Ah the great outdoors! A simple walk through the woods does wonders for the mind, body and soul. As Albert Einstein once spoke, “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”
With the world becoming more and more high-tech by the way, it’s easy to forget the natural world around us.
The truth is, gadgets and gizmos can never replicate the paradise we call mother earth. Not to mention, our connection with it, considering it’s literally where we get everything from in the first place.
Of course, one thing has always remained constant: The permanent memories nature creates. From the past to the present, it’s a good reason why mother earth inspired ink has reigned as one of the most popular styles among gentlemen.
Just take a moment to explore to the beauty and majestic appeal found in these top x best nature tattoo designs for men below. You might find yourself in wonder gazing at the great outdoors and all it has to offer! From camping themed ink ideas to moonlight illuminating the night sky filled with stars, there’s plenty to take in.
1. Small Nature Tattoos
This stylishly simple tat is a brilliant example of both dotwork and subtle geometry. Geometry doesn’t have to be obvious – the outline of this piece is geometric in nature without resembling an equation. The dotwork used here is brilliant, showcasing how the technique can be used to create sharp contrasts with just one simple shape and a bit of linework. Shading on the sides of the mountains and the upper portions of the trees illustrate just how dark – and therefore how versatile – dotwork can be.
If your love of nature can be expressed in a small tattoo, go for it! Nature tattoos which are small in nature are just as visually impressive as the big guys, often even more. They pack a big punch in a small package, which always catches the eye. Strategic use of dotwork, blackwork shading, color shading and other visually rich techniques allows small tattoos to leap off the skin.
Nature tattoos for couples are typically small, a symbol of a shared commitment between two people. These tattoos can go anywhere, but the ring fingers and hands are common placement options.
Whether you’re coupled or just seeking a smaller piece of ink, remember that “Go big or go home” doesn’t always apply. Plan a smaller tattoo with just as much attention to detail as you’d give a larger one and ensure that your tattoo artist does the same. When properly planned and inked, a small nature tattoo can be a gorgeous reminder of your favorite place – the outdoors!
2. Colorful Nature Tattoos
One of the most breathtaking watercolor tattoos we’ve seen in a while, this piece doesn’t look like watercolor technique as much as it does a watercolor painting. This is possible through the expert use of color, shading, sparing linework and more traditional artistic techniques like depth and shadow. Notice how nearly all the lines are slightly blurred, even the straight lines in the dock. Creating realism without crisp linework is a truly rare skill, and this artist has it in spades.
Nature contains all the colors of the rainbow – including rainbows themselves! A large portion of people with nature tattoos choose color ink for this reason. Color makes the landscapes or features they’ve chosen truly pop off the skin, paying homage to a favorite season, place or object in lifelike reality. Be sure to choose an artist who’s skilled in both the linework required and the color shading or saturation your design requires.
The elements of nature in tattoos are powerfully symbolic, and often enhanced by clever use of color. Earth, air, fire and water are just the beginning. In different belief systems and cultures, wood and metal are also included. Fire is commonly represented as a bonfire or campfire, while the applications for water in tattoos are virtually limitless – think of all the lakes, ponds, rivers, streams and oceans across the world! It’s easy to include all the elements in a single tattoo of a simple landscape but let your imagine run wild and feature the element that means the most to you.
All manner of techniques can be used in color tattoos. Classically realistic or neo-classical tattoos are truly stunning. However, a geometric nature tattoo does just as much to capture the eye. It modernizes the outdoors by showing that enjoying nature is not just something that our grandparents did.
3. Nature Tattoos Featuring Animals
Stunning, creative and eye-catching, this tattoo highlights just how powerful the animal kingdom can be. Everything is covered here, from sea creatures to insects to a majestic bear. Notice how crisp lines and expert blackwork take what could have been a confusing tattoo and make it fresh. If these animals were poorly placed or bled into each other, the creator’s vision would be ruined. Instead, skillful arrangement and workmanship resulted in a piece which pays proper tribute to the animal world.
Animals are arguably the most dynamic component of the great outdoors. Simultaneously adorable and – in some cases – deadly, these wild creatures have captured the imagination for millennia. Adding an animal to your nature tattoo or centering it around one is an exemplary way to honor the wildness which still surrounds us, whether it’s right outside your door or a three-hour drive away.
Different animals have varied meanings across cultures. If you feel that you have a spirit animal, you may choose to represent it in its natural habitat. An animal which represents a personal characteristic, like the “big dog” nature and bravery of a wolf, is also a perfect choice.
Give the more uncommon animals some love as well. The demure rabbit, for example, is a symbol of fertility (no surprise there) as well as love, contentment and vulnerability. Salmon, with what many consider a rather sad life cycle, are symbolic of happiness and rebirth. The badger – unlikely badass of the animal world – symbolizes organization and neatness in our outward and inner lives. The art of animal symbolism is deep and laced with surprises, so dig in and find the creature which speaks to you!
Remember that fine details like fur, feathers and fins are tricky and require skill. Take the time to find a tattoo artist with expertise in these areas to ensure that your nature tattoo looks ready to snarl or chirp its way right off your skin.
4. Large Nature Tattoos
This is one of our favorite pieces of nature-inspired blackwork for several reasons. We love the blend of techniques, as it shows just how much skill goes into quality blackwork. Secondly, it shows the visual impact of a large and well-executed tattoo. Using this man’s waistline as a natural “ground,” the artist has kept all elements of the tattoo in perfect proportion. Delicate technique – almost watercolor – has been used for the upper reaches of the trees, while the trunk and the deer are fully saturated.
The great outdoors is a truly vast place. Your local park might not seem like much, but if you’ve ever been off the grid, hiking through wilderness far from the reaches of cell phone service, you know the truly massive power of the outdoors. Few things can make you feel small like a vast area of untamed forest, river or desert.
Given the literal and figurative size of nature, it’s no wonder than many nature enthusiasts choose to devote huge portions of skin to this subject. Whether you choose a sleeve, back piece or torso artwork, the time and patience it takes will be well worth it in the end.
Remember that large pieces take more than one session to complete. Sketch out your design or have your artist do this after discussing how you’d like your finished piece to look. They will advise you on where the tattoo may work best, based on techniques used, shapes involved and other specific factors. Be ready for several longer visits, with appropriate healing time in between. You may not see your vision made reality for months. However, when it’s finally finished, you’ll have a one-of-a-kind statement piece that’s truly grand.
5. Blackwork Nature Tattoos
Bold, fierce and in-your-face, this piece is what blackwork is all about. Not only is it huge – highlighting the artist’s skillful use of proportion – but it features heavy shading and saturation. The subject matter is a heavy one, and a lighter touch may have taken away from the wolf’s intimidation factor. This tattoo makes him the clear lord of the forest and makes that forest just as dark as his glare. Note the difference in techniques, from the fully saturated edges to the light, realistic feathering of the wolf’s fur.
Blackwork is a lot like nature – it’s truly massive and encompasses a dizzying array of factors. Techniques which look nothing at all like each other – lets imagine Chicano and Geometry as examples – are still categorized as blackwork, as long as the lines, dots, slashes or what-have-you are rendered in black. Woodcut is a rather uncommon blackwork technique which mimics an artistic form of printmaking. Its rustic nature makes it a natural for nature-inspired ink.
Blackwork doesn’t have to all black, either. Confused yet? Don’t be – some of the most visually powerful tattoos we’ve ever seen were comprised of detailed blackwork with a pop of vibrant color to set everything off.
Blackwork is excellent for capturing the dark and slightly foreboding nature of the outdoors. While this doesn’t necessarily mean a dark and spooky forest on a stormy night, it definitely could! Capturing the outlines of trees, mountains, forest cabins and a million other objects in blackwork is truly a sight to behold. As always, check your tattoo artist’s portfolio to ensure that they are skilled in the particular type of blackwork you want.
6. Nature Tattoos Featuring Cabins & Tents
Yet another fine example of quality blackwork, this piece gives us cozy, nostalgic vibes. Notice how the artist used relief techniques – also called negative space – to create the bright moon and upper portions of the clouds. The same technique is used to create depth throughout the piece. It’s not quite watercolor, not quite photo-realistic, not quite anything, in fact, but a masterful blend of several techniques. It’s obvious that this tat depicts a cherished memory, and all we want to do is tend that fire with a faithful dog at our side.
While some purists may sneer at a man-made dwelling in the midst of unspoiled wilderness, we’re not pure here. If your memories of the wilderness are best captured in a cozy cabin or tent scene, go for it! Tattoos are among the most personalized things in the world, so forget what anybody else does or might think.
The symbolism of a small dwelling in the woods is rather beautiful. Instead of spoiling the wilderness, we see it as living alongside of and within it. The cabin or tent may represent many things, from a place to even a person, which make you feel safe. Few things are cozier or more reassuring than a warm, lighted spot in the midst of rain, wind, snow or whichever element might come. This spot offers comfort, security and a port in whatever storms may come your way.
In a more literal sense, this type of tattoo may represent beautiful memories of camping with family or friends. Whether it’s an overnight to your uncle’s hunting cabin or a week in the mountains with a group of friends, some of the best memories are made outdoors.
Nature Tattoo FAQs
What Do Trees Symbolize in Tattoo?
Nature tattoos often include trees, and with good reason – trees are found in nearly every natural landscape across the globe. In some cases, they’re simply part of the landscape. For many people, however, trees have very specific meanings.
In the Bible, trees play dual roles. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is where Eve got the apple – forbidden fruit. The Tree of Life, however, has more positive connotations. Christians are also advised to be like well-watered trees themselves, “bearing good fruit.”
In Judaism, a tree of souls dwells in the Garden of Eden. This produces new souls, which are then watched over by an angel until they become people.
Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, intertwines trees and sacred geometry, with the Tree of Life having ten points which correlate with the ten attributes of God.
Wicca, Druidism and many other pagan religions views trees as a blend of medicine, magic and fellowship. Some were revered as sacred, others valued for their medicinal or magical value, and others, when growing together, were seen as ideally spiritual spots for rituals.
Native American beliefs also hold trees in high regard. In addition to offering useful wood and medicine, they were seen as containing – like all natural objects – a spark of life given at creation by the Great Spirit.
In secular traditions, trees are enduringly popular. They offer a fresh start each spring, a sense of strength and permanence, and very specific traditional values. An olive branch symbolizes peace, and so do Japanese maples. Cedars are healing, while oaks represent courage. If you feel drawn to a particular tree, research it – you’ll be amazed at all you’ll learn!
What Do Mountains Symbolize in Tattoos?
Rising high above the surrounding landscape and visible for miles around, mountains are one of the largest natural formations on earth. We climb them, revere them and view them in awe – but what do they really mean in tattoos?
For many, a mountain symbolizes overcoming something difficult. You might consider a mountain tattoo as commemoration after beating cancer, for example, or after a set number of years of sobriety.
Across the globe, mountains are also significant to many different religions. Mount Kailash in China is believed to be where the Hindu god Shiva lives. In the Bible, Moses received and recorded the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai.
Looking for more tattoos featuring mountains, forests, and other bad ass examples of natural beauty? Click on the links below for more galleries: