencil, add as much detail as possible, the details will really enhance your work. don't get me wrong, some artist can just do a few lines and pull off an incredible portrait, but until your skills are at that level, I would suggest lots of detail in your stencil. the better the stencil , the better the tattoo. well bro, I think that covers all your questions,
I hope that helps man. take care.