The key to creating believable 3D tattoos is to use the right shading and perspective. Here’s how artists like Jesse Rix, Eliot Kohek, and more get their designs to pop off the skin.

The Ultimate Guide to 3D Tattoos

3d tattoo faith

Image from Pouted Magazine

If you ask someone why they wanted to get tattoos, you’ll usually hear the same answer: “I wanted to stand out.” But what if you could do that with a tattoo that stands out more than any other?

More and more ink fans are choosing to get 3D tattoos. They look cool as hell, but many people who are on the fence about these tats wonder what they are and just how they work.

Want some eye-popping info on some eye-popping tattoos? Keep reading to discover our ultimate guide to 3D tattoos!

3d tattoo robot hand

Image from Tattoo Designs

Is It Really 3D?

The first question most people have: is it really 3D? The short answer to this is “no.” At the end of the day, this is still a two-dimensional piece of art that you get on your body.

The 3D part basically works as a kind of optical illusion. If you’ve ever seen still internet images seemingly pop out of the screen, it’s the same basic principle.

How Do They Actually Work?

3d tattoo spider

Image from Anarhi

So, you know that 3D tattoos are an optical illusion. That leaves a bigger question, then: just how does the illusion work?

It all comes down to the lighting and shading on the image. These techniques can make parts of a tattoo appear closer and parts of it to appear further away. Put these techniques together and you get tattoos that practically jump off your skin.

Trust us: as cool as these things look online, they are even cooler in person!

Do All Designs Work?


Image from Scene360

Now you know more about how 3D tattoos are put together. However, it’s worth exploring what best practices are when it comes to design. Are all designs going to work well with 3D tattoos?

The answer to this question is “yes and no.” In the hands of a skilled tattoo artist, almost any image can be given an awesome three-dimensional treatment. However, some kinds of art naturally work better for 3D than others.

For instance, some people like to get 3D geometry tattoos. The combination of these shapes, shading, and lighting can create a tattoo that is absolutely hypnotic to anyone looking at it!

Endless Possibilities

3D Tattoo Designs Best of Best 3D tattoos in the world Amazing 3D Tattoo Design Ideas

Image from GaxOnline

While they’ve been growing in popularity recently, 3D tattoos have been around for a while. And one of our favorite things about these tats is that the design possibilities are pretty much endless.

Do you like skull tattoos, for example? With a 3D tattoo, you can make it look like bone is protruding directly from your arms! Are you a fan of superheroes? A good 3D tattoo can make it look like you’ve got the uniform of your favorite character hidden beneath your chest.

If you’re in the “go big or go home” camp of tattoos, then it doesn’t get much bigger and louder than 3D.

3D Tattoos: Final Thoughts

Now you’ve learned a bit more about how 3D tattoos can bring your skin to life. But do you know where you’ll learn about the next big thing in the world of ink?

Here at Tattooing 101, we bring you all the news that’s fit to print, etch, or ink. Be sure to bookmark this site so you can get more hot info each week!

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Nathan Molenaar

Nathan is a licensed professional tattoo artist with over 8 years’ experience working at studios across the globe, including Celebrity Ink, the world's largest tattoo studio chain.

When he's not tattooing, he spends his free time sharing his experience and knowledge with aspiring artists who dream of pursuing a career in the tattooing industry.

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