Top 101 Roman Numeral Tattoo Ideas – [2020 Inspiration Guide]
Roman numeral tattoos are innately intelligent designs that reveal shrewdly attuned mentalities. These flawless adornments are truly in a league of their very own.
For a malleable dalliance in evolved sophistication, there is no way to compete with the triumphant zest of Roman numeral ink.
These polished letters offer the finest alternative to number-based designs. They are especially popular replacements for denoting specific dates. They look far classier than today’s current range of digits from zero to nine.
This prestige stems from a deeply stalwart background that has been bolstered by the annals of history.
In the context of Roman numeral tattoos, the following letters will be used: I, V, X, C, D and M. On their own, they range from one to a thousand. When portrayed in a collective sequence, any mathematic figure can be achieved.
One commonly overlooked arena for Roman numeral tattoos happens to be the celebration of a Super Bowl within the NFL. Football lovers can passionately commemorate their favorite game without even realizing that they are distinctly using the lavish sleekness of Roman numerals.
In the end, to revamp your outward demeanor, all it will take is one of the stunning Roman numeral tattoos that we have presented on this page!
1. Clock-Inspired Roman Numeral Tattoos
One of the few places Roman numerals are seen in real life these days is on timepieces, making the clock a natural backdrop for Roman numeral tattoos. Clocks and watches can be either plainly designed or highly detailed, ornamental fashion statements, so there is a richness or simplicity in design and application to suit your natural tattoo preference.
The theme of time is often hard to represent visually. A clock face can add dynamism to an image and bring to mind a focused theme and framework for the numerals that prevents them from simply floating in space. From a design standpoint, clocks are often presented with abundance of negative space surrounded by bold, dark numerals that make a profound contrast in light and dark.
Black and gray or color applications are equally valid, with styles ranging from American Traditional to realism and beyond. They fit naturally to positions like shoulder and chest, and are also successful components in sleeve designs. Quality artists are able to produce 3D designs playing off light and shadow. They also utilize forceful shading and clean line work for realistic clocks or more surreal images.
2. Roman Numeral Eye Tattoos
Perplexing as it may seem, the human eye is a common thematic element applied to Roman numeral tattoos. Often, they are matched stylistically to clock faces in parallel, creates a cool and dynamic piece of art both surreal and profound.
The key to this approach is mastering realist application, meaning your artist will need strong skills in shading and light sources achieve a realistic eye ringed by strongly inked Roman numerals. The design should have that sense of dampness in the eye itself. The is achieved by strongly contrasting dark shading and negative space to create the illusion of reflection.
A strong grasp of anatomy is key to getting a realistic image. The eye has subtle features – lash follicles, tear ducts, and in-eye capillaries. These are often overlooked by less skilled artists, but can transform a tattoo when applied skilfully.
One thing to avoid with this design is over heavy shading. Some eye tattoos can get too dark and ruin the overall effect, and create an illusion that the tattoo is part of a cover up.
3. Roman Numeral Date Tattoos
Dates are arguably the most popular use of Roman numerals in contemporary tattooing. They can be applied in delicate script or richly shaded bold digits that bring sophistication and a classical history to your tattoo’s depiction. Because dates can be small they are well-suited to placement on the body. Even the knuckles and palms of your hands can make an effective canvas for a date tattoo.
While many other designs suffer from natural restrictions such as body part size of the body part size or a lack of detail when scaled to a smaller piece, this is rarely a concern with Roman numeral date tattoos. Roman numeral dates scale well to fit any location without sacrificing clarity or image quality, and they can be designed in modest, unpretentious or equally useful when inked with complexity and detail.
With this application, clarity is the key to delivering a successful tattoo. Some script styles can be ostentatious and overworked, making your date hard to read. If you want the dates to be easily identifiable, simple clear application is often the best approach and makes for a much cleaner delivery. Wavering lines or blowouts on dates can ruin the whole piece in this style. Errors are almost impossible to fix without making the tattoo heavier and more complicated than it needs to be, so make sure your artist is skilled at precision line work.
4. Roman Numeral Armband Tattoos
Armband tattoos have been popular in a number of styles over the past two decades. Tribal and geometric patterns are those most often used, but the extended, ribbon-like nature of Roman numbers interlinked with a date or time can be easily adapted into an armband tattoo. The band can easily circle the bicep, wrist or forearm in an eye-catching and artistic manner.
The results can be very subtle and understated, or use a bolder design incorporating thicker, darker numerals if desired. An armband application is a good way to take what otherwise seems simple and limited and provide a second dimension. Your tattoo expresses meaning through content, but importantly the design and application as well.
5. Simple Roman Numeral Tattoos
Roman numerals are the perfect option for a simple and subtle tattoo rather than a larger, more ostentatious piece of body art. Unlike more graphic designs that suffer detail loss at smaller sizes, a simple Roman numeral tattoo is readable at any size provided it’s etched with craft and care. Your artist needs clean, straight lines and a steady hand to produce a high-quality, professionally delivered Roman numeral tattoo devoid of artistic flourishes. These small, simple tattoo versions can be scaled up to cover a whole arm, leg, or even your spine with the same cleanly applied, easy to read style.
A simple Roman numeral tattoo is most effective when unencumbered and cleanly depicted. There’s no need for bells and whistles, 3D elements, or additional shading and imagery, just crisp, solid black text as large or as small as needed to fit the space desired.
6. Roman Numeral Collarbone Tattoos
The collarbone is not ideally suited for many tattoo designs because of it’s shape, size and awkward fit for traditional ink on your body. A Roman numeral design however, is well-suited to follow your collarbone, as the linear nature of most designs can utilize the collar as an organic guide.
When the tattoo follows the flow of the collar it looks fluid and effortless, creating a natural symmetry with the body . This location lends itself best to a delicate, more elegant flowing script tattoo or thin bordered block-type lettering. Anything thicker risks looking like shoulder pads or medals of some kind.
7. Roman Numeral Rib Tattoos
For many of us, a rib tattoo is not the first choice. The ribs are a notoriously difficult location to tattoo, and also very painful. The shape is not ideal, as the layout of bone beneath the flesh can make running straight lines a challenge for artists. It’s one of the most sensitive spots on which to get tattooed, so if your pain tolerance is low for a tattoo on the fleshy part of the arm or leg, a rib tattoo may be intolerable.
If you are looking to take the plunge and get a rib tattoo, Roman numerals may be the best choice you can make. The small, simple design makes it comparatively easier for an artist to etch clean lines in the difficult location, under greater control. Additionally, it will be less painful as the relatively simple lines are easy to apply and avoid complications to successfully complete the design.
8. Unique Roman Numeral Tattoos
If you want to get a Roman numeral tattoo but don’t want it to be too plain, a unique design can be applied adding dimension and artistic flair to the overall appearance. A unique design can play with not just the location of the tattoo, such as on the fingers and hands, but also the shape and technical application. Additional or stylized symbols could be used, the numerals can be applied with unique shaping or patterns, to create an image that is at once simple yet interesting enough to stand out from a basic application of lettered numbers.
9. Surreal Roman Numeral Tattoos
One of the most visually impressive uses of Roman numerals in tattoo involves including them as an element of a purely artistic, reality defying larger piece. These surreal Roman numeral tattoos tell a story that weaves times and dates into it through the use of numerals, while maintaining a visually enigmatic context.
A well applied, surreal tattoo design can work with bold color, or black and gray application. Solid shading and linework, and a skilled use of negative space can draw the eye across the entire image. The end result is often a compelling, mysterious tattoo.
10. Graphic Roman Numeral Tattoos
Roman numeral tattoos can often be limited in scope and artistic depth when compared to other popular subject matters, such as portraiture or illustrative tattoos. There’s only so much an artist can do with X’s , I’s and V’s, after all.
Including Roman Numerals as part of a larger image can make for rich, compelling application that can be incorporated into any style of tattoo, from American Traditional to New Wave, bio mechanical, or even tribal. A skilled artist should have little trouble including a meaningful date or other Roman numerals into any design you choose. You aren’t limited to feeling that you can only include numerals, and instead incorporate them as meaningful elements of a larger piece reflecting your personality and taste.
11. Roman Numeral Sleeve Tattoos
From a design standpoint, a full sleeve or half sleeve Roman numeral tattoo can be considered a fantastically unique visual application. Full sleeves tattoos are often highly detailed, and the incorporation of Roman numerals adds a different dynamic to the whole piece.
These designs allow for the numerals either be the focal point of the tattoo, or an accent to a larger work, making Roman numerals an appealing, innovative choice. There’s no wrong way to make use of them in your tattoo design. Choosing a full sleeve allows you and your artist to play with thematic elements and application techniques in any variety of ways, to get precisely the kind of large scale tattoo you want.
3D Roman Numeral Tattoos
A solid 3D Roman numeral tattoo can be very impressive if done correctly. Your artist is going to need to be a master of shading, and understand proper light sources and negative space to make these designs pop. When done correctly, the effect allows the numerals to rise off the flesh, or even sink further into it.
The best artists understand geometry when making these pieces. How a shape needs to be scaled, use of shading, and even blurring, make the right parts of the tattoo standout. Other parts are relegated to the background in order to give the realistic illusion you desire.
Roman Numeral Tattoo FAQs
What do Roman numerals mean in tattoos?
Roman numerals are often used in tattoos to represent important dates and times. While standard numbers could do the job, Roman numerals with their mix of sharp, clean lines and angles (most often represented by the letters “V” “X” “M” “L” and “I” make it much more stylized, streamlined and elegant than the numbers we typically use. They are balanced and complimentary in both size and shape when grouped together. Roman numerals also offer up a more sophisticated and refined appearance than the standard set of 0 to 9 digits. Because there are only 7 digits used and ones like “C” representing 100 and “D” representing 500 are often rare, the number combinations can be very streamlined and create visually appealing patterns.
Symbols are popular in many tattoo designs, and Roman numerals offer an ancient, runic quality that can elevate a design to a higher standard. For many, this gives weight to significant dates like birthdays, or those in which loved ones have died, by commemorating them in a more ancient, stoic fashion.
Roman numerals don’t have a hard and fast set of rules governing their usage either, although there is a commonly accepted usage. For instance, most of us understand “IV” to be “4,” there is also precedent for the use of “IIII” to stand in for the number as well. The Colosseum in Rome uses the “IIII” formation to indicate the number “4.” This allows for greater latitude in deciding how your tattoo is going to look – the design can accommodate either method to make a more symbolic pattern.
Because date tattoos often contain heavy personal significance, Roman numeral tattoos are deeply meaningful to those that wear them.
How much is a Roman numeral tattoo?
It’s hard to put a price on any tattoo until the design is finalized because the price is going to change based on the shop and the artist, not to mention the style and size of the finished piece. If you get a high-profile artist to do your ink, then you’re looking at over $1,000 for even a simple date in Roman numerals, and that will probably be after waiting some months on a list to get an opportunity.
Let’s say you’re looking at hiring your local artist who does good work at reasonable rates. A simple Roman numeral tattoo is probably going to run anywhere from $50 to $100 for even the smallest of applications. Many shops often charge a minimum for any work no matter how fast and simple, so even a very basic Roman numeral tattoo will fall in that range. The more you add on, the more you can expect to pay.
If you’re looking for a larger piece like a watch with Roman numerals, or something with color, then you may have a few hundred dollars on the line. The overall complexity of the design will dictate the price as well as the average rates for the shop and skill of your artist. Remember, a full sleeve featuring Roman numerals will probably have numerous other design elements that are taking up the bulk of the artist’s time and accounting for your final fee.
If your desire is for a simple Roman numeral tattoo, it may be in your best interests to forgo a high profile and higher priced artist in favor of a competent artist at a better value who charges less. Being less artistically demanding, there’s no real need to put yourself out to still get a high quality tattoo that meets your needs, and will come with a more modest price tag well worth the time and effort put into it.
What are the most popular placements for Roman numeral tattoos?
The placement of a Roman numeral tattoo can be dynamic when compared to other styles and subject matter. Armbands are extremely popular because they’re small and simple, and the uniform height of the numerals make them a natural fit. Likewise, placements on the chest and shoulder are often used and even across the knuckles if you’re feeling bold.
The collarbone makes a natural guide for a date formed by Roman numerals, as it’s like a natural ruler on which to place this type of design. The ribs are also a favorite spot for some because, while challenging for more complex designs, this part of the anatomy adapts well to the simpler demands of Roman numerals. The result is you can get a clean tattoo with little discomfort on the ribs compared to more complicated designs.
Aside from simple dates, you’ll also see a lot of Roman numerals featured in watches and clocks that have been incorporated into larger tattoo designs. The round face of a clock is a natural fit for the shoulder and also the chest. It moves with the natural flow of the muscle under the skin in a way that is elegant and natural. These designs can also be very easily applied on the back of the calf or the shoulder blade. A skilled artist could make a design flow properly with any part of your body, however.
For those in the market for larger tattoos, a half sleeve or full sleeve tattoo can make great use of them in a standout design. The numbers can run from shoulder to wrist, they can be applied in armbands, or they can wind down the length of an arm.
Full back and chest pieces can also make extensive use of Roman numerals. The incorporation of dates in such large tattoos adds layered meaning and can be applied with a strong degree of versatility as they can be sized to fit in any portion of the total piece.
For more Roman tattoo images click on the galleries below and get the inspiration you need for your next piece of body art.