151+ Watercolor Tattoo Ideas to Make You Stand Out

If you are a follower of the tattoo trend then you will know about the new rave, watercolor tattoos. Whoever thought that one day the watercolor we used in art class would be used as body art? Gradually, these tattoos are taking over. With their newfound popularity, we can say the new trend is not going anywhere, anytime soon.

These tattoos are the perfect definition of imperfect beauty. This is because unlike the traditional tattoos that have a black outline and perfect symmetry, watercolor tattoos are just very different. The black outline is completely absent and the tattoos look very dreamy. No wonder many artists have described them as a “beautiful mess.”

Considering the fact that these tattoos are a relatively new trend, there is a lot to learn and many people have a lot of unanswered questions about them. This post was designed to answer most of these questions as well as inspire your next amazing watercolor body art.

What are watercolor tattoos?

Hearing the name “watercolor tattoos” one would imagine they were created in a different way from traditional tattoos. This notion is completely false, sorry to burst your bubble. They are actually created using the same methods as regular tattoos using the same instruments. What differs is the shading style and coloring techniques.

To create traditional tattoos the artist merges several solid colors in a way that it forms a large and complete image. The technique involved in designing watercolor tattoos is more subtle as the coloring is gradual. The desired look is therefore created by a more subtle merger of colors making it resemble traditional watercolor art.

As stated above, watercolor tattoos are void of outlines but with the advancement in techniques, several artists have been able to create beautiful body art by mixing watercolor and traditional tattoos. The most common themes are paint splatters and full-blown watercolor painting duplicates.

Some of the techniques used by the artists are easy to learn while it may take years of experience to master others. Some of these techniques include fades, blurs, shades, runs, and bleeds. With this, it is clear that watercolor tattoos are not as simple to achieve as they look.

Types of watercolor tattoos

Watercolor tattoos don’t totally employ a different method from traditional tattoos, needles are still used and depending on the part of the body, they can still be painful. The major difference, in this case, is that the tattoos are drawn using a different shading and coloring technique.

The idea of watercolor tattoos is relatively new on the scene but they are becoming increasingly popular. There are two major types you could choose from.

  1. No dark base watercolor tattoo. There is no solid dark outline set before the creation of this tattoo. This gives an impression that the tattoo is melting into the skin with edges looking faded. In fact, in some of these tattoos, the edges are completely unnoticeable. The best way to make these tattoos look good is to make use of vibrant colors. This makes the tattoos resemble body art rather than regular tattoos.
  2. Dark base watercolor tattoos. This is a merger of traditional tattoo techniques with the watercolor technique. Dark ink is used in making the outline of the image before the watercolor is added. A couple of people feel this totally defeats the purpose for the watercolor effect but the truth is that a contrast effect is created with the dark base.

Asides the contrast created, tattoos are done in this style tend to last longer. Even when the watercolor fades, the outline is still existent. This makes it easier for a touchup by the artist. Some folks even leave it that way as it looks like a new tattoo is born.

How fast do watercolor tattoos fade?

It is not strange to hear that these tattoos cannot last and will never stand the test of time. Critics attribute their claims to the fact that the tattoos are drawn with soft colors using very mild techniques. They conclude that since the colors lack huge levels of contrast, there is no way the tattoos will look good for long.

This isn’t totally wrong as light colors are more prone to fading than darker ones. The twist is that an experienced artist in watercolor tattoo art will definitely be able to overcome this effect. This is achieved by the use of black color to create a strong base layer. This will help to create better contrast and depth in the design.

With these measures, the tattoo is able to maintain its skeleton for longer as the lighter colors begin to wane. The fading of the lighter colors will become the unveiling of a new tattoo rather than just a blurred patch of ink. It also means that the effort required to touch up the tattoo will be minimal as the tattoo gains new life.

A salient fact is that all tattoos fade eventually, watercolor tattoos may fade faster but with the measures already discussed, the difference shouldn’t be much from traditional tattoos. By the way, the tattoos shouldn’t fade in the first year, we are talking about them lasting several years before the first sign of fading. Of course, this will depend on how well you manage the tattoo.

Also See: 150+ Hibiscus Tattoo Meanings and Designs

How to prevent the quick fading process

For traditional tattoos, there are a set of steps you need to follow to care for them so they last as long as they should. The same goes for watercolor tattoos, there are a few aftercare tips which you can take to keep them lasting for long.

The inks used in these tattoos are light and as such require a lot more care if they are going to stand the test of time. We have put together a list of tips to help you keep your tattoos longer than regular.

Select the right artist

This is key to ensuring that your tattoo lasts for long. The artist you choose must be one with enough experience with watercolor tattoos. The person must be vast in this tattooing style and be able to achieve the desired end product or even better. With a less experienced individual, you cannot avoid the tattoo fading, it is even possible it will fade faster.

Keep your tattoo from the sun

People experienced with body art already know that one of the greatest enemies of tattoos is the sun. In fact, with the watercolor style, it is a stronger foe. You can’t expect your tattoo to last for long if you constantly expose it to the sun.

It is very important that you keep it away from the sun, mostly because of the effect of the ultraviolet rays. If there’s ever a need to expose your tattoo, make sure you rub a high-quality sunscreen lotion over the area, else it is as good as faded.

Avoid rubbing over the tattoo

Imagine rubbing over a painting on paper or canvas for prolonged periods, it will definitely fade at the end of the day. This also goes for a tattoo on your body. To avoid frequent rubbing, you must be strategic about the location it is placed. There are certain locations on the body that are more prone to rubbing than others like the buttocks and feet. Avoid placing the tattoo on any of these locations and also avoid rubbing over the tattoos.

Keep your skin healthy

You cannot create great art on a poor canvas and expect it to look good. Your skin is the canvas for the tattoo art so you must take good care of it and keep it healthy for the tattoo to look good. Keeping your skin healthy requires ensuring it is well hydrated. You also need to rest well. When your skin looks good, your tattoo is bound to stay fresh.


A good moisturizer keeps your skin from wrinkling, sagging, or drying out. The moisturizer should be fragrance-free, skin-sensitive, and of good quality. This will quicken the recovery rate of your skin after the tattoo procedure.

How much do watercolor tattoos hurt?

You definitely know that the tattoo process is a painful one because of the techniques used and the needles as well. Most people ask if watercolor tattoos are as painful as traditional tattoos. They don’t. The process is a bit different even though you’ll still have to go under the needle. This time the color is injected to the top layer of your skin with the needle. It is more like a painting brush for the tattoos.

Watercolor tattoos design ideas

Check out the beautiful designs we have put together in this section. These designs would definitely inspire you to get a watercolor tattoo. They are masterpieces from some of the top watercolor tattoo artists in the world and you can work with your artists to tweak any of them for your pleasure.


Mermaid watercolor tattoo

Mermaids are really sexy and so is this tattoo inked on a part of the back. It is a real mix of colors and it is very beautiful.

Woodpecker rainbow color tattoo

Avian tattoos are beautiful any day and woodpeckers are resilient birds who would stop at anything to achieve their goal of boring holes in trees. A perfect tattoo for a determined fellow with a goal to achieve.

Colored key tattoo

A key signifies access and ownership. This beautiful tattoo which sits between the elbow and wrist is a perfect way to make a statement about a person in authority.

Rainbow reaction skull tattoo

Skulls can be quite scary and controversial but the rainbow color tones down the dangerous look making the skull look attractive. The tattoo is drawn on the upper arm and can be covered when the wearer desires.

Purple fox watercolor tattoo

Foxes are synonymous with loyalty and family bond and the purple color makes the fox more attractive. The tattoo looks amazing on the upper arm but will look good on different parts of the body. If you are keen on maintaining family bonds and loyalty then this is the tattoo for you.

Black flower watercolor tattoo

A flower drawn in black is very beautiful and the colors that fade out of the flower just make it more amazing and attractive.

Flowery watercolor tattoo

Flowers are always beautiful and so is this tattoo. A couple of flowers drawn in different shades of wine set on the upper arm. A great tattoo for any lady who is in love with her flowers.

Mid back plant tattoo

A plant speaks of growth and productivity especially with the fruits on this one. This tattoo sits in the middle of the back and it stands out perfectly especially when you have to bare your back.

Elephant rainbow tattoo

Elephants are recognized not just for their size but their intelligence and tolerance. This is a great tattoo for a person who considers himself very intelligent. The different colors make the tattoo look very attractive.

Bug symmetry watercolor tattoo

The true definition of a watercolor tattoo with a dark base. It looks great on the lower leg and the colors are very attractive when you have to wear shorts at the beach or pool.

Abstract watercolor tattoo

A very simple splash of colors that strikes the eye at first glance. Just like one of those classic Picasso art pieces.

Crown watercolor tattoo

A crown signifies royalty and this one looks like one of the crowns of the medieval era. It sits beautifully on the upper arm just below the shoulder.

Compass watercolor tattoo

Compasses are synonymous with direction. Sailors, pilots, and travelers use them to find their direction. These tattoos are a great way of telling the world about your love for traveling and geography.

Flower + text watercolor tattoo

Inking your favorite flower on your forearm along with some text. The text could be the name of someone you love or something that means a lot to you.

Deer rose watercolor tattoo

The deer is the main theme of this tattoo, drawn in black with a lot of detail. On the background is a rose flower and then there are other colorful elements of the tattoo.

Colorful jellyfish tattoo

A great way of expressing your love for sea life with the world. It shows a jellyfish in its natural habitat, the sea. This is one of those tattoos without a dark base but it still looks really beautiful.


Sun moon forearm watercolor tattoos

The tattoos are drawn on the forearms, one on each arm. The sun is one arm and the moon is on the other. The tattoo speaks volumes about the personality of an individual.


Fox on prowl tattoo

Foxes are great hunters and this tattoo shows the fox on its way to get its prey. The color fades beautifully towards the upper part of the tattoo giving that paintbrush feel.

Decorated elephant tattoo

Among the Indians, the elephant is usually decorated and used a means of transport. It looks amazing on the forearm.

Pup face tattoo

If you are a canine lover, you’ll definitely love this tattoo. It shows the cute face of a puppy on the background of several colors. With this tattoo, you will definitely spin heads, especially those of people who can’t hold back their love for dogs.

Colorful tree on back tattoo

This tree tattoo is drawn in abstract colors on one part of the back. It is simple but very beautiful. A great tattoo for a lady.

Pegasus watercolor tattoo

The legend of Hercules tells us of the amazing gift from Zeus to his son, his horse, Pegasus. This is a great way to express your love for this myth and to tell of your desire to fly to heights unknown. The tattoo is spread over the upper back.

Eagle watercolor tattoo

The eagle is the king of birds and it is a symbol of strength and power. With this tattoo on your chest, everyone knows that you are a go-getter. The eagle in this tattoo has a broken chain on one of its feet. This tells of a person looking for independence and self-dominance.

Colored dragonflies tattoo

This tattoo shows a couple of dragonflies, all painted in different colors. Though they seem like a child’s painting, they bear a form of innocent beauty.

Rose + text on the back tattoo

This tattoo is really beautiful, perfect for any lady. It sits right in the middle of the back with the head of the rose on the upper back. The stem of the rose is made up of your favorite text.

Colored feline tattoo

A cool tattoo for cat lovers. This tattoo has the outline of a cat and some colors are splashed all over the cat outline.

Other Watercolour Tattoo Ideas

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Watercolor tattoos roundup

Watercolor tattoos are truly beautiful and are a trend that has taken the tattoo world by storm. Getting one of these will definitely make you stand out and give you that unique feeling you have always wanted.

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