How to Draw Coverup Tattoos

A coverup is a tattoo you place on top of an existing tattoo to “cover” it up. When designing a coverup tattoo, you have to make sure that the new design hides the old design well enough that it is impossible to see after the new tattoo heals.

If a coverup is not done correctly, the old tattoo will show through, creating an even bigger problem for the client.

In this article, we’ll break down exactly how to go about drawing a coverup. We’ll explain how to:

  • Choose a good coverup design
  • Line up the old tattoo with a new design so it’s easier to hide
  • Distract the eye so the old tattoo can’t be seen through the new one

Coverup Tattoo Design Tutorial

Coverups can be tricky when you’re first getting into them because there is so much going on. For example, when you’re drawing a tattoo design, you should be designing with the flow of the body. When you’re drawing a coverup design, you need to work with the body’s flow and the positioning of the old tattoo.  


We recommend that new tattoo artists do not attempt coverups. They are already more difficult than a normal tattoo, and a mistake will be almost impossible to cover up a third time without the client getting laser tattoo removal first.


Take a Picture of the Tattoo You’re Covering Up

Because you want to draw your tattoo design over their original tattoo, you will need a picture of the design you’re covering.


Pick a New Design

Of course, you’ll work with your client to decide on a new design. However, because you’re drawing a coverup, the style and designs you can do will be limited. 

For example, a portrait tattoo or a design that is mostly light colors will not work as a coverup because the old tattoo will show through after everything is healed. A tattoo style that uses bold lines and colors (like Neotraditional) will make doing a coverup much easier.

Flowers and Animals are Great Coverup Choices

A good rule of thumb is that anything living works great as a coverup. 


Sunflowers are popular for coverups because you can hide a lot inside of the dark center. 

For example, if your client wants to cover their tattoo and they also want a larger piece, you could incorporate sunflowers with a few other flowers to create a unique half-sleeve. Or, you could use dark leaves to cover an old tattoo. In this case, you can stencil the flower and then draw the leaves directly onto the skin to make sure they flow well with the body.


Unless your client is getting some of the old design lasered, your new design will need to be darker than the original.


Bird feathers, bear or wolf fur, etc. also work well for coverups because all the dark texture helps hide the tattoo beneath. 

For example, dark crow feathers can help hide saturated lines, as well as any dark shading.


Don’t draw animals from memory. Use a photograph to inspire your design so you can be sure your dimensions are correct.


Draw a New Design on Top of the Original

Pull the picture up in Procreate and draw your new design over the old one, making sure to completely overlap every area that needs to be covered. The new design should be 2-3x the size of the original. 

You can turn down the opacity of your new design to make sure it will completely cover the old tattoo. 

Line Up Your New Design

Once you’ve picked a design, line it up with the old one so it is more easily hidden. 

After you finish drawing, you can then print your design off to size.

Pro Tip:

If you do not have an iPad, you can use tracing paper to go over their tattoo and then draw directly on top of that.

Use Light Areas as Much as Possible

The trick to a good coverup is to make it look like it’s not a coverup at all. You don’t want to make the fact that it’s a coverup obvious by just blacking out the whole tattoo. Instead, use any areas where the old tattoo has skin breaks or light areas so you can show a light source in your new design.

Focus the Eye Away From the Coverup

The most detailed and interesting parts of your coverup should be in an area that is not covering up the old tattoo. For example, you might put more detail in the beak and face of the crow to distract away from the feathers that are covering up the old tattoo. 

This makes the coverup less noticeable.

Prepare for a Tattooing Career with the Artist Accelerator Program

Learning how to draw coverup tattoos is an exciting step in your journey, but it can also be pretty eye-opening to how difficult tattooing can be. Without the right knowledge, it’s impossible to level up your skills and become a professional tattoo artist. 

However, finding the straight-forward information you need to progress is difficult. And with so much out there online, it’s hard to avoid picking up bad habits from incorrect and outdated resources.

This is one of the biggest struggles new tattooers face, and too many talented artists have given up their goal of getting into tattooing because of the years it would take to unlearn their bad habits. 

That’s why aspiring artists are learning to tattoo with the Artist Accelerator Program’s structured course. As a student, you learn every step of the tattooing process from professional artists with the experience and advice you need to build your skills and create incredible tattoos. 

With the Artist Accelerator, you can stop wasting time searching through incorrect information. You just get the clear, easy-to-understand lessons you need to start improving fast… along with support and personalized feedback from professional artists in our online Mastermind group.

Over 2500 students have already gone through the course, with many of them opening up their own studios. If you want to join them and learn the skills you need to start tattooing full time faster…

Click here to learn more about the Artist Accelerator Program.

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
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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