There’s a “tipping point” every new tattoo artist must deal with: moving from paper to skin. The most common mistake during this transition is attempting to start with a large, complicated piece.

The best way to get comfortable with the feel of working on skin - and the best way to avoid leaving behind a bad tattoo - is to start with easy tattoos for beginner artists.

Whether you’re working on paper or moving to skin, this library of easy tattoo drawings for beginners is a great place to return to when you need designs that are simple to create and look amazing. 

Simple designs can help you get customers. These designs are perfect for people new to tattoos who want to start small and simple. Having these designs on hand can help you land a few first clients and build a few solid portfolio pieces. 

Click on a category to jump, or scroll through this list of 100 easy tattoo designs for beginners:

Easy Skull Tattoo Designs for Beginners

1

Skull and rose tattoo 

This simple skull tattoo can be kept tiny and lets you avoid the trickiest parts of tattooing skulls: the shading and the teeth.

simple tattoo of a skull

2

“Grateful” skull

The simple skull tattoo design lets you play with angles...without dealing with the 3-D aspect. Use simple lines to create a grin and add personality with easy, single-line “eyebrows.”

tattoo art of a skull

3

Simple skull design 

If you’re struggling with pulling straight lines, this skull is the perfect practice: any wobbles or shakiness can be used to create “cracks” in the skull.

small tattoo stencil of a skull

4

Traditional rose and skull

Most artists learn American traditional designs first because they use bold lines and a limited color palette. This skull lets you practice clean linework and shading without asking you to blend lots of different colors.

Traditional rose and skul

5

Ram’s skull

Human faces are incredibly difficult to get right - even in skull form. If you’re still perfecting your face drawings, going for an animal skull like this one will let you practice on skin without leaving an oddly-shaped human skull behind.

Ram’s skull

6

Traditional cowboy skull

This traditional design lets you add some personality to the skull image without asking you to create detailed facial features. The shading in this image has clearly defined sections of shading, which is perfect for people still working on keeping blends smooth.

This flash uses a simple color palette while allowing you to practice color packing and shading.

Skull flash design

8

Hiding skull

The teeth and symmetry on a skull are difficult to nail, especially if you’re new to using a tattoo machine. A trick to get around is to have part of the design “hide” like this:

Hiding skull

9

Rose and half skull

Another “half skull” image, this easy tattoo design allows you to implement more shading without having to worry about being perfectly symmetrical on the other side.

Rose and half skull

10

Easy skull design

This skull line drawing keeps the teeth simple and separated so they don’t look “overcrowded” or off-center. Using this simple rose saves you from doing lots of tiny petals.

Easy Tribal Tattoos for Beginners

1

Tribal wave tattoo

Large tribal designs are difficult because of the way they wrap around the body. Using a simple design like this lets you show an image in a smaller space while still staying true to the tribal style principles.

2

Tribal spider tattoo

Tribal patterns usually call for “woven” lines of some sort. This tribal spider design lets you incorporate that element without asking you to create a complicated pattern.

3

Tribal lizard tattoo

This tribal lizard lets you practice packing in black ink while leaving a margin for error in the design. If you have a shaky line, this design has lots of negative space so you can add a better, cleaner line and fill in the space behind it. (This is a great option if a friend wants an animal tattoo and you aren’t comfortable with blending or skin-like texture.)

Tribal lizard tattoo

4

Swirling tribal tattoo

Learning how to create lines that run parallel to one another is an important skill to have as a tattoo artist. You’ll get practice with that with a design like this. The lines are far enough apart that small mistakes can be easily covered, and they are curved so if you’re slightly off with the angle, it’s much harder to tell.

5

Wolf tribal tattoo

Howling wolves and roaring lions are common tattoo images. If you aren’t ready to go with something realistic, giving this tribal wolf is a great way to incorporate that element without needing to be super detailed.

6

Small tribal tattoo designs

Tribal is all about thick, dark lines that flow with the body. While simple and fairly easy to apply, this type of design allows you to create a stellar-looking piece without incorporating lots of detail. Simply align the design with the flow of the body to accentuate the curve of a muscle. 

Cute Tattoo Ideas for Beginners

1

Easy cherry tattoo

If you’re very new to tattooing, creating a full outline that is the right shape can be complicated (and lead to shaky lines). This simple tattoo idea lets you create the illusion of an entire face without having to draw the actual shape.

Easy cherry tattoo

2

Tiny airplane tattoo

This is one of those rare images that looks 3-D without the need for shading, making it perfect for beginner tattoo artists.

Tiny airplane tattoo

3

Paw print tattoo

Lots of people get tattoos of their pets as a way to pay tribute to their furry friend. But most beginners struggle with creating realistic fur and capturing the little details that make a single pet look unique from its breed. Instead, new artists can opt for a paw print memorial (or a simple tattoo of the pet’s tag if you want to go more personal).

Paw print tattoo

4

Traditional fruit tattoo

Fruits and vegetables are great pieces for beginners. They use simple shapes and one color without a ton of detail.

Traditional fruit tattoo

5

Easy ghost tattoo

The folds in the fabric make it look 3-D without shading, and the “eyes” give it depth without asking you to recreate detailed pupils or eyelids.

Easy ghost tattoo

6

Bicycle Line Tattoo

This design is great for beginners because of its whimsical nature. If the tires aren’t perfectly circular, they will fit with the character of this bike, and you don’t have to pull any thin lines to create the spokes of the wheel. 

Bicycle Line Tattoo

7

Bow Tattoo

This bow design leaves margin for error for new artists learning to shade. Imperfect shading will not ruin the way this bow’s dimensions come across. (In contrast, incorrect shading on a face can completely change the way the person looks).

Bow Tattoo

8

Teapot tattoo

This teapot design can be simplified for new artists (take out the tiny leaves on the pot) and is a great way to practice stipple shading.

9

Ladybug Tattoo

A ladybug design like this lets you pack a lot of color and personality into a simple tattoo design.

Ladybug Tattoo

10

Kite line tattoo

This image can be broken down into simple shapes, which is what makes it a great design for new artists. And because kites can vary a bit in size and shape, if the shape doesn’t come out perfectly, it will still be easily “readable” as a kite after the center lines and tail are added.

Kite line tattoo

Easy Animal Tattoo Ideas

1

Easy Elephant Tattoo

This elephant design uses only an outline so that you can make a cute 2-D design that requires no shading.

2

Turtle Tattoo Design

The shell of this turtle design lets you practice dot work. If it’s a bit off or the shading isn’t perfect, the design will still be easily readable because of the clear outline.

3

Easy Koi Fish Tattoos

Koi fish are incredibly popular in the Japanese tattooing style. While they often feature complicated face shapes and overlapping scales, starting with simpler koi fish like these lets you get familiar with the shape...without having to work in all the detail.

4

Easy dog tattoos

Animals - and their facial expressions - are very hard to recreate, especially when you’re trying to replicate one specific pet. Using easy tattoo outlines lets you capture a favorite pet’s personality without having to deal with facial symmetry, expressions, eyes, or fur texture.

5

Easy Cat Tattoo

This simple design lets you create a cat without worrying about fur, whiskers, or many facial features.

6

Simple panda tattoo design

This design lets you use negative space to your advantage. You do not have to pull any thin lines and can instead focus on packing the black ink.

7

Simple Snake Tattoo

This snake uses outlining to its advantage. Without facial features or scales, you can keep this design simple while still creating a dynamic piece.

8

Simple bird tattoos

Because these black and gray tattoos just use an outline, you won’t be dealing with eyes, beaks, or gnarled claws.

9

Easy Butterfly Tattoo

Usually, a butterfly tattoo means making perfect symmetry for the wings. But a design like this saves you from packing black into tiny areas or having to pull a lot of thin lines.

10

Dinosaur Tattoo

This dinosaur is long and short, which means you can fit the whole design on a body part without having to worry about it curving around an arm or a leg. The “shading” is made entirely of lines and crosshatching, which is a great option if you’re struggling with creating smooth blends.

Easy Space Tattoos

1

Minimalist Spaceship Tattoo

This tiny spaceship calls for very simple line work and no shading, making it the perfect, simple design for new artists.

2

Space-themed Tattoo

This image is deceptive because it looks difficult, but can be done by a beginner. This design cuts out the most difficult portion of the face - the eyes - and greatly simplifies the lips. It uses a harsh outline to create a “cracked statue” appearance (and lets you skip out on having to create a smooth blend between the tattoo and the surrounding skin).

3

Planet Tattoos

In tattooing, spherical elements usually call for complicated shading featuring two light sources. In this design, beginner artists can take advantage of the cartoonish, 2-D style and avoid using a broad spectrum of graywash.

4

Constellation Tattoos

Constellations make great tattoo designs for beginners. They use short lines and no shading but still look elegant.

5

Orion Tattoo

Constellation designs can be made simpler by using dots instead of stars, and can be bolder by connecting the lines to one another. This lets you create a clear picture without having to prepare a complicated image.  

6

Easy Alien Tattoo

When in doubt, pick a design with simple lines and shapes. The completely black eyes makes it easy to tattoo a “face” with hardly any detail.

7

Comet Tattoo

This comet and planet design lets you practice blending color without the need to focus on shading as well.

8

Spaceship Tattoo

While this spaceship has overlapping images, they are all made from very basic shapes and don’t call for too many complicated twists and turns. The details all use one line weight, and you don’t have to incorporate any panels, buttons, writing, etc. (This is why cartoonish images and traditional tattoos are a great place to start before diving into more complicated styles like realism.)

9

Milky Way Tattoo

Deceptively simple, this Milky Way tattoo lets you use dot work to create the illusion of thousands of stars and depth.

10

Creative Space Tattoo

This one is perfect if you want a challenge when it comes to using negative space. However, it looks far more complicated than it is, since the 3-D effect is made with just a few lines.

Simple Nature Tattoos for Beginners

1

Minimalist Wave Tattoo

This wave tattoo is easy to recreate and instantly recognizable.

easy tattoo of a wave

2

Simple Sun Tattoo

This sun lets you use negative space so that you don’t have to draw a circle with your tattoo machine. You can use a circle on your stencil as a guide and then pull the lines out and away from there.

simplistic tattoo of a sun

3

Minimalist Mountain Tattoo

If you’re struggling with making smooth, straight lines, a mountain tattoo is a perfect way to practice on real skin. You won’t have to pull a perfect line, since the rocky terrain already has that “wobbly” line.

mountain tattoo using only black ink

4

Line Work Flower Tattoo

Most floral tattoos call for very careful shading. With the wrong shading, it can make the flower’s image difficult to see. This outline-only tattoo allows you to recreate a blooming magnolia without any shading.

simple tattoo design of a flower

5

Simple Flower Tattoo

If you want to take on some shading, this floral design lets you practice shading without having to do a lot of overlapping petals or leaves.

6

Sunshine Line Work Tattoo

If you’re concerned about creating a symmetrical circle, this half-sun tattoo will look great...and allow you to get away with only drawing a half-circle on the skin.

7

Minimalist Nature Tattoo

This easy nature tattoo has no shading and very simple linework. Because the leaves do not have any detailing, you can stay with the same tattoo needle throughout the piece.

8

Easy Camping Tattoo

Minimalist tattoos are great for new tattoo artists because they don’t call for you to use perspective drawings or any shading. The tree here is just a squiggly line so you don’t have to create detailed branches or leaves, either. 

camping tattoo designs

9

Seashell Tattoo

This seashell uses only two different line weights, making it a great tattoo if you have limited supplies.

tiny tattoo of a seashell

10

Lemon Tree Tattoo

While this is a traditional piece, it doesn’t require much blending (the leaves have separate sections and the lemons can be blended (yellow and orange) or remain a solid yellow.

Easy Music Tattoos

1

Record Player Tattoo

The challenge of this design is the linework (the detailing in the petals and on the wood surface). However, because of the easily recognizable shapes (the sunflower and the record player), a small slip-up won’t destroy the tattoo’s overall design.

2

Easy Music Tattoos

Music notes make for great beginner tattoos. They require no shading and you can easily thicken up any shaky lines.

small tattoo ideas for musicians

3

Simple Piano Tattoo

A design with piano keys that aren’t fully outlined prevents any keys from looking “uneven” or noticeably bigger than one another.

4

Minimalist Guitar Tattoo

Musical instruments are incredibly detailed images, so sticking to line work-only tattoos makes your job way easier while you’re learning.

5

Music Notes Tattoo

This design looks complicated, but it actually lets you create a fun design (even if you’re struggling with creating uniform pieces). If you look at this design, you can see the flags of each note are very similar - but none of them are perfect. This would be more noticeable if they were placed side-by-side.

6

American Traditional Music Tattoo

This traditional design lets you use simple lines to create depth in the design without having to incorporate any 3-D shading.

7

Music Heartbeat Tattoo

There’s no overlapping elements or shading in this design, so you can start off simple.

8

Music Record Tattoo

With this record, you can avoid having to draw a perfect circle on the skin and by packing black in most of the design, you don’t have to outline each ridge on the record.

9

Minimalist Headphones Tattoo

Since this tattoo is all simple shapes and black packing, you can avoid doing a lot of intricate line work.

minimalist tattoo for music lovers

10

Old School Microphone Tattoo

An image like this one allows you to make a 3-D, realistic looking design without a ton of shading.

Easy Traditional Tattoo Designs for Beginners

1

American Traditional Rose Tattoo

Traditional-style roses are generally considered a “right of passage” for most new tattoo artists. They feature thick, solid lines, and only a few layers of petals, making them an easier starting point as you build up to more complicated work.

2

Easy Black and Gray Flower Tattoo

Using black and gray in a traditional design lets you focus on shading as opposed to blending colors.

3

Nautical Star

You can make this tattoo easier or harder, depending on your skills and comfort level. Instead of blending or using color, the star can alternate with no fill and straight black. Or, you can use black and gray shading on both sides to make the star appear metallic.

easy tattoo of a star

4

Swallow Tattoos

You’ll see these swallows on most traditional flash sheets.

swallow tattoo designs

5

Simple Black and Gray Rose Design

This rose cuts out any blending for new artists struggling with creating smooth blends. Instead, it uses dark outlines and packing black ink to create clear, bold contrast. 

6

Traditional Dagger Tattoo

This design slices “through” the skin, breaking up the longest lines in the design into more manageable pieces.

7

Arrow Tattoo

The traditional bow and arrow is a great way to work on pulling long lines.

8

Simple Flower Tattoo

Azaleas are regularly used as decoration in traditional designs because of their elegant simplicity. On their own, they are great tattoo designs for beginners because they feature no complicated shading or overlapping petals.

small tattoo design of a flower

9

Easy Anchor Tattoo

Because most of the anchor has just black ink, you don’t have to worry about a ton of shading on this design.

traditional anchor tattoo

10

Challenge: Traditional Compass Tattoo

This compass is a great design to work up to after trying out the traditional star and azalea, as it incorporates elements of both of those designs. While it is a bit more complicated than the other traditional pieces in this list, it remains true to the traditional style with its foundational shading techniques and clear, bold lines.

simple tattoos in American Traditional style

Character Tattoos

1

Deathly Hallows Tattoo

For new tattoo artists, recreating realistic images of celebrities or making a perfect replica of a famous cartoon can be difficult. While you continue to learn, creating “character” tattoos by using recognizable symbols (instead of faces) is a great alternative. For example, this symbol of the Deathly Hallows is going to be much easier to tattoo than one of the characters from Harry Potter.

2

Simple Mandalorian Tattoo

Rooting a design in traditional tattooing technique can make creating a character piece much easier, like with this image from Disney’s “Mandalorian.”

3

Small BB-8 Tattoo

Non-human characters are a great way to pay homage to a film franchise without having to recreate a human image. For example, BB-8 from the Star Wars franchise makes a very simple tattoo composed of basic shapes and limited shading.

4

Easy Batman Tattoo

Characters with very recognizable symbols let you make small, simple tattoos with little shading or detailing.

tiny tattoo of Batman symbol

5

Easy Spiderman Tattoo

If you want to create an image of an actual character, going with a simplified “cartoon” version can help reduce the amount of shading and detailed linework necessary to produce a strong tattoo.

6

Easy Spongebob Tattoo

Finding innovative ways of positioning characters (like having them face away) can help you avoid having to perfectly capture their facial expressions (a problem that can quickly ruin a tattoo).

7

King Boo Tattoo

The great thing about choosing to work with many cartoon characters is that they are made of simple shapes. This is particularly true of characters that artists needed to draw over and over again very quickly. These simple shapes mean less shading and easy-to-reproduce images.

8

Easy Simba Tattoo

This simplified version of Simba from Disney’s “The Lion King” lets you to create a quickly-recognizable version of his character without any complicated lines, eyes, etc.

9

Small Aladdin Tattoo

Genie’s lamp from Disney’s “Aladdin” is a great way to practice packing in color. If it’s not completely consistent or fades a bit, the result will still be an appropriate “smoke effect.”

10

Superman Symbol Tattoo

Superman’s symbol is an iconic image...and it only uses a bold outline and two colors.

BONUS: 5 Easy, Funny Tattoos

1

Simple BFF Tattoo

These matching tattoos are easy to recreate due to the simple smiley faces and limited colors.

matching tattoo designs for couples

2

Simple Cat Tattoo

These matching tattoos are easy to recreate due to the simple smiley faces and limited colors.

3

Easy Funny Tattoo

This design uses simple shapes and no shading, as well as “stick figure” arms and legs, so you can create a funny tattoo...without struggling through any shading or blending.

easy tattoo of a banana

4

Simple Cat Tattoo

This black cat design allows you to show the full body of the cat without having to create any stripes, spots, etc.

5

Alien Best Friends Tattoo

These aliens are simple outline tattoos. The only thing needed for the eyes is to pack in black, and the cartoon hands keep you from having to put in lots of tiny details.

simple tattoos of dinosaurs

5 Sentimental Tattoos

1

Minimalist Memorial Tattoo

Lots of people get memorial tattoos, but creating realistic faces with a tattoo machine is incredibly difficult, especially for beginners. Instead, tattooing an important date can make a big idea into a simple tattoo. (Roman numerals recommended.)

small tattoos of Roman numerals

2

Key Tattoo

Keys are an easy way to memorialize an important place using just an outline drawing - if you go for a more cartoon look, the lines don’t have to be completely straight. (This idea works well for couples’ tattoos: first apartment, first home together, etc.)

3

Minimalist Sibling Tattoos

Simple sibling tattoos can utilize very basic shapes and shading.

simple tattoo designs for siblings
simple tattoo designs for siblings

4

Minimalist Travel Tattoo

A simple “travel tattoo,” the skyline of a city puts all the detail in the linework, but no other defining features in the buildings themselves, making it a beginner-friendly piece.

5

Easy State Tattoo

State outline tattoos  help commemorate a place without any complicated images. Simply place a heart to symbolize the capital city, “where we met,” where the person was born, etc.

Take Your Tattooing to the Next Level with Professional Designs

As a new tattoo artist, simple 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:

Looking for a tattoo apprenticeship?

Tattooing 101's Artist Accelerator 90 day program is the closest thing to a real apprenticeship

  • 500 video modules
  • Professional tattoo artist coaches
  • Private mastermind community
AUTHOR
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.

write a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

SUGGESTED ARTICLES FOR YOU

MORE FREE CONTENT FOR YOU
November 17, 2021

San Jose, CaliforniaSan Jose has an estimated 84 tattoo studios and we've rated ...

Tattoo Apprenticeships – San Jose
November 17, 2021

Indianapolis, IndianaIndianapolis has an estimated 74 tattoo studios and we've rated competition ...

Tattoo Apprenticeships – Indianapolis

Our Community

Join the Tattooing 101 Community today and get free, instant access to tools and resources that take you behind the curtain of all things tattooing. From apprentice to shop owner, we've got you covered.