Three sessions and nine hours: It’s the average amount of time to complete a man’s half sleeve tattoo. In comparison, a full sleeve can take upwards of 15 to 30 hours to finish.
Make no mistake. A half sleeve can look just as good as a full sleeve if not better.
Some men argue that these look unfinished, but the truth of the matter is they can look like masterpieces.
Even if you’re not quite ready to go all-in and lay ink down from your shoulder to your wrist, there’s nothing to worry about.
Understand that a half sleeve can be quite handy in terms of concealment. If you’re not in a creative workplace environment, you might run into unwanted artwork stigma when co-workers, clients, and even your boss glance down at your forearms.
Now, if you’re wondering what makes the half sleeve different, I’ll tell you: Instead of running down the forearm and wrist, half sleeves stop at the elbow or just slightly below it.
Let’s take a closer look at the different types of sleeve tattoos you can choose from before we get into our amazing tattoo design ideas.
Types of Sleeve Tattoos
- Quarter. This tattoo covers the area from the top of your shoulder midway to your elbow
- Half. This tattoo extends from the top of your shoulder to your elbow
- Full sleeve. This tattoo will reach further. It goes from the top shoulder area all the way down to your wrist
Along with these three more common sleeve tattoos for men, you can also find the Hikae. This is a Japanese tattoo. These amazing sleeve tattoos cover the chest area and then extend to the elbow or the wrist.
Planning a Sleeve Tattoo
One of the more difficult parts of the tattoo process is the planning phase before getting the tattoo inked. You have to decide on the theme of the tattoo, the design, and the type. A sleeve tattoo is one of the more elaborate art forms and involves much more detail.
Find the Tattoo Artist
First, you want to shop around for tattoo artists. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is designing the tattoo before actually finding the tattoo artist that is going to do it. The design is not going to be the same because each tattoo artist has their own style and their own way of doing things.
Consider Different Styles
Next, you will want to consider different styles. Some styles include tribal, new school, traditional, Japanese, and more. You may even find that the tattoo artist you are interested in actually specializes in one or more of these styles.
Play Around with Themes
Now you can decide on the theme for the sleeve tattoo. Some people choose a scene from their favorite movie while others want to display something they are passionate about. The tattoo you choose may also represent something like love, death, or dreams. There are so many different ways you can go in the search for inspiration.
Symbols are also a great way to add meaning to the tattoo after you have chosen your theme, the style, and the message you want to convey.
Decide on Color and Placement
Many love the look of a simple black ink sleeve tattoo designs while others want the bold pops of color and make the choice to get colorful half sleeve tattoos instead of the black ink. This is entirely up to you and what you prefer.
Finally, placement. You will want to consider your pain tolerance when it comes to the placement of your amazing sleeve tattoo. For those with a lower pain tolerance, you want to avoid the armpits and elbows when getting tattooed.
Half Sleeve Tattoo FAQ
How long does it take to get a half sleeve tattoo?
As mentioned above, a half sleeve tattoo can take nine hours over three sessions to complete. However, this also depends on how elaborate the design is and how long it takes for your body to heal in between each session.
How often can you go in for a tattooing session?
Typically, you will have around two weeks between each tattoo session when you are getting your half sleeve done. But again, this also depends on how long it takes your body to heal between those sessions, so it might be scheduled every three weeks. It all depends on your body and what the tattoo shop is suggesting.
What kind of pain tolerance should you have for a half sleeve tattoo?
Since half sleeves require hours of being under the needle, you will want to have a slightly higher pain tolerance. You also have to remember that you have to endure this over multiple sessions. Your arm will go numb for a while. The most pain is going to be felt around your elbow and the armpit area.
How much does a half sleeve tattoo typically cost?
The average price for half sleeve tattoos for men are around $1,500. However, this number and other tattoo prices can vary greatly depending on the shop, the artist, the detail of the tattoo, and other factors.
What is the process when getting a half sleeve tattoo?
Once you have decided on a sleeve design, the tattoo artist will then measure your arm to scale that design, so it is proportionate. The outline is sketched during the first session, and the shading and details will be done over the next two sessions. The last sessions will involve coloring and any finishing touches that need to be done.
What are some of the aftercare instructions?
After your session, keep the bandage in place for several hours. You can then remove the bandage and wash the area with antibacterial soap and then gently pat the skin dry. Let the tattoo and skin air out for at least ten minutes and then apply a thin layer of lotion. You want to wash and moisturize the area up to three times each day until you see that the skin has finished peeling. This process can take up to three weeks.
Can you get a half sleeve tattoo for men removed?
Laser tattoo removal treatment is a way you can remove a tattoo you no longer want. Remember, tattoo removal can be both costly and painful and can take a while because of the size of the half sleeve tattoo.
Now, without further ado, to help you get masculine tattoo ideas and manly inspiration flowing, I’ve put together a collection of 60 half sleeve tattoos for men. Below you will find several inspiring tattoo ideas for men with designs that fit more than one tattoo style.