Colour Tattoos

Colour Realism • Watercolour • Neo Traditional

Written by Sinéad Kennard

Everything you need to know about colour tattoos.

History of colour tattoos

Whilst all tattoos contain some form of pigment, black ink which is the most commonly used, has been around the longest. Some sources say that Egyptians and Inuits used colour ink thousands of years ago, but similarly to the Neo-Traditional style that often incorporates bold colour, this was more widely introduced in Japan in the 1600s. This made its way over to the US and the UK by the 1800s and only truly surged from the 1950s as coloured ink began to advance.


It is often said that colour ink tends to fade faster than its black ink counterpart, as it is lighter in colour, however this isn’t always the case. For example if you have colours tattooed that are similar to your skin tone, fading can often appear more noticeable. This compared to a solid black tattoo which would hold a much higher contrast against your skin tone. It is definitely worth being aware that your tattoo, whichever ink used, will not hold the same vibrancy in years to come and could require touch ups. As with any tattoo, its appearance will be impacted by how you look after it. It is important you follow our aftercare advice here, and if you’re worried about it fading quickly, avoid areas such as feet and hands that are exposed to additional friction. All ink can bleed or fade over time, so make sure your design is not too small so that it doesn’t look muddy, and express any concerns with your tattooist.

Skin Colour

It is also recommended to discuss with your tattooist in a consultation beforehand how a colour tattoo will work against your skin tone. For example on a lighter skin tone, colour may appear brighter, whilst on darker pigmented skin, the colours will show more muted, in particular blues, greens or purples.


Whatever tattoo you get there are of course risks, but at The Old Stables Tattoo studio we do not use any ink/products that are not regulated in the UK. You can always do your own research into coloured inks as some are not regulated by the FDA or in the EU as they contain metals or chemicals.

Style Adaptations

Colour choice is a fundamental component of any tattoo design and so it’s worth taking the time to think which colours will work best with your style preference. Colour ink is often used in Neo Traditional designs and the wonderful advantage is that there is no limit here. You/your artist will have a lot of creative freedom to explore as many hues and shades as you’d like to really accentuate the boldness and vibrancy of this style. One of the most common styles for colourful ink fans is watercolour tattoos which are a great way to have delicate, painted like/splashes flow on your skin. They also lend themselves well to nature based themes. Lastly, the intensity of realism tattoos coincides perfectly with colour ink to really make a piece pop. This style aims for photo-realistic designs with complex shading and highlighting to emphasise any 3-dimensional focal points.

Thinking of getting a colour tattoo?

Why not check out some of our favourite artists:

Lewis Vincent King – Bold and rich Japanese imagery with striking colour work.

Dom AKA DVA – Geometric and traditional designs with bold lines and vibrant colours.

Takko San – Blending blackwork, stipple shading, and pops of colour, often inspired by Anime, Manga, and pop culture.

Aaroné Realmao – Japanese tattoos and traditional/neo traditional with colour.


Book your colour tattoo with us!

You can book in for a tattoo with any of our specialist colour tattooists by reaching out to them directly on their instagram or for more details fill in our form on our contact page here. Alternatively you can email or call the studio to enquire about your next tattoo at and 01923 825198.

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Contact us at:

01923 825198

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