What Tattoo Artists wish you knew about White Tattoos
Many believe that white tattoos are actually white, as in this picture. That’s why I thought I’d explain a little about how white tattoos actually work and what to expect when you get a tattoo made with white ink in your skin. For this picture is not a real white tattoo but a temporary white tattoo, like a sticker that gets washed off.
Ink under skin
I can not say this often enough, where the ink actually sets in the skin. Here I will explain with a few illustrative images:
When you get tattooed, the needle inserts ink throughout the area from the surface, the Epidermis, and down to the middle skin layer, the Dermis. Thus a fresh tattoo is very fresh and colorful, crisp and clear. But then the skin heals over the tattoo and the ink “sinks” down to the Dermis and disappears from the surface. Thus, your own skin and your own pigments will lie over the ink, on top of the tattoo itself, and make it less clear and powerful in color.
As you can see on the white tattoo in the picture below, you see that the white ink no longer looks white after a few months. It’s more your own skin color, but with a slightly brighter tone, and with a little yellow tone.
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White is more visible if you use it next to other colors, as they will help each other become more visible. That is what we call a contrast. When opposites make each other more visible.
Here the tattoo artist has used white as an effect on top of the black, to create a more exciting pattern. It looks very white when it’s brand new, while in the picture it’s germinated, and thus less visible.
But I think it’s still a nice and exciting effect, and much more exciting than completely black. You can also repeat this process several times to get an even whiter effect, but remember that it will never turn out to be completely white.
Next to black, white will look very white, as it becomes a visual contrast, called the complimentary contrast.
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A Complementary Contrast is when you put two opposite colors next to each other. They will then emphasize each other and make each other seem stronger. Opposite colors are, for example, yellow and purple, green and red, or orange and blue, and all of the mixes in between. They are simply on opposite sides of the color circle. Black and white are not in the circle, but it goes without saying that black and white are opposites, and thus also a contrast.
Look at the clock image below. Keep your eyes on the + in the middle until you see what happens to the void moving. It is no longer a void, but a color. Which? Well, the complementary color of pink (which is light red), namely green.
It is also because of this complementary effect that old black tattoos look blue. Why do you think so? Well, because if you would put your own skin tone into the circle of colors, what color is the closest? Most likely in the area of orange. And what is the contrast to orange? Yes, it’s blue. The eye fools you to see what you see. Tattoo ink does not change colors, there is no possibility for this.
Effect and Detail
Tattooing white, in my opinion, works best as an effect in a larger subject. Then you don’t need a lot of white ink either before it gets a white effect. Here are a couple of examples where I have used white as an important effect in the motive:
If you still want to get a completely white tattoo, I think you should do it. But just keep in mind that it will never stay bright white, but a slightly lighter tone than your own complexion. If you have very light skin, it will most likely not show at all.
Do you have a white tattoo? Comment below!
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