Photo Realistic Tattoos

Photorealistic tattoos 

Realistic or photorealistic tattoos are one of the more recent additions to tattoo styles. 

And they are popular today, whether you’re looking for a 3D portrait of your favourite celebrity, animals or flowers. Or, even, something more abstract.

Here, we’ll look at how this style evolved, what it involves, and which designs/techniques are most popular under this discipline.

What were Photorealistic tattoos inspired by?

The origins of this tattoo style are quite recent. They evolved from the photorealism branch of pop art, and the name of this genre really define the look. 

People, animals, nature scenes or whatever you decide to tattoo can look stunningly real like you took a photo of them. 

What does getting a Photorealistic tattoo involve?


The technique involves mapping the shadowing of actual photographs. The artist subtly uses black and white ink to create a 3D effect that’s instantly eye-catching. 

It can take a long time to learn how to do this, and each design involves a lot of planning, as well as technical skills. 

Which designs work best?

The designs and aesthetics of the look do vary. One of the most popular tattoos is the portrait design e.g. celebrity icons like David Bowie or Nelson Mandela. Movie scenes, paintings, photos, and classic tattoo symbols like flowers and animals are also popular.

Any design can look great in a photorealistic style, so it’s up to you. The 3D effect stands out in all. 

Black & White vs Colour

Realistic tattoos also lend themselves well to either blackwork or colour designs. Like a black and white photograph, portraits of people can look amazing in blackwork, which emphasises emotion. But colour tattoos in this style can also be especially impactful.

Do Photorealistic tattoos hurt more than other styles?

That’s a very subjective question! There’s no doubt that photorealistic tattoos can take longer than other styles, simply for the amount of shading needed to create the effect. 

But, the pain level can depend on your tolerance, the technique of your artist, and which part of the body the ink is being applied.

Do they last?

This is a bit of a contentious question about this style. Realistic tattoos don’t use outlines like other styles, and so the argument goes that they may fade. While the jury is out in this regard, we recommend that you do take extra care when getting a tattoo in this style. Listen to your tattoo artist and follow the right aftercare instructions to be safe. 

Can I get a Photorealistic tattoo at The Black Hat?

Yes, you can! We’re lucky to have one of Ireland’s finest artists in this style located right here. So why not contact us or better still call into and see us?