Top 41 Dragon Tattoo Ideas [2020 Inspiration Guide]
Nothing is more devilishly handsome than a dragon tattoo that lasts a lifetime. These mythical creatures are ideal choices for body art, and their charm is captivatingly masculine.
These magnificent mythical monsters have been depicted by various cultures throughout time, so there is a lot of source material available for deriving and driving inspiration.
You can look at ancient Chinese depictions for a surefire start, but don’t hesitate to dabble in some modern anime styles as well!
Their grandly winding contours enable extreme customization, which is typically unprecedented with inked representations of non-abstract beings. Dragons are more suitable for tattoos than most other life-forms, being part of the 50+ best tattoo ideas list for 2020.
Inked dragons are also economically convenient, particularly because they can be acquired through multiple sessions. While other huge projects will need to be finished all at once, the flying dinosaur mystique actually benefits from a gradual layering process. The black-and-white contour should be applied first, but then you can pick which order looks best with the remaining color progression.
This kind of body art is truly a cunning creature comfort. Ultimately, dragons have the potential to be extraordinarily ornate and flawlessly captivating. It is impossible for any two finished pieces to be alike, so macho originality is boldly enshrined for eternity.
These winged gods are highly fortuitous, and they will foment any lasting legacy of proud preeminence. With this type of virtuously ferocious accompaniment, you can summon a self-possessed confidence that eclipses all other fashions. Take a look at these deadly dragon tattoos for men to see what I’m talking about!
This is a great example of a Japanese inspired dragon that uses black and gray ink to create a vivid tattoo. The shading in this tattoo is excellent, perfectly capturing the varying textures on the different portions of the tattoo and the use of negative space to create highlights is expertly applied. This piece also stands out for the bold, even and precise line work: notice the consistency in the scales on the back of the dragon and the bold lines that are used in the horns of the creature. While some prefer bright colors for dragon pieces, this tattoo shows how a well-planned composition and expert application can create a stunning design without the need for vibrant colors.
Here is another example of a dragon that uses the traditional Japanese tattoo placements of “munewari” and “nagasode” (the chest piece with a space in the center and full sleeves, respectively). In this piece the artist used a limited color palette with the majority of the dragon being completed with black and gray, allowing the red in the belly and yellow in the eyes to really pop. The shading in this piece is exceptional, as demonstrated by the gradation in tone in the face as well as in the clouds that make up the backdrop for this excellent design. Finally, the line work that forms the outline and defines the small details in this piece is even and consistent, completing this fearsome dragon tattoo.
While not technically a dragon, Chinese “foo dogs” are mythical lions that protect entrance ways and are depicted with fierce grimaces and bared teeth. This is an impressive tattoo that uses black and gray ink to create the beast while vibrant colors are used for the backdrop of a traditional Chinese home. The shading used to capture the musculature of the arms of the creature is excellent and the line work in the face and hair is bold and adds definition to the small details in the piece. The use of color in the background adds a lovely contrast to this piece that, while unconventional, works perfectly in this design and helps it to stand out from other similar tattoos.
Here is a design that takes a dragon used in Japanese tattoo work and gives it a black and gray, Western makeover. The lack of color in this piece is made up for with excellent gray wash shading, utilizing a broad spectrum of tones to add contrast and depth to this snarling dragon. The use of negative space and white ink for the highlights helps this piece to pop, while the consistent and precise line work help to define this highly detailed tattoo. This full-back piece is a testament not only to the artist forethought and skill but to the wearer’s dedication to body art.
This is another design that incorporates elements of Japanese and Chinese dragons to create a one of a kind, full-back piece. Most noticeable in this black and gray tattoo is the excellent line work that helps define this intricate piece and keep it from feeling cluttered or indistinct. The black in the darkest scales is fully saturated which helps to increase contrast and, in cooperation with clean and precise line work, further defines this stunning design. Finally, the incorporation of delicate bamboo stalks and leaves into the background of the design adds a layer of depth that demonstrates the time and skill that went into this exceptional tattoo.
This tattoo utilizes bright colors and an interesting placement on the inside bicep to create a unique and rather striking piece. The design—which looks to be inspired by the dragon Smaug, in J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic book, The Hobbit— uses detailed scales and a reptilian eye to create a menacing countenance that leaves no question that this is the eye of a dragon. The use of white ink for the highlights on the scales perfectly captures the irregular texture of the dragon’s skin, while the drab color scheme allows the vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows in the eye to pop. The white ink used for the highlights of the eye also expertly recreates the transparent “spectacle” that covers reptilian eyes, helping to complete this epic, color tattoo.
Here is another tattoo that eschews vibrant colors in favor of black and gray tones to create this excellent rib piece. The expert application and attention to detail are what set this piece apart: notice the individual strands of hair coming from the head of the dragon and moving into the wearer’s armpit. The smooth gradation of tones and the way they blend seamlessly from saturated black all the way to negative space is exceptional and a testament to the artist’s mastery of the technique. The level of detail in the face is remarkable; every line is deliberate and precise, creating the definition that takes this tattoo to the next level. Finally, the incorporation of negative space for wisp-like patterns is an interesting way to increase contrast and further ensures this is a one of a kind tattoo.
This bold, black dragon tattoo uses a limited color palette to create a striking back piece. The asymmetric placement of the tattoo creates an interesting composition using a standalone dragon that could easily be added onto or incorporated into a larger design further down the road. The artist uses fully saturated black along with negative space highlights and sepia tones to capture the scales of the coiling dragon and increase contrast. The use of red in the eyes adds a hint of color and completes this fierce, Japanese inspired dragon tattoo.
Here is a design that takes inspiration from Southeast Asian mythology and uses a Cambodian “naga” as its subject matter. Naga are mystical serpent creatures in Hindu and Buddhist traditions, characterized by their distinct head and associated with water as well as with rites of passage. This artist uses excellent black and gray shading to create a unique texture on the scales that looks as if you could reach out and touch the dragon’s coarse flesh. The coils of the body are used to create an interesting composition while small waves and whorls are created with gray wash and add to the depth and intricacy of this stunning, full-back tattoo.
Here, the artist takes a photo-realistic, black and gray approach to this dragon, which looks to be inspired by traditional European stories of these mythical beasts. This design lacks the long whiskers of Asian dragons, instead opting for a crocodilian-inspired head with horns and spurs to create a fearsome creature. The black and gray shading is excellent and perfectly captures the gnarled scales of the dragon’s face, while the fully saturated black ink in the mouth contrasts well with the white in the highlights of the teeth and face. The bold placement on the forearm ensures everyone will appreciate this menacing beast for a long time to come.
Dragon Tattoo FAQ’s
What does a tattoo of a dragon mean?
Dragons have long been some of the best subject matter for tattoos, and it is no wonder since these mythical creatures show up in the stories and legends of almost every group of people around the globe. From China and Japan to England and even ancient Mexico, these magic reptiles hold a wide assortment of meanings as varied and diverse as the different cultures themselves. The dragons of China, for example, are considered noble creatures that offer their wisdom protection to people, while the dragons in European folklore are often dangerous beasts that hoard gold, steal livestock and terrorize villages.
Despite the disparate meanings that dragons hold in different parts of the world, all cultures associate them with mythical power and unparalleled freedom to roam as they please. In the world of tattoos, the significance of these mythical beasts is up to the individual: depending on the style of the dragon, the broader composition of the tattoo and the artistic technique used, any number of meanings can be attributed to a dragon. There really is a dragon for every occasion.
How much are dragon tattoos?
When getting a tattoo the price should never be the most important factor, but we’d be kidding ourselves if we said money wasn’t an issue. When it comes to dragon tattoos, the prices are the same as for any other design, and hourly rates for professional shops are usually between $50 and $300 USD per hour, depending on a number of factors, including the location, the shop and the artist’s popularity and availability.
It should also be mentioned that some people may prefer to get their Japanese dragon applied using the traditional tattoo method known as “tebori” which will cost more as you are not only paying for the design you are receiving, but also for the years of dedication it took the “Horishi” to master the art. While this ancient technique is not everyone’s cup of tea, some prefer the traditional method to complete their dragon tattoo experience.