Realism Tattooing

Realism Tattoo Artists

Photorealism and realism tattoos closely mimic real life. They are either so true to the subject that the tattoo actually looks like a photograph or they have a creative flair with three-dimensional depth that makes the art appear to leap out from the skin. You can enjoy beautiful, hyper-realistic art on your skin in either color or black and grey. 

Everything You Need To Know About Realism Tattoos

Black and grey realism tattoos emerged from California’s Chicano prison population around the 1970s. Artists behind bars used whatever tools they had at their disposal whether that was pen ink or baby oil and sewing needles to create masterpieces on the skin of other inmates. Realism tattoos were able to become a reality after the invention of the camera and soon became a notable part of American pop culture.

Since then, realism tattoos have morphed and now artists experiment with different colors and subjects. The only mainstay you’re sure to see with every realism tattooer is a deep understanding of shadows, highlights, tone, depth, and emotion.

Realism Tattoo Preparation

When you think about preparing for a tattoo, your mind probably goes to getting a good night’s sleep, showering, drinking lots of water, and staying away from alcohol. But tattoo preparation actually starts when you call up your tattoo artist to start planning a design. Here are some things you should talk about with your 2 Crows Tattoo artist when you drop by our Palestine tattoo shop to start planning your next realism tattoo.

Bring A Photo

This tattoo style revolves around how true to life the art appears. To ensure your tattoo artist understands what you want and can incorporate maximum detail, bring a photograph of the subject you want them to draw or examples of other tattoos that you love.


A detailed realism tattoo can look nothing short of amazing– at first. Unfortunately, if you choose an elaborate design but want to keep your tattoo small, it can be hard to see the details from a distance and may appear muddy over time. The good news is that there are a multitude of small tattoo designs that look stellar. Whatever size or subject you want, just be sure to your tattoo artist about how large they think the design should be to ensure the art holds up over time.


The cool thing about realism tattoos is that if you can capture a subject with a camera, your artist can probably render some form of it on your skin. Heck, in some cases you don’t even need a photograph and your artist can rely on their knowledge of anatomy and pop culture to ink things like monsters and sci-fi moments from crazy CGI films. However, some of the most common subjects in black and grey realism tattoos and color realism tattoos include human and pet portraits, animals, and nature scenes.

Shades and Shadows

Unlike tattoo styles like American Traditional and Neo-Traditional, this art style doesn’t use solid lines. Instead, it relies on subtle shadows and highlights that carve out an image. If your design is susceptible to fading, your tattooer may recommend using more black to make the art bolder.Skin pigmentation, skin regeneration, and loss of skin elasticity can all affect the success of the design and how well it will hold up. Feel free to bring your artist a general concept or flushed out idea, but keep your mind open if they suggest an alternative way of executing it so you’ll be happy with your skin art for years to come.If you’re getting a color tattoo, make sure you ask your artist what it will look like as the tattoo ages and becomes a bit more desaturated. For those that prefer black and grey realism tattoos, ask your artist how you can help keep your design looking crisp and prevent any muddiness.

Time and Pain Tolerance

Time and pain tolerance While there are always some people who say that tattoos don’t hurt or that their session was so relaxing they fell asleep– that’s generally not the case. If you’re able to sit for your tattoo, you’ll walk away with some stunning body art, so make sure that the time it takes to complete is something you can handle and if not, that you’re prepared to schedule separate sessions to give your body a break. It’s true that all tattoos sting, but due to the detail-oriented nature of realism tattoos, you’ll likely have to spend more time under the needle than you would for other tattoo styles.

2 Crows Tattoo Shop in Palestine, Texas

Here at Two Crows, we know what it takes to pull off an incredible realism tattoo and our artists are here to walk you through the ideation process, safely tattoo beautiful body art, and guide you through aftercare to ensure you heal up properly and your tattoo looks amazing for years to come. Whether you’re looking to get your very first tattoo or you’re an ink veteran, give us a call and we’ll get to work planning your upcoming tattoo design!