Top 103 Black And Gray Tattoos Ideas – [2020 Inspiration Guide]
Today’s top-notch tattoos are all about the grandeur of gradients. By mastering the art of shading, 21st century parlors have unlocked the secret to seductive realism through body art.
For a very long time, the tattoo industry was dominated by the integration of single-color designs.
This state of style was primarily a result of necessity; however, the times have finally changed to propagate massively complex forms of shading. The transformative capacity of our futuristic ink has generated serious possibilities in regards to depth and shadows.
With the inclusion of shaded gradients, wildly rich 3D designs have suddenly been enabled. This revelation has paved the path forward for tons of new body art variations. For example, realistic portraiture is now commonplace, and the same is true for extensive landscapes. These sprawling designs can cover the entire surface area of your body, and they can even be applied to link unrelated pieces together.
Shaded tattoos are also an excellent selection for stylizing letters for more visual impact. Truthfully, there are zero limits to the possibilities being opened up by black and white tattoos.
To glean the full range of customizable creativity, just explore our compilation of cutting-edge samples up ahead.
1. Nautical Themed Black and Gray Tattoos
The entire tradition of tattooing in the West was born in the salty spray of the nautical world. It was sailors, crisscrossing the globe that first observed the Polynesian art of tattooing and brought this exotic practice back to Europe where for decades it remained a fringe art, reserved for the rougher segments of society.
In the modern world, tattooing is no longer restricted to sailors and criminals, however tattooing’s nautical past continues to provide compelling subject matter for designs. From the bold lines and simplified images of American traditional pieces to hyper-realistic depictions of fully rigged ships, as these pieces demonstrate, the variety of styles and approaches that can be applied to nautical tattoos is virtually endless.
2. Pop Culture Realism Black and Gray Tattoos
While photo-realism has been a popular style for a long time in the world of black and gray tattooing, the skill and talent of today’s artists is mind blowing. By applying fully saturated black ink and utilizing a subtle gradation of tones—from pitch black all the way to negative space—these artists are able to create the contrast that gives these pieces depth and helps the designs pop.
While many people prefer this realistic approach for portraits of deceased family members and loved ones, others apply this style to images and characters from the world of pop-culture. Whether it’s the portrait of a world champion boxer or the villain from a hit television show, black and gray realism is perfect for these contemporary tattoos.
3. Timepiece Black and Gray Tattoos
Clocks and timepieces are excellent subjects for tattoos, especially when using black and gray ink. The subtle elegance that can be created with this monochromatic approach is impressive and can give images and designs a classic appeal that is reminiscent of black and white photography or dramatic film noir.
The powerful symbolism attached to timepieces means that these tattoos can be used to commemorate numerous different feelings, although the transient nature of time is one of the more popular themes in these excellent black and gray tattoos.
4. Medieval Themed Black and Gray Tattoos
Fierce warriors and battlefields; knights in shining armor and damsels in distress. The variety of subjects and concepts that can be used in medieval themed tattoos provides a diverse pool of inspiration to draw from and a black and gray color scheme is perfectly suited for these dramatic tattoos.
The range of tones and subtle shading that is possible when using black and gray ink make it an excellent choice for these tattoos and helps to create compelling images that just wouldn’t have the same impact if applied in color. These pieces are great examples of the style and demonstrate what is possible with this subdued approach.
5. Animal Themed Black and Gray Tattoos
People have been fascinated with animals for millennia; it is no wonder that so many people choose to tattoo animals on their bodies these days. One growing trend in the tattoo world is commemorating the beloved pets that enrich our lives with moving designs applied on the body.
Other people choose to get tattoos of animals that they feel they share character traits with. What better way to tell the world that you are a fierce warrior than with a prominent tiger tattoo? While some people may prefer vibrant colors, the effect that is created with black and gray is more sophisticated and dramatic than color could ever achieve.
6. Lion Themed Black and Gray Tattoos
The animal kingdom provides a wide variety of subject matter for tattoos: from the vibrant plumage of macaws, to the shadowy lines of the panther, Mother Nature has it all. However, the undisputed king of animals remains the lion, and one of the best ways to capture this noble creature is with black and gray ink. The subtle details that can be produced with this approach is perfectly suited for the glorious mane and stern countenance of these powerful animals and these excellent pieces demonstrate just how successful lion tattoos can be in black and gray.
7. Eastern Themed Black and Gray Tattoos
People in the West have been fascinated by the East since the days of Marco Polo and the Silk Road. When it comes to tattoos, many Asian countries—most notably Japan—have a tradition of inking their bodies that pre-dates the West by thousands of years, and people continue to look East for tattoo inspiration.
From koi fish and dragons to samurai and foo dogs, Asian traditions provide a wide range of subject matter for designs, and while many of these styles use color the dramatic effect that can be achieved with black and gray ink is impressive, as these pieces demonstrate.
8. Unique Black and Gray Tattoos
At their heart, tattoos are a means of self-expression and a powerful tool for individuation. The best pieces can be proudly worn without worrying that you’ll pass someone with the same tattoo. The beauty of tattoos is that they can be personalized to suit a person’s attitudes and personality.
While some people prefer vibrant colors, for others a more subdued approach is better suited to their sensibilities. That is not to say that these pieces are boring. As these tattoos demonstrate unique and compelling designs can just as successfully be applied in black and gray as in color.
9. Black and Gray Tattoos Featuring Roses
Flowers are some of the most common elements in tattoos, and for good reason. These lovely natural expressions are deeply tied to a number of different human traditions: try to find a wedding anywhere in the world that doesn’t use flowers in some form or fashion. Of all the different flowers, in the West the rose may be the most powerful.
The deep associations with romance and fidelity make roses perfect additions to tattoos commemorating relationships, and by incorporating a rose with different elements—like skulls and daggers—a more complex significance can be produced. These excellent tattoos demonstrate just how successful roses can be, even without the use of color ink.
11. Chicano Black and Gray Tattoos
The Chicano tattoo style is characterized by smooth shading, fine lines, and an almost complete lack of color. It is believed that the Chicano tattoo tradition has its roots in the prisons of the United States and the lack of availability of color ink gave rise to this monochromatic approach.
Despite this storied past, Chicano tattoos have entered the mainstream thanks to the skilled artists and compelling nature of the designs. From payasas with pistols to the ubiquitous “Laugh now, cry later” theme, black and gray is the only choice for these exceptional tattoos.
12. Neo Classical Black and Gray Tattoos
From the stoic visages of the philosophers Plato and Socrates expertly carved into marble to dramatic scenes from myths and legends: black and gray ink is the best choice for these designs that draw inspiration from Classical Greece. The opportunity to recreate the smooth lines and subtle curves is answered by talented artists with an elegant approach using black and gray ink. These pieces demonstrate just how moving these neo-classical tattoos can be.
13. Religious Themed Black and Gray Tattoos
Tattoos are powerful tools for displaying important aspects of an individual’s life to the world, and for many people religion is the rock upon which their lives are built.
In many religions tattoos are expressly forbidden—Orthodox Judaism for example—while for many others there was more of an unspoken cultural ban that was enforced through social means. Still other religions use tattoos as part of their practices: most notably the Buddhist traditions of South East Asia where Sak Yant tattoos are actually applied by monks.
These tattoos come from the Western Christian tradition and feature scenes from Biblical stories: angels defeating demons, crucifixion and the Virgin Mary weeping. All of these dramatic images are perfectly applied in the subtle shading and fine lines of black and gray ink.
14. Black and Gray Skull Tattoos
Skulls are some of the most popular tattoos in the world for a few reasons. First of all, they look cool: there is something about these macabre images that we simply find fascinating. The depth of meaning that can be attributed to skulls is another reason they remain so popular.
Skulls are powerful symbols of our mortality and limited time on this earth, and an interesting juxtaposition is created when permanently marking our bodies with a symbol of impermanence. Skulls are also a great addition to designs for the way they can alter and enhance the meaning of other elements: a rose tattoo is often a symbol of romantic love. A rose surrounding a skull has a much different significance.
While skulls can be successful images using any tattoo approach, when applied in black and gray they take on a dramatic weight that is hard to beat. These excellent tattoos are great examples of how striking black and gray skulls can be.