Sketch tattoos AKA sketch-style tattoos are a fashionable tattoo trend that uses lines like you’d find in an artist’s sketch as elements of a tattoo’s design. These tattoos have an animated quality to them and are often found in working in concert with watercolor tattoo elements. In general, if these tattoos aren’t looking radical with colorful ink, they’re done in simple black and grey. The designs tend to look like balanced pencil drawings or highly graphic and full of movement.
This trend has been popular with fans of animation (there are a ton of Disney tattoos utilizing this effect) for a long time now. These individuals want to push the boundaries of how tattoos should look and how they’re composed. These creative sketch tattoo designs are such fun and we’ve found many examples to inspire you. Take a look at these sketch tattoos that utilize elements of drafting and technical drawing to bring completely original tattoo designs.
Get Inspired By These Awesome Sketch Tattoos That Draw Inspiration from Drafting.
As we mentioned, the sketch tattoo marries well with watercolor effects. This tattoo of a wolf skull is a beautiful example that delivers plenty of drama. The inclusion of white ink really makes this tattoo stand out and helps give the blacks and blues so much depth.
Again, we find the watercolor effect as you will see with a variety of sketch tattoos. This design is all about adventure and the amazing places this person wants to see around the world.
This humble floral, sketch tattoo uses tons of little dots and hatching to give the design elements of sketching and drawing. The swooping curves and circles give these edelweiss flowers movement and vibrancy.
As promised, here’s a Disney-inspired sketch tattoo of Minnie Mouse. The artist could have left out all of the shading and you’d be left with a flatter design. Instead, the tattoo looks like it’s been quick-sketched.
This floral scene is rather large and just about constitutes a half sleeve. The busy design is full of life just like its subject matter. Sketch tattoos inspired by nature are well represented and for good reason.
This dark ink design employs a good deal of movement lines near the breaking wave to give an overall appearance of being “unfinished.” Which is exactly what you want with this tattoo trend.
A Poisoned Apple
The poisoned apple from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves is iconic. As you can see, the hand holding the apple is tattooed with fine, black, and grey lines with the apple dripping with color. This is such a fun Disney sketch tattoo.
A Majestic Elephant
Wow! This is one big sketch tattoo of an elephant! We love the use of geometric, angular shapes, and hard lines to give the character so much emotion. There are “splatters” of ink included as well to further complete the illusion.
An Evocative Eye
This glassy eye uses a lot of crosshatching and dots to achieve the sketch tattoo effect. We love how the artist reserved color for the iris.
A Ballerina’s Dance
We’ve written a lot about movement in this post because it’s captured so well in this trend. This sketch tattoo of a ballerina dancing is the perfect example. The movement lines accentuate the shape and give it so much life.
This pastel cat/dragon hybrid is a little stunner. We love all the blues and purples used to give this cat its color. The fur coat is further realized by thin, black linework throughout.
Will this person take off in flight if they do jumping jacks? It’s highly unlikely but this wind on the arm is a rather moving design.
A Wise Owl
This owl sketch tattoo highlights the best qualities of illustrative design. Using just simple lines, this owl is brought to life.
Do you remember the cartoon Sailor Moon and all those adorable little brooches? As we mentioned, these designs work extremely well when paying tribute to a beloved animated work. This sketch tattoo is colorful and happy.
Yes, people are getting coronavirus tattoos. The person who shared this image included the caption “quarantine.” As you can see, the design is a person stuck inside a house and it captures the feeling of isolation many of us felt in the early months of the pandemic.
Listen to Your Heart
Here’s one of the most stylized sketch tattoos on this list. We find an anatomical heart filled with all sorts of sketchy details. This is a masterpiece and very unique.
One of our favorite sketch tattoos on this list finds a hand puppet with a strange character. It’s very mysterious and we can’t stop looking at it.
We’re all about pet tattoos and these adorable cats are just marvelous. The cats’ faces are so expressive and the clean lines really make this tattoo a standout.
Ew but yes. This bug tattoo of a cicada is somewhat unnerving because it’s one of our least favorite bugs. The sound alone triggers fears of finding their little exoskeleton things hanging on to tree bark and everything else. Alas, the tattoo itself is wonderful.
This pretty pink lotus flower is backed by a rich, blue diamond and bespotted bars. The movement lines that surround the blossom make the flower appear to be spinning or floating in space. The juxtaposition of straight hard lines with the soft roundness of the flower is gorgeous.
Cow is king. This person must really have an affinity for cattle, there’s no other reasoning, right? At any rate, this very big chest piece has a wingspan that incorporates many dots and dashes for shading. The cow’s face is also composed of pretty obvious, simple shapes that make it most appealing.
This windmill scene is remarkable. It looks like something you’d find in an old children’s book.
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For the Dressmaker
This tattoo belongs to a seamstress and dressmaker who clearly loves her trade. The cute, cartoonish design includes a watercolor effect in soft pink and blue which gives this tat such brightness.
This Sloth is Eating a Cheeseburger
What in the world is happening here? You’re looking at a sloth eating a cheeseburger while wearing a basketball jersey. We have to mention that the look of pure pleasure the sloth displays is something we can relate to. Probably the only relatable thing about this very strange sketch tattoo.
This wonderfully creative sketch tattoo design comes from South Korea and looks like it’s been ripped from the pages of a very elegant coloring book. We love an artist who isn’t afraid to color outside the lines and we’ve found that perfectly acceptable in this sweet tattoo.
Ride That Bike
Here’s a standout sketch tattoo that finds a little boy on a tricycle. The color looks like it’s been airbrushed on.
Here’s a fun shark tooth sketch tattoo that makes a big impression. If you love the sea, consider something similar for yourself.
How cute is this little monkey? It feels like the sketch tattoos that are the most simple are the most successful.
Okay! A frog, but make it a gentleman. Let your imagination run free and work with an artist with a point of view to help you realize your vision.
Here’s a warrior of a sketch tattoo that features a Spartan soldier dressed for battle. It’s a rather large example that shows that this style of tattooing works for any shape.
How beautiful is this portrait tattoo? The sketch elements are subtle here which totally works for this delicate design.
What happened to poor Peter? We did not expect to find a dead-eyed Peter Pan when we started this list but here we are.
We love a good Medusa tattoo. Color has been applied in the most interesting way for this sketch tattoo. Consider something similar for your own.
Stippling is a shading technique found in other forms of visual art. We find it put to very good use in this Scorpio tattoo.
How cute is Piglet in this half-sleeve tattoo? We love the warm, autumnal colors used for this one.
Take a look at all of the texture that’s been applied to the leaves and petals of this rose. What a stunner!
How about a stack of books? If you love to read, consider book-inspired sketch tattoos.
Wow! This is a masterpiece that plays with color beautifully. This little pup’s face is everything.
In this Libra tattoo, we find the scales in perfect balance. Notice the delicate constellation that’s been formed by tons of tiny dots.
Light and Dark
Here’s a rather dark sketch tattoo of bright things. It offers an interesting juxtaposition between light and dark.
Here’s a broken hourglass which could symbolize a number of things. Letters and floating shapes help add visual interest to this remarkable design.
A Mickey Moment
Here’s yet another Disney tattoo for you. We find Mickey himself looking like he’s jumped right off a page and onto this person’s arm.
Here’s another astrology-inspired tattoo. This one celebrates Sagittarius with a goddess-like figure.
For lovers of space, you can get a sketch tattoo of an astronaut or celestial bodies. This one is a rather whimsical take.
A couple of kittens look smashing in these kawaii friend tattoos. How fun is that color?
Life and Death
We find life stemming from death in this sketch tattoo of florals on a skull. The color has been applied here in the most magical manner. The artist really had a vision for this one.
Here’s a cheeky Bambi tattoo that’s framed with a loose diamond border. The lines used for the shading are so incredibly fine they took some real skill to apply.
Bambi Another Way
Here’s another deer sketch tattoo that takes things to the next level. Hyperrealism meets sketch in this design for a winning combination and a showstopping tattoo.
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A ship on stormy seas is the theme of the last two sketch tattoos on this list. Here’s one done in black and grey that looks very dramatic.
Finally, we leave you with a stormy sea personified with the hair taking on characteristics of choppy waves. Pastel colors help finish this design with a touch of sweetness.
There you go! 50 sketch tattoos that are inspired by illustrative design and drawing. We love this remarkable trend and all of the different methods and techniques artists are using to achieve it. We hope you’re inspired and might consider getting a little weird with your next tattoo design.
Andrew is an Assistant Editor for Mamas Uncut with over ten years of experience as a writer in the creative, marketing, and blogging spaces. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a passion for telling stories in a variety of mediums. Obsessively making lists, reporting celebrity news, and diving into emerging pop cultural topics are a few of his interests.
- 1 Get Inspired By These Awesome Sketch Tattoos That Draw Inspiration from Drafting.
- 2 Woof!
- 3 Endless Possibility
- 4 Edelweiss
- 5 Lil’ Minnie
- 6 Vibrant Flowers
- 7 Ocean Scene
- 8 A Poisoned Apple
- 9 A Majestic Elephant
- 10 An Evocative Eye
- 11 A Ballerina’s Dance
- 12 Purrfect
- 13 Wing It!
- 14 A Wise Owl
- 15 Sailor Moon
- 16 Quarantine
- 17 Listen to Your Heart
- 18 Puppet Master
- 19 Cute Cats
- 20 Bugging Out
- 21 Floating Lotus
- 22 Moo-dy
- 23 A Windmill
- 24 For the Dressmaker
- 25 This Sloth is Eating a Cheeseburger
- 26 Juicy
- 26.1 Ride That Bike
- 26.2 Toothy
- 26.3 Monkey Business
- 26.4 Count Frog
- 26.5 The Spartan
- 26.6 Portrait
- 26.7 Zombie Pan
- 26.8 Medusa
- 26.9 Stunning Stippling
- 26.10 Piglet
- 26.11 Feeling Floral
- 26.12 Stacked
- 26.13 Another Pup
- 26.14 The Scales
- 26.15 Light and Dark
- 26.16 Broken Time
- 26.17 A Mickey Moment
- 26.18 Lady Sagittarius
- 26.19 Galactic
- 26.20 Cute Kitties
- 26.21 Life and Death
- 26.22 Bambi Boo
- 26.23 Bambi Another Way
- 26.24 Set Sail
- 26.25 Tempest
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