The Beauty of Watercolour Tattoos


Watercolour art medium, also know as Aquarelle in French, is a style of painting that is extremely old, dating perhaps to the cave paintings of Paleolithic Europe and found in Egyptian manuscripts.


The watercolour tattoo form is a recent trend in our culture that has captured the admiration of seasoned inkers and newbies alike. Watercolour tattoos are usually translucent, and appear luminous because the pigments are laid down in a pure form without any black outlines and only with a few fillers obscuring the pigment colours. Watercolours can also be made opaque by adding white splashes. They celebrate a graduation of different shades of the same pigment colour and allows the blends to bleed into one another, much like a watercolour painting.

Art by Alan

Bright, vivid pops of colours are the standard trademark in watercolour design. Black ink is rarely incorporated into these designs, and if it is, it’s never used to frame the piece. Actually, watercolours tend not to feature any kind of framing or outlining at all. They’re flowing, evocative depictions of the subject, which is usually nature-related or a representation of an abstract concept.


Art by Lorena

As with every other tattooing style, watercolours are simply a transference of a piece of art from one medium to another. Tattoo artists reproduce what they see on the page, either from a piece brought in by their client or from a design they have drawn themselves, to the skin. Naturally, to do this effectively, a tattoo artist must be skilled in creating watercolours on paper first.


Art by Tito

Now, you might be skeptical of the watercolour’s permanence. However, you can put those fears to rest because despite their whimsical appearance, watercolours are resilient. They’re created using the same tools, inks and techniques as traditional tattoos; and despite the appearance of faded lines and splattering, these effects are still created using elements and techniques applied to solid colouring, just like a traditional tattoo. Adjusting colour saturation levels and a subtler touch in shading creates the illusion of splattering and bleeding.

Watercolours do tend to require a little more care than traditional tattoos though, so if you’re thinking of getting one, keep in mind that regular touch ups are encouraged. That said, that extra little bit of effort is well-worth the result.

At Black Line Studio, we have experts in watercolour tattooing. If you are interested, call us for a consult (416) 850-8227.