25 Extreme Blackout Tattoos That Reimagine the Limits of a Cover-Up

What is a blackout tattoo? Historically, they are a form of tattoo coverup that involves liberally applying tattoo ink to an area so that it’s “blacked out.” However, these tattoos have become a trend over the last decade with tattoo enthusiasts opting to use the big block of color to accentuate the negative space which forms an inventive design. These tattoos are controversial and come with some risks including infection, inflammation, and allergic reactions. Dark pigments utilized in tattoo ink can contain titanium dioxide, lead, nickel, and chromium which can seep into the bloodstream. Normal tattoos don’t require a massive amount of ink and generally, those risks are minimal.

Fears over these tattoos aren’t slowing the trend and people are getting extremely creative, tattooing inventive designs that are truly remarkable. A very cool new form that artists have been experimenting with is white ink on top of a blackout and the results will take your breath away. Get ready to cringe, cover your mouth, or pass out from thinking about how painful these blackout tattoos are! Here are 25 extreme blackout tattoos you need to see.

Getting to Know You

For starters, we chose this blackout sleeve tattoo because it’s a solid example of what a traditional blackout looks like. There are some interesting details at the shoulder and wrist but for the most part it looks like this arm has been dipped in crude oil. Now, let’s discover where this trend goes.

24. Ripples

This tattoo cover-up has been given more thought than just ink from top to bottom. At the shoulder, the artist has shaded a nice ripple effect that turns to black before exploding into lines that surround the elbow.

23. What Blackout Can Be

This is another cover-up tattoo that uses the “blank” skin to create a very cool architectural scene. An artist who can be strategic will help you find a balance so that the entire arm doesn’t need to get totally inked and you can achieve a cool design.

22. People Want What They Want

Here’s another example of a basic blackout tattoo that the artist nor the person getting the tattoo intended to be anything other than a block of ink. People with this much coverage can expect the entire area to peel as it heals.

21. Traditional with a Twist

This American traditional style eagle has been made out of a blackout tattoo that takes up the majority of the forearm. This design looks great and is very creative. When most people get these blackwork tattoos, they do not generally opt for colors at all.

20. Waves

Similar to the rippled effect we saw earlier, this half sleeve blackout has some interest up near the shoulder. It appears that portion of the tattoo was done all in dots which gives it a very psychedelic look.


This mandala tattoo has been completed on top of a blackout with white ink. We imagine the tattoo artist will have to (carefully) apply several layers to achieve this and make the lighter ink pop.

18. Abstraction

Wow! This stunning tattoo has a couple of abstract designs that peek through and look bold and amazing. This image was shared by the tattoo artist who lives in El Salvador and he described the photo in caption, writing that he completed it on his little brother.

17. Atlas

Well, as you can see here there’s a giant black disk in the center of this man’s chest that even covers his nipples. This was an interesting design choice and we’re curious if it relates to the blackout sleeves he also has.

16. A Whole Leg

This is a giant leg sleeve that’s been done in mostly blacked out blocks with contrasts of intricacy near the thigh where a chrysanthemum design blossoms. This is a stunning tattoo that manages to strike balance even with the vast areas of black ink.

15. Fall into It

Many people who are interested in getting a blackout cover-up tattoo like the idea but aren’t crazy about a hard stop that makes it look like a sleeve of a shirt with just a straight, blunt ending. This nature-inspired design incorporates leaves into the blackout and feathers out to soften its appearance and create visual interest.

14. Blank Space

This eyecatching blackout tattoo avoided some skin to allow it to create the design. The bold, abstract shapes are beautiful and the way the blackout tapers to dots is a very nice touch.

13. Bionic Part 1

This blackout sleeve looks like a futuristic spacesuit. Like the tattoo above, the skin beneath creates visual interest and movement with lines that encompass the entire arm.

12. Shattered

This design looks like a piece of black glass has been broken with its fragments forming a sort of organic, angular pattern at the wrist and elbow. We’re not sure what was under there before but this black ink is not going anywhere.

11. Work in Progress

This big and bold floral blackout got interrupted because of the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean it’s not already impressive. The greys and shading used inside the petals of the flowers for this sleeve offer so much drama.

10. A Storm of Shapes

This busy design is another blackout tattoo that’s been topped with a gagillion white ink shapes. Ranging from geometric to more fluid, the design is unlike anything we’ve seen.

9. Kaleidoscope

This finely detailed tattoo is remarkable and so sharp. The delicate design contrasts strongly with the boldness of its black background. An impressive piece.

8. Big Flowers in a Sea of Black

Giant blossoms and a few fallen leaves are all that you can discern from this full sleeve tattoo. This was definitely a commitment.

7. Paint

There’s more than one way to skin a cat and as you can see, there are several ways to get a blackout tattoo. This huge full-arm blackout looks like it’s been applied by paintbrush rather than a tattoo gun. The “brushstrokes” are most evident at the shoulder and forearm, where you can even see a hint at what’s underneath.

6. Woah

We’ve got more chrysanthemums here in this incomplete tattoo. Because this person is so pale the black and white really contrast here. The careful linework used to create the petals of the flower is beautiful.

5. Swooshed

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This is a touch looking blackout tattoo that’s clearly not trying to completely obscure the tattoos that were there before. That’s a flex. The black swooshes look like slashed fabric.

4. Fade to Black

This rose and honeycomb design fades to black by the time it hits the wrist. It was a choice that we’re not crazy about, but we’ve seen a few people with this sort of blackout. If the black was bolder, richer it would be more appealing.

3. Bionic Part 2

Another robotic tattoo, this sleeve resembles a circuit board. White ink has not been used here, just blank space. The tattoo artist who shared the design said they lost track of how many hours it took.

2. Macabre

This scary sleeve features a ghastly skull that occupies the entire bicep while the forearm is completely done in black. The cool splintered design at the wrist ties the whole grim design together.

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1. A Floral Scene

Okay, so we freaked you out with that last one, but this blackout is completely pleasant. The tattoo artist who shared the image says it has taken 19 hours so far and that another session is scheduled for when this heals… You guys. This design is undeniably gorgeous. A variety of flowers and leaves bring softness and playfulness to this showstopping tattoo.

Do you have it in you to get this much ink? These blackout tattoos are extreme and we know they will not be for everyone, but the possibilities are endless. A talented tattoo artist with an eye for economy can achieve great things in this format.

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