As a new tattoo artist, you’ve probably been told to draw tons of “flash tattoos.” These are smaller tattoo designs that you’ll usually see displayed on the wall of a tattoo shop. If customers come in without an idea for a custom piece, they can pick a flash design. Usually, flash sheets will have popular designs, which means several clients might end up with the same tattoo.
The reason it’s recommended for beginners to focus on these flash designs is because sticking to small pieces will help you pump out lots of art very quickly, which will help you learn faster. It also prepares you to do small tattoos on clients, since you’ll be sticking to smaller designs for the first year of your career.
However, if you’ve ever sat down to draw designs, you know that half the battle of drawing tons of flash is coming up with ideas.
If you’re looking for inspiration, you’re in the right place. We’ve collected over 50 flash sheets and designs - both traditional tattoo flash as well as more custom tattoos - to give you some fresh ideas.
Traditional Tattoo Style
While Sailor Jerry is known for creating the classic designs that are now called “traditional tattoo flash,” tons of artists have made their own versions of his designs. This is what makes traditional flash the ideal choice when you’re trying to learn to draw tattoos fast: you have plenty of examples to pull from.
Not all flash has to be in color. You can create designs specifically for blackwork or black and grey:
Traditional - With a Twist
Even if you stick with traditional flash tattoos, you can still make them feel modern by using unexpected color palettes, like these artists:
Movie and Character-Inspired Flash Tattoos
These artists created flash sheets inspired by famous movie franchises and television shows:
Or, you can create an entire flash sheet around one character, like this:
Remember: Don’t skimp on the background of your flash sheet! This artist also made use of the small gaps on these sheets to better support their characters instead of using traditional “filler.”
New School Flash Tattoo Designs
When it comes to designing New School flash, remember that this style of tattoo exaggerates features and uses lots of bright colors.
Mandala Flash Tattoos
While they aren’t the first thing that comes to mind for flash designs, mandala tattoos are very popular and can work great as a flash sheet. While we’d recommend using a program like Procreate to create perfect lines for your stencil, drawing mandala for practice is a great way to work on your line work.
You can also make a larger, custom tattoo by adding more detail to your designs.
Neo Traditional Flash Tattoo Designs
Neo Traditional flash designs give you a bit more freedom than the traditional style because you can use different line weights and additional colors.
Realistic and Detailed Tattoo Flash
While flash sheets are known for being more illustrative, they can come in more detailed styles like realism. However, because most realism tattoo designs are made digitally, we don’t recommend them for artists trying to get a tattoo apprenticeship.
A future mentor will want to see your ability to draw as opposed to your Photoshop skills. If you want to include digitally-designed tattoo flash in your portfolio, it’s best to still “draw” them into an iPad to show your design ability.
Japanese Flash Tattoo Designs
Japanese tattoos tend to take up big areas of the body, like a full sleeve or even a body suit. However, when you’re first starting out, you want to stick with smaller designs. Using Japanese flash designs will let you get into that style without having to take on a big tattoo.
Free to Use Flash Tattoo Designs
One of the best things you can do to improve your skills fast is to practice drawing and tattooing flash designs by more experienced artists.
However, if you use the examples above to practice, you should not use them in your tattoo portfolio or post them on your social media. Using another artist’s work without their permission in your portfolio or on a client can give you a bad reputation in the tattoo industry and keep you from getting a spot in a shop.
To help you practice - without having to worry about that - we created some free flash sheets you can use to further your skills.
Get Professionally-Designed Tattoos
As a new tattoo artist, smaller flash tattoos are the best place to start to build your skills. However, as you move forward, you’ll need to be able to design larger, more intricate tattoos for your clients.
To do that, you’ll need to know how to draw with the flow of the muscles - and make sure your designs fit on the body without it wrapping too far around and overlapping. Without the right fit and flow, your tattoos will look awkward and limit your earning potential as a tattoo artist.
However, learning to draw with flow takes most artists years of trial and error…
And it can be really hard to wrap your head around when you’re just starting out. The best way to get the hang of it fast is to look at references of other artists’ work and see how they did it so you can replicate it in your own work.
As you practice drawing and tattooing those professional designs, you’ll naturally learn how to create designs that have flow.
That’s why we created the Tattooing 101 Sketch Book.
Inside, you’ll find 74 tattoo designs drawn for you by our professional tattoo artists. You can use them to inspire your own designs - or you can stencil them up and start tattooing right away.
Instead of hoping another tattoo artist doesn’t see that you’re practicing with their designs, you can rest assured that these are 100% for you to use however you like.
When you draw the designs inside or use as tattoo stencils, you’ll get used to creating designs with flow, which means you’ll be able to draw tattoos that always look good on the body.
If you would like to get your hands on a digital copy of 74 pro designs, hit the link below: