What is a Realism Tattoo? Learn All About This Popular Tattoo Style

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A realism tattoo is a type of tattoo art which focuses on creating detailed, life-like representations of objects, people, and landscapes on the skin. This style of tattooing has become increasingly popular in recent years, with tattoo artists creating highly realistic pieces that look almost like photographs. From portraits of famous faces to incredibly detailed landscapes, realism tattoos are a unique type of body art that can bring out the beauty and power of the subject matter. In this article, we’ll explore the world of realism tattoos, and learn about the techniques used to create them.


Definition of Realism Tattoo

Definition Of Realism Tattoo
Realism tattoo is a style of tattooing that focuses on creating incredibly detailed, life-like images. It is one of the most challenging styles of tattooing as it requires an artist to have a deep understanding of fine art techniques, particularly when it comes to shading, tone and color.


The realism tattoo style has been around since the early 20th century, but it wasn’t until the 1950s and 1960s that it really took off. It was during this time that some of the most famous tattoo artists, such as Sailor Jerry and Don Ed Hardy, began to experiment with the style. Since then, realism tattooing has become increasingly popular, with more and more artists pushing the boundaries of the style.


The realism tattoo requires an artist to be highly skilled in their craft, as they must be able to accurately replicate a subject’s features in order to create a life-like tattoo. This requires an in-depth knowledge of shading, tone, and color. Additionally, the artist must be able to accurately measure the subject’s body in order to create a tattoo that fits correctly. As such, realism tattoos are incredibly time consuming and often require multiple sessions to complete.

Benefits of Realism Tattoo

Benefits Of Realism Tattoo

  • Realism tattoos are incredibly detailed works of art that can capture the most important moments and memories in life.
  • These tattoos are designed to look like a photograph, with incredibly lifelike colors, tones and textures.
  • The tattoos are permanent and remain on the skin for a lifetime, so the memories and moments they represent remain with you forever.
  • Realism tattoos can be customized to your exact specifications, allowing you to express yourself in an incredibly unique way.
  • Realism tattoos can be used to commemorate special events, such as weddings or anniversaries, making them a great way to remember and honor those occasions.
  • Realism tattoos are highly versatile and can be used to depict a variety of subjects, from animals and people to objects and scenery.
  • Realism tattoos can be used to cover up existing body art, adding extra meaning and emotion to the piece.
  • Realism tattoos are incredibly durable and will not easily fade over time, unlike other types of tattoos.
  • These tattoos can also be used to create a 3D effect, making them even more lifelike.

In order to achieve the most realistic look, it is important to find an experienced tattoo artist who is skilled in how to tattoo realism. The artist should be able to understand your vision and bring it to life with their artistry.

Popular Styles of Realism Tattoo

Popular Styles Of Realism Tattoo

Realism tattoo art has the ability to create tattoos that look almost like a photograph. It can capture the minute details of a person’s face, their clothing, and their environment. Realism tattoos can be done in a variety of different styles. Here are some of the most popular realism tattoo styles:

Portrait Tattoos – Portraits are some of the most popular realism tattoos. These tattoos can capture a person’s likeness in a highly detailed and realistic way.

Black and Gray Tattoos – Black and gray tattoos are the most common type of realism tattoos. This style of tattoo uses shades of black and gray to create a highly detailed and realistic effect.

Color Realism Tattoos – Color realism tattoos are a more recent development in the world of realism tattoos. This style of tattoo uses vivid colors to create a more lifelike tattoo.

Landscape Tattoos – Landscape tattoos are another popular realism tattoo style. These tattoos can capture a person’s environment and the landscapes of their life.

Surrealism Tattoos – Surrealism tattoos combine realism and fantasy. These tattoos often feature a mix of realistic elements and dreamlike elements, creating a unique and eye-catching tattoo.

Realism tattoos can be done in a variety of different styles, from portraits to landscapes to surrealism. With the right artist, any of these styles can be used to create a lifelike and detailed tattoo.

Tips for Getting a Realism Tattoo

Tips For Getting A Realism Tattoo

Research – The most important thing to do when getting a realism tattoo is researching your artist. Look up their portfolio and read reviews to make sure they specialize in realism tattoos.

Design – When it comes to realism tattoos, the design is key. Look for detailed reference images that are as realistic as possible.

Size – Realism tattoos tend to be larger than traditional tattoos, so be prepared to invest in a larger piece.

Colors – Realism tattoos require a lot of color and depth, so be sure to choose bold, vibrant colors that will stand out.

Placement – Realism tattoos are best placed on larger areas of the body, such as the back, arms, legs, and chest.

Pain – Realism tattoos require a lot of shading and detail, which can be more painful than traditional tattoos. Be sure to discuss pain management options with your artist.

Aftercare – Aftercare is essential for realism tattoos, as they require extra care to keep the colors vibrant and the lines sharp. Talk to your artist about the best aftercare products for your tattoo.

Finding the Right Artist for Realism Tattoo

Finding The Right Artist For Realism Tattoo

  • Research: Before settling on an artist, research extensively and compare portfolios.
  • Experience: Look for an artist who has experience in realism tattooing.
  • Communication: Choose an artist who is open to communicating and discussing your design ideas.
  • Style: Find an artist who works in the style of realism that you prefer.
  • Reviews: Read customer reviews to get an idea of their past work and customer satisfaction.
  • Portfolio: Look for an artist who has a portfolio filled with work similar to what you want.
  • Sanitary Practices: Ensure that the artist is following all necessary sanitary practices.

Finding the right artist for a realism tattoo is essential. It is important to do your research and look for an experienced artist who is open to feedback and communicates well. Look for an artist whose style of realism matches your desired design, and read reviews to get an idea about their past work and customer satisfaction. Make sure to view the artist’s portfolio to get an idea of their work and ensure they are following all necessary sanitary practices.

Aftercare for Realism Tattoo

Aftercare For Realism Tattoo

  • Keep the area clean and dry: Clean the area with lukewarm water and mild unscented soap. Pat the area dry with a clean, dry cloth.
  • Apply a thin layer of ointment: Once the tattoo is completely dry, apply a thin layer of ointment. Use an ointment specifically designed for tattoos, such as Aquaphor or Hustle Butter.
  • Wear loose clothing: Wear loose clothing to avoid irritation and friction to the area.
  • Avoid direct sunlight: If possible, keep the tattooed area away from direct sunlight for the first few weeks.
  • Keep the area moisturized: Keep the area moisturized with a non-scented lotion. Apply a thin layer of lotion twice a day.
  • Avoid swimming: Avoid swimming or soaking in hot tubs for the first few weeks after getting the tattoo.
  • Avoid picking or scratching: Do not pick or scratch the tattooed area. Scratching can damage the tattoo and increase the risk of infection.
  • Follow your artist’s instructions: Follow your artist’s specific aftercare instructions. It’s important to follow their advice to ensure the best results.

Cost of Realism Tattoo

Realism tattoos are some of the most intricate and detailed tattoos available. The cost of a realism tattoo will depend on size, complexity, and the artist’s experience, but a small piece can start around $300 while a large piece can cost upwards of $1000. The cost of a realism tattoo is usually higher than other tattoo styles due to the amount of time and effort that goes into creating the artwork.

Tattoo Size Cost Range
Small (3″x3”) $300 – $600
Medium (6”x6”) $600 – $1000
Large (12”x12”) $1000 – $2000

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Difference between a Realism Tattoo and a Traditional Tattoo?

  • Style: Traditional tattoos are often composed of bold lines and solid colors while realism tattoos are usually more detailed and life-like, with shading and gradients used to create a three-dimensional effect.
  • Subject Matter: Traditional tattoos often feature images like anchors, hearts, skulls, or other classic symbols while realism tattoos typically depict more naturalistic elements, such as people, animals, or landscapes.
  • Tattoo Medium: Traditional tattoos are usually done with a needle and ink, while realism tattoos can also be done with airbrush, paint, or other mediums to create a more realistic look.

Realism tattoos are more detailed and intricate than traditional tattoos, often requiring more time and skill from the artist. They can be more expensive and may require multiple sessions to complete. However, these unique tattoos can create a stunning effect and capture realistic details that traditional tattoos can’t.

How long does a realism tattoo typically take to complete?

Realism tattoos are intricate and detailed artwork that requires patience and skill from the artist to create a life-like image. The length of time it takes to complete a realism tattoo depends on several factors, such as:

  • Size of the tattoo
  • Number of colors used
  • Amount of shading and detail
  • Experience level of the artist

Generally, a realism tattoo can take anywhere from 2 to 10 hours to complete. A small tattoo could take as little as one hour while a large piece with many colors and details may take up to 10 hours. An artist with more experience will also be able to complete the tattoo more quickly.

Does a Realism Tattoo Require More Skill and Technique than a Traditional Tattoo?

Realism tattooing requires a greater level of skill and technique than traditional tattooing due to its intricate details and attention to lifelike elements. As realism tattoos take longer to complete and require higher levels of accuracy, the artist needs to have a greater understanding of the human body and its structure in order to create a realistic-looking tattoo. They must also have a great eye for detail, as well as a steady hand and the ability to focus on the intricate details of the tattoo. Additionally, they must be able to work with a variety of shading techniques in order to create a realistic, three-dimensional tattoo.

Is a Realism Tattoo More Expensive Than a Traditional Tattoo?

Realism tattoos are typically more expensive than traditional tattoos due to the time and skill required to create a realistic image. Realism tattoos require an artist to have knowledge of color theory, shading and blending techniques, and a good eye for detail. Additionally, the size of the tattoo, complexity of the design, and the number of colors used can all affect the cost of the tattoo.

What kind of aftercare is required for a realism tattoo?

  • Keep the area clean: It is important to keep the area clean to allow the tattoo to heal properly. Wash the area with a mild soap and lukewarm water twice a day.
  • Moisturize: After it has been washed and dried, moisturize the area to hydrate the skin and help prevent scabbing. Use a lotion or ointment that does not contain alcohol, lanolin, mineral oil, petroleum, or fragrances.
  • Protect the area from the sun: The area should be kept out of direct sunlight, as this can cause the colors to fade prematurely. Use a high SPF sunscreen when you are outdoors and avoid swimming or soaking the area in water.
  • Avoid picking: The area should not be picked or scratched, as this can cause infection or damage the tattoo.


Realism tattoos offer an alternative to traditional tattoo designs. They offer an unparalleled level of detail and realism, allowing tattoo artists to create a truly life-like piece of artwork. While realism tattoos require more skill and experience to create, the results are well worth the extra effort. With their stunning photo-realistic effects, realism tattoos are sure to make an impact on anyone who sees them.


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