Single fine line tattoo designs are a fairly modern phenomenon. As with any tattoo, this should be a carefully considered decision. Remember to take your time when making the decision. If you decide you want a tattoo, remember you will be living with it for a long time. You don’t want to regret it.
Make sure it is the right tattoo for you. Having something permanently on your body is a big decision, and should be carefully considered. Here are 30 single line tattoo ideas for your inspiration.
Fashion is transient, Style is timeless.
Below you will see many examples of single line tattoo designs I have collected. I would suggest you do the same. Find as many examples as you can. As you go through them, gradually narrow your choices down. You will eventually be left with the right design for you.
The concept of single line tattoos comes from an art exercise called Blind Contour Drawing. If you are interested there is a more detailed article about this kind of art. Scribble drawing is another version that is similar. Both Blind Contour drawings and Scribble drawing designs can make great tattoos.
What Single Line Tattoo Design Should I Get?
This is a very personal decision. Perhaps you want something that has a special meaning to you? Or you might be more focussed on the artistry of the design. Maybe something will jump out at you straight away. If so, put it on one side, it may well be your final choice. However, it shouldn’t stop you from continuing to look.
Can Single Line Tattoos Be Coloured In?
As you can see below the lines of a tattoo like this can be done in different colours, but colouring areas of the design in will change it. That does not mean you cant do it. If that is what you want then tell the artist. I have seen line drawings with the eyes coloured in that look fantastic. The final choice is always yours.
The designs below will show you some of the different styles and ideas other people have used but remember this is for you not them. Choose something that suits your character.
Things To Consider
I have listed some of the things to consider before you get a tattoo, but with this type of tattoo design, the skill of the tattooists line work is the primary consideration. You need bold consistent lines for a good single line tattoo to work properly.
Some tattooists have incredible colour control, others specialise in the sort of graduated shading vital with black and grey tattoo’s, but it is the skill and control with which they achieve smooth even lines that is the biggest concern with these tattoos.
As I have said before, finding the right tattooist for the job should be your primary concern. No tattooist is the best at everything. Finding someone who specialises in the kind of tattoo you want will most often give you the best results.
Good Tattooist Vs Bad Tattooist
I have seen many a tattoo that was originally a detailed design, end up looking like a messy dark splodge of ink, as all the lines spread and just form a blob of undefined colour. This can be particularly bad if a poorly trained tattooist goes in a little too far with the needles.
The aim of the tattooist is the place the ink in the layer of skin called the dermis. This is the second layer of skin down, underneath the outer layer of skin called the epidermis. If the tattooist doesn’t go in far enough, although the colour may initially look vivid, it will fade very quickly.
On the other hand, below the dermis, is a layer of subcutaneous fat and if the tattooist goes too deep and the ink enters this layer, any idea of detail will be lost very quickly. The ink spreads in the fatty tissue. This is bad news, difficult to cover, and can also leave scar tissue from the excess damage caused to the outer layers of skin too.
Don’t Be Fooled
You will see below one of the problems that choosing the wrong tattooist can cause. It may be that the original drawing was much better but we will never know. Perhaps an inexperienced artist didn’t do a good stencil but my initial thoughts are that they didn’t stretch the skin consistently while tattooing or were simply a beginner who shouldn’t have been doing the tattoo.
Instead of getting the smooth lines you want in a tattoo you can see wobbles in many of the lines. The shape of the nose is totally wrong and the whole tattoo is just poorly executed.
If this was a tattoo with a lot of dark block colours this could maybe be hidden but in this kind of line tattoo design there is nothing that can be done to rescue the design. I would be totally embarrassed if I had done this tattoo and I can imagine the hours of heartache that the person who had the tattoo suffered.
With a mistake like this there are few options and my first solution would be to find a different tattooist fast to discuss what can be done.
A good black and grey artist might be able to introduce enough shadows to re-shape the design but in this example I think that would be hard. Smoothing the line work would create much wider lines but it might be possible to use the wider lines to re-shape the different parts of the tattoo to improve it. Alternatively it might be that the only real option is to choose a completely different kind of tattoo with a lot of dark colour to cover the original tattoo completely.
Laser tattoo removal has become a huge business now. This should give you an idea how many people end up regretting the tattoos they get. Try not to become one of those people.
Removing the tattoo is a painful process and even when done well it does damage the skin. The process involves damaging the skin containing the ink to increase skin peeling and dissipate the ink. If it is done too quickly the damage to the skin can be permanent so think carefully before you make any decisions.
Consider where you want the tattoo – not all tattoos fit in certain places. The shape of the tattoo should complement the shape of the area the tattoo is to be done.
Some people want the tattoo on show all the time, and will choose an area that isn’t covered by clothes so much. For others, having the tattoo on show is less important, and the ability to cover it when needed may be part of the decision.
Remember, there is no such thing as the right place or the right tattoo that will fit everyone, tattoos are a very personal thing, and time spent making sure it is the right design for you, in the place you want it, may well save years of heartache later.
Too many people spend time regretting a rash decision. Whatever you do, don’t make that decision when you are drunk. Any professional tattooist will simply refuse to do the tattoo if you arrive at the studio drunk, and this isn’t just a matter of avoiding people making poor decisions.
Alcohol thins the blood, so will cause more bleeding, which will effectively dilute the pigment in the inks. Colours will never be as vivid, and can look washed out and old very quickly.
Finding the Right Tattooist
When you have found a design, you need to find the right tattooist, and this can be a minefield. A professional artist will not shy away from questions, and should happily show you examples of what you want that he or she has done, if they can’t or won’t, walk away and find another artist.
As tattoos have become more common and acceptable, there is a much bigger choice of artists. If you can, find an artist who specialises in the sort of design you want. This will always give you the best results.
How Much Do Line Tattoos Cost?
Try not to get too hung up on price, I figured out a long time ago this can be really misleading. Some tattooists work much faster than others. With a small tattoo it may well be you are given a fixed price, which makes comparison easier, but even if the hourly rate charged is larger, the speed they work might mean the tattoo will become cheaper overall.
How Long Will It Take To Complete The Tattoo?
As I said above some tattooists do just work faster than others, but the complexity of the design will be the biggest influence on how long it takes. A small, simple, minimal design may only take 20 to 30 minutes of actual tattoo time. A larger more complex tattoo will obviously take longer. Talk to your tattooist for an idea how long the design you choose will take.
Spending a little more may mean the difference between being proud of a really special single line tattoo or being disappointed with the finished product. Too many people end up regretting tattoos they have had.
Time & Ageing
Another thing to consider is the effect time will have on a tattoo. Some areas of the body shed and replace skin much faster than others, if a tattoo is done on the hands or elbows for example, the design is likely to fade much faster. The design itself can also make a huge difference over time.
However good the tattooist is, even when the tattoo is done perfectly, over time, lines will spread. What was once a complex and detailed fine line tattoo can become blurred and more solid looking. All lines will spread in time and the gaps between lines will become less defined.
Detail is great, but should be balanced against the knowledge that all tattoos will spread to a certain extent. Imagine what the design you choose will look like drawn with a blunt pencil instead of a sharp one. That is what your tattoo is likely to end up looking like after ten to fifteen years.
Consider All The Options
If you follow this link it will take you to some fantastic tattoo ideas. You can look at them for more inspiration. From minimalist tattoos to plants, dragon tattoos, Disney tattoos and mandala sleeves. They may not be quite what you want. However, the designs or styles may help you decide on the final tattoo that suits you best.
Scroll down to see more. You can also look at the link here for some different tattoo ideas and inspiration.