19 Dark Tattoo Ideas to Inspire You

Are you thinking about getting a tattoo but want something outside of the conventional styles you’ve seen? These dark tattoo ideas might be perfect for you!

Dark tattoos can make great additions to your body with highly-pigmented black areas and intricate designs. Their bold nature is bound to catch attention! And you can also expect this beautiful piece of artwork to look great for years to come, as black ink doesn’t fade easily.

Here are some of the best dark tattoo ideas to put on your inspiration list!

A black and white photo of a tattoo artist working on a back shoulder canvas.

Realistic Dark Tattoo Ideas

1. Moonlight Window

This moonlight window tattoo features a beautiful cathedral-style window with stunning, bold, pigmented shadows. The artist does an amazing job balancing out the shadows with a stippled sky and a negative space crescent moon.

2. Edward Scissorhands

The artist for this tattoo took one of our favorite characters and gave him an almost sinister look. His shattered black heart, piercing white eyes, and insanely pigmented shading get your attention. The artist used negative space to their advantage, creating stunning highlights against the darkness.

3. Bird in the Flowers

This bird in the flowers has a slightly sinister feel to it as well. The white-eyed bird and flowers stand out beautifully against the dark background, with the bold outlines making them pop. Using tight stippling was a great idea for shading, creating a stunning and bold gradient in the background.

4. Vicious Tiger

A vicious tiger dark tattoo idea like this one is an attention-grabber with its unbelievably realistic look. The shading is intricate, allowing you to see almost every strand of fur on the tiger’s face. Its eye scar is a great touch, bringing in a more creepy vibe than just a plain tiger. It’s dark concept-wise and color-wise!

5. Dark Octopus

The dark octopus tattoo is another great dark tattoo idea example of how to use negative space correctly. It uses deep shading with highlights of the person’s skin showing through. The octopus looks alien-like with its detailed, veiny head and glowing suction cups, which create varying stages of depth.

6. Wolf Head

This wolf head dark tattoo idea combines varying tattooing techniques to create a beautiful texture. Deep shading, pigmented black areas, and stippling combine to make the negative space pop. You can see the fur very clearly.

Pattern-Based Dark Tattoo Ideas

7. Mandalas and Filigree

The mandala and filigree tattoo plays around with depth perception through shading, stippling, pigmented areas, and layering. It was smart to place the filigree on top of the mandala with shading underneath. Doing this creates a type of three-dimensional reveal of the artwork below.

8. Ink Waves

These ink waves have a beautiful simplicity to them. They stress movement with their varying twists and turns with an oil-looking consistency. The artist also incorporated some thinner lines, which create a sketch-like look, highlighting tattoos’ artistry.

9. White Flower Outlines

This white flower dark tattoo idea is truly stunning, creating what looks like an x-ray design. They used the negative space for the entire design, surrounded by a pigmented black background. Due to this technique, the flowers almost look like they’re glowing.

10. Dripping Dots

The tattoo artist for this dripping dots tattoo went all in, using varying sizes of circles and an ink-dripping effect. Its geometric design looks perfect and uses a beautiful dark gradient to aid in the melting or dripping effect.

11. Stippled Mandalas

This stippled mandala tattoo focuses mostly on stippling to create depth. Using dark shadows was a great idea to create another sense of depth. It almost makes each piece of the tattoo look stacked, making some parts almost jump off the canvas.

12. Eyeball Waves

The artist for this eyeball waves dark tattoo idea plays with illusions using varying swirling lines. It was such a great idea almost to morph the lines into eyelids. It makes the eyes blend in to create one cohesive piece.

Surrealistic Dark Tattoo Ideas

13. Wolf Skull

This wolf skull tattoo is reminiscent of a charcoal drawing with a smudged background and sketch-like lines. The charcoal-like style brings in a more creepy feel, which matches the visual of the skull and angry wolf.

14. Demon Dog

The demon dog dark tattoo idea focuses heavily on using black with gray highlights. This helps add to the sinister feeling of the demon dog, along with the ominous stippled tentacle shadows. The stippling was a great way to fill the space by mirroring the tentacles encasing the dog on the bottom.

15. Hidden Monster

This hidden monster is something out of a nightmare, in a good way! The artist used dark pigmentation to create an abyssal look, which helps with the fright factor. Using varying shading techniques to create a shredded look on the skin was also smart to help exacerbate the vibe.

16. Tentacle Face

The artist of this tentacle face tattoo utilizes negative space perfectly. Its surrounding tentacles are close to completely black, with the aura-like face creating a bright focal point. The unique shading also allows for hidden horrors like the skull-like face on the left side of the face. And the linework in the tentacles to show every vein and crease is truly mind-blowing.

17. Evil Dragon

This evil dragon dark tattoo idea is the epitome of intricate details. The cracks create an interesting texture, making it look like real dragon skin. And the artist utilized the negative space well, especially when using it to create that nasty string-like saliva. It was also a great idea to use dark shading around the eyes and nose to give a sunken, demon-like look.

Looking at this tattoo is like looking at a maze. The artist thought of every detail possible and provided hidden designs, such as the creepy scaly eyes inside the mouth.

18. Moon Witch

The moon witch tattoo focuses heavily on dark stippling, which helps with the mystical witch vibe. Its monster mouth heart was a nice touch with plenty of cracking details to create the reptile skin look. Utilizing the black ink inside the mouth like that was a great idea. It helps emulate a never-ending black hole and represents the witch’s dark, demon-like heart.

19. Dark Wolves

This dark wolves dark tattoo idea utilizes stippling and linework to create wave-like fur that’s almost mystical. Tight stippling in the background rather than saturated black helps create depth and an intriguing static look. Opting to keep the sun and moon free of ink was a great idea. It helps frame the tattoo with anchor points on the top and bottom.

Where Should You Place Your Dark Tattoo Idea?

Figuring out where to place your dark tattoo is essential to the look and feel you want to be portrayed. Some places accentuate dark tattoos better than others. With that in mind, consider placing it in any of the following places.



  • This is a large canvas area, allowing for more intricate details and large sections of saturated ink
  • The back can usually take saturated ink well as there aren’t many creases or shallow bones other than the spine
  • It’s easily coverable


  • Any tattoos on or near the spine can be quite painful
  • They take multiple sessions because of the size



  • You can see it every day if you want to, and it’s an easy spot to showcase
  • The curving of your arm could help with depth, helping to create a dark abyssal look in the background
  • This area usually isn’t too painful because the skin is a little thicker than other areas of your arm


  • It might look warped at certain angles due to movement
  • It’s a tough healing spot due to constant use



  • This is a huge statement area for dark tattoo ideas that will turn some heads
  • It’s a large canvas area, which is great for small details
  • The dark areas of the tattoo will pop from far away


  • It can be painful, especially where your sternum is
  • You can’t always show it off



  • Depending on your body, it’s usually a large canvas area
  • It’s less painful compared to other areas of the body due to thicker skin
  • The curving can help with depth relating to dark tattoo ideas


  • It can change appearance as you age due to loss of muscle mass
  • Unless you wear shorts all the time, you won’t be able to display your dark tattoo often


What is a dark tattoo?

A dark tattoo is a type of tattoo that focuses solely on using black ink. It uses dark saturated areas to create depth and an eye-catching appeal. They combine this with other techniques like shading, stippling, cross-hatching, and more to create dark shadows.

What is the dark tattoo style called?

The dark tattoo style is also known as black work. This is because it exclusively uses black ink and focuses on the heavy use of this ink color. In color psychology, black represents boldness, power, and mystery, among other things.

Do black tattoos last longer than color?

Yes, black tattoos typically last longer than color tattoos. This is due to the dark pigmentation, which takes longer to fade.

However, remember that the healing process is essential in how quickly your tattoo fades. Wash it multiple times a day to let it heal properly. Then use quality tattoo aftercare products to keep it moisturized until it heals completely. Incorrect healing can lead to desaturated color spots.

Wrapping Up Dark Tattoo Ideas

Dark tattoos are an excellent addition to your body as they are bold, beautiful, and typically intricately designed. So, get brainstorming and use these dark tattoo ideas as inspiration for your next piece of permanent body art!

Do you need more tattoo design ideas? Check out our Tattoo Ideas page for more inspiration!

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