For many tattoo lovers, skin is just a canvas ready for an artist’s touch. While some prefer the more traditional black and grey style of tattoo, others live for color. A trend that has taken off over the last ten years is the watercolor tattoo. A watercolor tattoo is a tattoo that’s rich in color and movement but light on hard lines. Watercolor tattoos transform skin into works of art and when they’ve been executed properly, they have an almost ethereal quality which is much different than a classic tattoo. These types of tattoos look like they’ve been applied by paintbrush rather than by a needle and that is due in part to the tattooing process for them. Watercolor tattoos require a light hand and ink is applied sparingly. If a traditional tattoo relies on saturating the pierced skin with color to achieve truly permanent tattooing, watercolor tattoos merely want the ink to kiss the skin. Practically, this means that watercolor tattoos will fade more than others over time, requiring touchups and retouches over time. We need to love them while they last! Let’s take a look at some of the most colorful and unique watercolor tattoos.
27. A Many-Hued Humming Bird
The colors of this tattoo appear to be floating on air. A very bright and dazzling hummingbird takes a sip of nectar from beautiful, red flowers. This tattoo puts off impressionism vibes due to the lack of hard lines and edges.
26. A Chihuahua Paw
This woman’s chihuahua left its mark! This watercolor tattoo of a pet’s paw is just too sweet. The vibrant colors and specks of paint along with darker colors bleeding into lighter ones, give this design some serious watercolor cred.
Tattoo artist Marco Pepe Encre specializes in watercolor tattoos. In general, you don’t often see a lot of black ink when it comes to this genre of tattoo. The dark, black lines contrast with the seemingly transparent colored inks. It looks as if you’re staring through a piece of stained glass.
24. Put a Bird on It
Scenes from nature and wildlife translate well for watercolor tattoos. This little blue and green bird with pops of orange and purple is a big statement for such a small size. The feathers of the bird’s wings look like they’re composed of actual brush strokes.
23. Oh Hey, Manta-Ray
This tattoo of a manta ray looks like it’s swimming up from the depths of the sea. The ray itself is a shadowy black figure. Then, there are splashes of blue and purple that make the tattoo interesting.
22. Gemini in the Sky
For lovers of astrology tattoos, you can combine your love for your sign with tons of vivid color. This Gemini tattoo contains the symbol for the sign, but it’s “outlined” only in color. There are no hard lines. For the constellation, the tattoo artist has chosen black ink for contrast. The swirling colors mimic the night sky and almost look like the northern lights.
21. A Far-Out Rose
This watercolor tattoo just so happens to be hiding something. As if by magic, this cosmic-colored rose doubles as a coverup tattoo.
20. A Rainbow Seahorse
This tiny little seahorse behind the ear is darling. The artist has used a dark black outline and then applied organic bursts of color. This is a smart application of a watercolor tattoo because the black lines will not fade too much and then the color can be reapplied to give it a boost down the line.
19. A Fiery Fox
This gorgeous black and grey fox tattoo is taken to a whole new level by incorporating a rust-colored glow that almost looks like a cloud. There is some light scarring on the skin, but the tattoo artist has masterfully worked them into the design. This is a remarkable tattoo.
18. Goth Goodness
This haunting tattoo is kissed by darkness. We absolutely adore it! Be bold, it pays.
17. A Light in the Darkness
This tattoo of a lighthouse would be handsome without the color. The stark black and crosshatched shading are delightful. But, with the addition of watercolor, this tattoo offers so much warmth.
This busy tattoo is chocked full of symbolism. Do we understand what that symbolism means? No! Do we hate it? No! The use of color here is amazing and it vacillates between watercolor and comic book pop art. Stay weird, people!
15. A Colorful Tribute
The person with this tattoo shared this picture along with a dedication to their mom. The subject of the tattoo looks almost like a Disney princess. The color has been applied to look almost like spraypaint.
14. Birds of a Feather
These two love birds are sharing a perch together and snuggling. Love that! The birds are colored ever so delicately with light blue ink. The entire tattoo is punctuated by pops of red the give even more visual interest.
What really matters here is the watercolor effect. There is every color of the rainbow present in the background of the tattoo, each to varying degrees of transparency. Wow!
12. A Splashy Rose
This watercolor tattoo of a rose makes a splash! The rose looks like it’s landing in a pool of water. If you’ve ever painted with watercolor, part of the fun (and challenge) is letting the water and pigment bleed onto paper. The way the edges are slightly darker and then fade out on this tattoo effectively recreates the effect.
11. A Jackalope Angel?
This bizarre tattoo of a winged jackalope is something to behold. We do not know entirely what’s going on here, but points for creativity! The cool color palette of purple and blue give this chilly design a psychedelic flare.
10. A Butterfly Dream
Coincidentally, this swirling watercolor masterpiece is a coverup sleeve. Muhammad Ali once said, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” Could there be a more apt description of this tattoo?
The neon-colored rose seems to drip with paint. The design uses text for what would typically be the stem of a rose to include “enjoy the silence.” We love the way black and grey were used for the stem and quote leaving so much of the visual weight for the petals of the flower. A stunner!
8. Catch ’em All
For those of you not up on your Pokémon, this tattoo is of a Snorlax. Yes, this cute Japanese animated creature is pictured here eating a cupcake! The design of this tattoo looks like a pencil drawing that’s been lightly kissed with watercolor. This took some incredible skill from the tattoo artist to pull off.
7. Starlight, Star Bright!
There’s nothing more majestic and humbling than a big sky full of stars. This tattoo shows a stargazer in black and grey ink looking into a night sky that’s exploding with color. Each star is created with the absence of ink. Wow!
6. A Honeycomb Garden
This extremely playful tattoo balances the structure of a geometric honeycomb with the gentle shapes of flowers. They play well off one another and seem to swirl together into one harmonious design.
5. Nesting Dolls
These cute and cheery nesting dolls are splattered with bright blue and red. There are also motion lines below and above the dolls to give them the appearance of movement.
4. Couldn’t Let It Go
This watercolor tattoo is unique because the design includes a frame: the iconic Mickey Mouse. Inside, characters from Disney’s Frozen stand in front of a globe. The dramatic scene is centered around the heart in the middle of the tattoo. Can you spot it?
3. Faster than a Speeding Bullet!
These days, Superman inspired tattoos are cliché. Have you ever since one this dazzling, though? This color-rich tattoo features twisting lines to form the “S” and drips with a cosmic blue that looks like stars. This tattoo also evokes splatter paint memories. What a fun take on an often done tattoo design.
2. Pure Pulp
Have you ever? This person has an entire movie poster tattooed on them! This Pulp Fiction inspired watercolor tattoo would make Tarantino proud. There’s a lot to unpack here. First, Samuel L. Jackson looks nearly photorealistic while the rest of the tattoo gives more of an impressionist imagining of a different scene from the film.
1. Betta Beautiful
Look at what a difference contrasting colors can make. By using the opposite colors, the fish really pop. We love these ghostly little fish.
Watercolor tattoos are a great way to add a pop of color to your life. If you don’t like coloring in the lines, consider getting a watercolor tattoo. Certain tattoo artists specialize in the technique and can give you a dream tattoo that’s dripping with color. Watercolor tattoos are trending right now because they often don’t look real. These tattoos appear painted on like little masterpieces for your skin. We hope you enjoyed these watercolor tattoos.
Andrew is a Chicago-based writer who enjoys finding the best of the internet, obsessively making lists, and cooking for friends. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a deep love for both topics. Celebrity news, pop culture, and stories that bring people together are his passions.
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