Realistic tattoo ideas: The possibilities are endless

If you search the internet you will find many people debating, sometimes arguing realistic or realism tattoos vs. traditional tattoos. You will probably find many older, veteran tattoo artists voting for traditional and younger going for realism. Well, with over 7 billion people in the world, I think there is plenty of room for both!

Like the title of this page says, realistic tattoo ideas are endless. That is because realistic tattooing is about making the image on your skin look as close to real life as possible. Literally, anything you can think of could be tattooed, any picture or any object.

Do Your Research


realistic-tattoo-mad-hatter-300x300realistic-tattoo-skulls-300x300realistic-tattoo-terminator-300x300I would recommend spending a good amount of time researching artists near you. Look at their portfolio and check out the quality of their work.  Once you find the right artist, the image should not matter. If they are that good, then the ultimate goal is to replicate what you want exactly how it is on your skin.

One thing to think about is the size. The more detailed your image the bigger the tattoo will need to be. Your artist will definitely give you his or her opinion as to what they think they are capable of.

Realistic tattoos can be done in black in white only or color as well. They most likely will not have the bold outlines found in traditional styles of tattoos. Many artists will use shading and color contrasts to create the detail in the image.

The Big Debate

The biggest question with realistic tattoos is, with the lack of the bold outlines, how will the tattoo look 10, 15, 20 years from now? Well obviously most tattoos aren’t going to look as good 20 years from now but how quickly will these start to fade?

Tattoos can fade or distort over time for a number of reasons. Ink placed too deep in the skin can move outside of the intended areas as cells move. Some skin cells die taking the ink with it making the tattoo lighter.

This sets up smaller tattoos with a lot of detail for distortion down the road. Since the artist will have to use fine lines, they can become easily blurred with time. Larger tattoos may have a better chance of success.

Also, since tattoos only hold about 60% of the original ink put in it, this is another reason why they can fade over time. If the tattoo took a long time to heal and held less than 60%, it may fade faster. Lighter, pastel colors tend to fade quicker than black as well.One way to help your tattoo last longer might be to go over it again with a second session.

So, those are just a few things to think about when deciding on an image for your realistic tattoo. The only thing that really matters is that you like it!

It might look good for 5 years or it might look good for 10 years. But as long as you are happy then it’s worth it!


14 Replies to “Realistic tattoo ideas: The possibilities are endless”

  1. Andrew

    Absolutely right in all regards!

    I think realism is just as appropriate an art form for tattoos as any, and it’s a lot more interesting than “tribal” tattoos and barbed wire. I think it greatly depends on the skill of the artist, but they can look great even after many years! They just need to be touched up once in a while, but that’s the fun part!

  2. Armelle


    thank you for this amazing part. I don’t have a tattoo yet but I have been wanting one for years. I don’t know why it just appeals to me. Your post was very informative and I also think going with a realistic one is better. I don’t heal well as my skin is prone to cheloids. That’s the main reason I don’t have one yet.
    Thank you
    Armelle from France

    • Jeremy Post author

      Hi Armelle,

      I wanted one for a while before I got my first one and I must say I think you would regret not doing it more than getting one!

      Thanks for the feedback.

  3. Samuel

    Hi Jeremy,

    I think this article would be very helpful for someone who wants to get a tattoo but don’t know what design to put. I think a tattoo is something that you have to consider very carefully before you actually put it. For me if I were to get a tattoo, it would be something that represents me or someone that’s important to me. Many people ink themselves and regret it, because to remove it, it’s hard.


  4. Peter

    Great post I have a lot of tattoos especially a big dragon on my chest going into my back, I’m thinking about getting my daughters face incorporated under my left pec on my ribs, are there any specific artists you would recommend in Europe as travel would not be a problem.

  5. Derek

    I think that as long as you are getting what you want and they do a great job at doing it, it shouldn’t matter all that much. Anyone who has tattoos knows that time will fade them and they wont be as good as they used to be down the road. But if that doesn’t stop you then go for it.

    Great article!

  6. udoh


    Thank you providing great and useful information on realistic tattoos. I always wondered what the difference was between realistic and traditional and now I know. I like reading about your tattoo articles.


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