A coloured ink tattoo can be a striking and beautiful piece of art. But many first-timers wonder if going for anything but black and white may mean nothing more than constant touchups, faded designs, and potential regret.

Picking a design for a tattoo can be challenging enough without having to sweat over the choice between colour and black ink. 

In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know when considering a coloured tattoo compared to a black and grey tattoo. 

As a bonus, we’ll even go over what you need to know about the mysterious white ink tattoos. 

Coloured Ink Tattoos

A colour tattoo certainly looks impressive when it’s pulled off well. It’s like carrying a piece of art with you, etched into your very skin. 

With a coloured tattoo comes a lot of artistic flexibility. A few tattoo styles tend to do best in full colour – these could include Old School, New School, Watercolor, Illustrative, and Japanese techniques. 

If you are looking into the above tattoo styles, coloured ink might be the best tattoo choice for you.

Colour ink tattoos are also the specialty of certain artists. As always, we recommend checking out the portfolio of your tattoo artist.

The ability for colour tattoos to cover many different shades makes colour the best tattoo ink for more extensive and more complicated pieces. Using different colours will make it easier to distinguish the different parts of these larger pieces.

Disadvantages to Colour Ink Tattoos

However, there are some downsides to colour tattoos. While they work amazingly for large pieces, they aren’t the best choice for smaller tattoos. In this case, the colours often start to blur together, creating a less crisp effect on the tattoo as a whole. 

If you take advantage of all that colour offers and get a larger piece, this does come with its challenges. Larger tattoos involve more aftercare, needing bandages and careful protection from things like water and excess sunlight.

Colour tattoos, in particular, are in great danger from sunlight, as the inks are prone to fading if exposed to too much light. Considering that these vibrant colours are part of the appeal of the tattoo, it’s all the more disappointing if this kind of fading occurs. 

Black and Grey Ink Tattoos

Before we get into the pros and cons of black and grey ink tattoos, it’s essential to make sure that you understand the different types of black and white tattoos. 

The first kind is known as blackwork – a simple no colour tattoo, where only black ink is used, with no shading. 

The following kind is the “classic” black and grey tattoo, which uses black ink in various shades. 

The last kind is the rarer “opaque gray” tattoos, a kind of “black and white tattoos,” which mixes black and white ink (more on that later) to create different shades of grey. 

Black and White Styles

There are a few styles of tattoo that work very well with these options. Black and grey realism tattoos, blackwork tattoos, and tribal tattoos are all styles that are well suited to using one or more of these options. 

If your tattoo artist specializes in any of these styles, you may want to play to their strengths to get the absolute best artwork possible. As in any other case, go check out their portfolio!

Black and grey tattoos are generally perfect for smaller tattoos, creating crisp pieces even at a tiny scale. 

Script or Small Tattoos

If you are getting writing or script done or a tattoo in an area with limited space, black and grey tattoos may be the way to go. Even on these more minor scales, the tattoos can be pretty easy to parse for a viewer. 

Of course, you are losing out on a lot of potential expression and creativity with black and grey tattoos, especially when it comes to larger pieces. 

You should also be careful when using no colour tattoos at larger scales, especially with black and grey realism tattoos. Bigger pictures might start to lose their tight definition in their shading at this size. 

White Ink

Most people are familiar with colour tattoos and with black and white tattoos, but white ink is a bit of a rarer beast. The idea behind white ink is pretty simple – they are tattoos made with totally colourless white ink. 

There are some benefits to this. 

Firstly, the rarity of white ink tattoos will always make them look unique and striking. Since they don’t cover the natural scarring caused by tattoos very well, they will often have a unique “raised.” This gives the tattoo an almost three-dimensional quality. 

White ink tattoos also look fantastic on darker skin tones. This makes them a great option if you have a darker skin tone.

However, white ink tattoos may be rare for a reason, as it comes with plenty of complications. 

While both are good with linework, white ink tattoos can’t handle shading entirely as well as black and grey tattoos. 

White ink tattoos are also tough to apply. Also, it may be difficult even to find an artist who can do them well. 

On many skin tones, it’s challenging to pick out the white ink tattoo. This means that only the keenest-eyed tattoo artists can create these tattoos with accuracy.

White ink tattoos also experience the fading issues of colour tattoos but to an even greater degree. 

If your skin tone is already pale, it can be hard to see a white ink tattoo at all, let alone after it fades. It can even fade into looking like a scar rather than a piece of intricate tattoo art.

Want to Learn More About Ink?

Hopefully, this piece will have shown you how much of a difference the ink can make. At Sage Tattoo and Art Gallery, we’re dedicated to ensuring that every tattoo our customers get is one they love. 

If you still have questions about getting ink, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d be happy to answer any of your inquiries!