There’s nothing discreet about a bad tattoo. Sure, the concept of white ink sounds foolproof, however, the real world application often leaves artwork looking awful. Though, when done the right way, white ink takes tattoos to a whole new level.
One of the entrants in the 50+ best tattoo ideas comes via the use of white ink.
A lot of men request it only to be met with an occasion refusal from their tattoo artist, and for a good reason.
What starts out as a pure, solid white eventually blends into the skin making any outlines look rather off-putting and oddly confusing. Is it a scar or a tattoo? In comparison, black ink is ultra heavy, opaque and strong enough to stand out; aka the point of getting a tattoo in the first place.
Though, white ink does lend some really great benefits when done the right way, by the right artist:
You can opt for white ink when you are going to a scar-like effect (though, this doesn’t always need to be the case). The larger and more complex the line work is, the more visible and better it will stand out. Over time, fresh white ink will turn from a chalky color to a subtle, variation of your skin tone hue.
Using white next to bolder colors like blue, purple, red and so on, will significantly help it become more apparent to the eyes. You can also outline a previous black tattoo with white to bring it back to life again.
Of course, one of the best ways to take advantage of white ink is to use it in everything from shading to highlights.
With that said, I’m going to show you exactly how using white in your next tattoo can look more than just good, but great! Go ahead and explore these top 100 best white ink tattoos for men below and you’ll get a better idea of what talented artistry looks like.
Within these designs you’ll find everything from line work to shading, and more for acquiring plenty of ideas. Just remember, it’s a tricky color to work with, so plan carefully and choose your artist wisely as always.
Here is a good example of a white ink tattoo that illustrates several aspects of this style. While the design is interesting and the line work is clean and precise, the difficulties of tattooing white ink are apparent. There are several places where the ink is blotchy and not fully saturated, most likely due to the fact that white ink needs to be packed very tightly in order to show up properly. The wearer may have tapped out due to the pain, with plans to come back for another session to reinforce this design with more passes of the needle. It is also worth noting, that this ink will fade fast and in a few years this design will probably fade back into the wearer’s pale skin tone and only be slightly visible.
This is a piece that uses white ink much more effectively by utilizing a solid black background for the geometric designs. The black ink is fully saturated, creating a dramatic backdrop and allowing the white ink to stand out, solving the issues of fading. The line work in the geometric patterns is clean and precise and the overall composition is interesting: the large swath of black moving diagonally across the bicep breaks up the pattern and keeps this piece from feeling repetitive, despite the fact that it is just a recurring geometric pattern.
This is another example of how a black backdrop can help eliminate some of the more troublesome aspects of white ink tattoos. Here, the artist uses motifs from the natural world like moths, flowers and leaves, to create a bold design that makes great use of white ink to help these elements pop. The solid black backdrop is fully saturated creating a perfect canvas to apply the white ink and increases contrast to an extreme level. The way the geometric pattern above the elbow is incorporated into the design by gently fading into the solid black works well and keeps this large, bold piece from feeling out of place.
This tattoo is a great example of how people often use white ink. For some, white ink can be used to create the effect of scarification thanks to the way the pale ink eventually fades and blends into the wearer’s natural skin tone. It’s true, this is not ideal for every situation, however, if this is the aesthetic the wearer is trying to achieve, white ink is perfect. Here, the artist used white ink and expert application to create this Chinese character on the wearer’s bicep, perfectly recreating the look of scarred skin without the need for more extreme scarification methods. While this style is not for everyone, this tattoo is a good example of the way white ink can be effectively used for certain tattoos.
Here is another example of another way that white ink can improve tattoos designs. In this piece, the artist uses shades of blue to create a diamond with black ink and gray wash creating a backdrop that allows this piece to stand out on the wearer’s pale skin tone. The artist also accurately captures the facets and refracting light in the cut gem without the use of black line work by utilizing white ink to create highlights. The design is well thought out and the artist’s skill and meticulousness are on full display: notice the balanced patterns in the shape of the gem, as well as the way the light is depicted radiating from the bottom of the diamond, accurately recreating the angles of light refracting from within the stone.
This full-sleeve effectively uses white ink to create a striking tattoo. The black is fully saturated, making for a great, solid background for the geometric patterns. The complexity of the designs is quite remarkable, incorporating several recurring patterns as well using one-off designs to create a tattoo that evokes patterns carved in stone. The line work is balanced and precise and the use of large swaths of black on the elbow and back of the arm adds contrast and helps the white line patterns to stand out. This impressive tattoo is a testament to the artist’s skill as well as the wearer’s dedication.
The piece incorporates several styles and techniques to create a one of a kind tattoo. One interesting aspect of this design is the way the similar mandala patterns are applied on the arm, one using negative space and stipple shading to create the design with the other using fully saturated black ink and white lines. The design achieves a sort of positive/negative mirrored effect that evokes images of the negatives of photographs. The level of detail in this piece is impressive: the precise stipple shading to create the mandala is well applied and adds depth to this portion of the design that improves the overall aesthetic. While not for everyone, this tattoo demonstrates how white ink can be successfully utilized.
This is an incredible half-sleeve design that incorporates white ink to create a stunning tattoo. The use of saturated black as the backdrop along with blues and gray to create a pleasing gradation of tones is excellent. Here, white ink is only used for the brightest of highlights giving the impression that the tetrahedron on the back of the forearm is actually glowing. The line work is consistent and precise, using sharp angles to create the honeycomb patterns that make up the background of this tattoo which contrasts, both in shape and color, with the spiral design on the back of the hand. This is a one of a kind tattoo that is sure to turn heads.
This tattoo is a great example of how white ink can be incorporated into, and improve existing black ink designs. Here, the upper arm is almost completely blacked out with well saturated black ink, more than likely covering up some regrettable previous work. There are not a lot of options for a tattoo like this: the black is so solid that only white ink will really show up on the skin. Using white ink, the artist creates intricate geometric patterns that highlight the natural lines of the body and are layered to give this tattoo additional depth. Thanks to a highly skilled artist, this blacked-out half-sleeve—which would surely inspire speculation to what was beneath it—is now a stunning new tattoo which no one would suspect is a cover-up.
This is another example of how white ink can be incorporated into black and gray designs to add another layer to a tattoo. Here, the artist uses excellent black and gray shading to create the skeleton and its cloak: notice how smooth and accurate the shading is on the folds of cloth. Instead of strictly using negative space for highlights, as is common in similar designs, the artist uses white ink to make these sections pop, creating an effect that gives the tattoo an almost three-dimensional feel. This is a classic design and, thanks to the bold placement and a clever artist, will turn heads for a long time to come.
This is an incredible piece that highlights the tattooer’s artistic skill. To create a photorealistic tattoo in black and gray is difficult; to achieve this in full color is on another level. The details in the spacesuit, as well as the thoughtful and realistic shading that creates shadows on the figure are excellent. Despite the obvious skill necessary to apply this tattoo, whether it will stand the test of time is another thing altogether. The large areas of white ink may fade, especially given the pale tone of the wearer’s skin, leaving a washed remnant of what was a great piece. We will just have to wait and see.
This is a great design that effectively uses white ink to create a one of a kind piece. The watercolor portion of the tattoo, above the skeleton couple, is expertly applied; perfectly recreating this effect and the way the colors run down, over the umbrella is a clever artistic choice. The limited use of white ink in the skeletons and lightning is enhanced by the way the artist uses darker tones to create a backdrop, allowing the whites to pop and limiting the risk that they will fade over time. This tattoo is interesting not only for its unique concept and composition but also for the excellent application.
Once again we have a tattoo that uses limited white ink to excellent effect. In this full-color piece, the artist uses an interesting palette in the way that the reds and blues contrast so strongly. It is worth noting that the faces of the warrior women appear to be existing work, with the addition of the colored auras, crossed arrows and compass rose being added later. However, this is a great example of how existing work can be improved through the use of color as well as white ink. The highlights on the edges of the stone arrowheads are exceptional, and demonstrate the best way that white ink can be utilized: while negative space is often effectively used for highlights, white ink takes these accents to another level and really makes them pop.
White Tattoo FAQ’s
Are white tattoos more expensive?
White tattoos are often more expensive than black ink pieces for a few reasons. One is that the ink used in these tattoos can be more expensive than other colors. Another reason white ink designs can be more expensive they can be more difficult and time-consuming to apply effectively so artists charge more to compensate for the added time and skill required. As usual, the size and complexity of the design, as well as the skill and availability of the artist, are all incorporated into the price of a tattoo.
Are white tattoos a good idea?
Tattoos are extremely personal and before anyone gets a tattoo thought should go into the permanence of this unique art. That being said, white tattoos pose special challenges that other ink does not. The point of a tattoo is to be seen, and white ink is notorious for blending into paler skin tones, often fading to nothing thanks to daily exposure to UV light. This is not to say that getting a white ink tattoo is a bad idea; these tattoos just require a bit more forethought and understanding of how ink settles and fades than other more common tattoo designs.
Do white tattoos hurt more?
Tattooing white ink doesn’t inherently hurt more, however, thanks to their light tones, these tattoos require more passes of the needle before they become visible. This means that in order to effectively apply a white ink tattoo, the artist will have to follow the same line several times, which will hurt more since the needle is passing over skin that is already irritated.