What is a watercolor tattoo?

February 4, 2018

We talk about our watercolor tattoos pretty often here at Human Canvas, but what exactly makes a tattoo a "watercolor" tattoo?  There seems to be some confusion, so we have some examples, and are going to explain the different ways a tattoo can earn the title watercolor. 





Watercolors are soft paintings, with pigments being used at varying values, even fading away until the white paper shows through.  As tattoos, they are know for their color, bright or muted, sometimes with soft easy transitions from one color to the next, and sometimes one color in a gradient from saturated to skin.  


These splashes of color will appear painted on, and can easily stand alone, or this paint effect can also be used in and around a black outline style tattoo, or as a background for a realistic style tattoo.  You definitely won't find any solid blocks of color like you will in traditional Sailor Jerry type tattoos, nor will the colors be filled in with the perfect precision of a realism tattoo.  Instead, these soft washes bring depth and dimension with subtle changes of saturation, often including well placed transitions of color.  




Watercolor tattoos, or a watercolor background of a tattoo, often have splashes and splatters, and color running out of the lines, giving a more painted feel.  However, this may be substituted for, or used with, other similar watercolor techniques; such as a stencil, brush stroke, sponge, or splatter effect.  


 These painting style tattoos are perfect for clients looking for a colorful, softer, or more artistic way to get a tattoo, but doing your research is important.  While it may pop on your more pallid friends, this is not the tattoo for someone with a very dark complexion, the soft colors and details will either not show up, or won't be very noticeable.  Just like realism, the watercolor and pen and ink fine art techniques take years to practice, even longer to perfect, and are not for every artist.  When done well, however, a watercolor tattoo can compliment your skin and body in a way few other tattoo styles can.  


Check out the slideshow below, featuring some of our favorite watercolor tattoos to walk out of Human Canvas, a mix by our artists, Brad, Amanda, and Corinne.  



What watercolor tattoos are you planning to get?

Tell us in the comments!



<3 The HCTS Family






All featured paintings by BRAD BELLANTE.

Check out our MEET THE ARTISTS page to learn more about our team!




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