Watercolor tattoos have recently become extremely popular amongst tattoo enthusiasts, and in-turn this means that there are naturally many questions that are regularly asked about them. One of the main ones that everybody is interested about is how quickly watercolor tattoos fade.
There are many skeptics who believe that tattoos should never be done in a watercolor style as they are not robust enough to stand the test of time - but it isn’t as simple as that.
Hopefully this article can help to shed some light on this argument and help to show you exactly what watercolor tattoos are, and how they are made.
It is true that watercolor tattoos with little to no black, and all soft colors will probably fade much quicker than a traditional tattoo, but here is the kicker… watercolor tattoos can and should use high contrast and a black base. That way if some of the colors begin to fade, there is still a skeleton to the piece and it will still read well as it ages. This can be accomplished by using line work or shading, in key areas to establish the design.
Although many people think that watercolor tattoos are created completely differently from ‘normal’ tattoos, and that they require a whole different tattooing setup - this is false.
Watercolor tattoos are created in the same way, using the same tools as regular tattoos, with the only differences being the styles and techniques of shading and coloring that are involved in the creation of these tattoos.
Whilst traditional tattoos are generally made up of many areas of solid colors that are all merged together to form one larger image; watercolor tattoos are created with much more gradual coloring.
These subtle gradients where the merging of colors is much less pronounced helps to create the desired look, which is usually to resemble the characteristics of a classic watercolor painting.
Another common argument is that the light colors will fade away. That is true in most cases. In the work that I do, I tend to use very bright bold colors, fading out to nearly skin tone. In most cases the lightest colors are the first to fade. I intentionally put the lightest colors where color matters least in the piece, that way if they do begin to fade, it will not hurt the integrity of the design. In fact, in a lot of pieces, slight fading makes the tattoo look even more like a watercolor painting, than when it was first done.
Many watercolor tattoo critics argue that these types of tattoos will not look good for very long as they begin to age due to being primarily made up of very soft colors, which also generally tend to lack any great amounts of contrast.
Whilst this is true, and lighter colors do tend to fade quicker than darker colors and blacks, a good artist who is experienced in creating watercolor tattoos should be able to greatly reduce the chance of watercolor tattoos becoming unrecognizable as they age by applying a good black base layer, and by creating much more depth in contrast.
These precautionary steps taken by the artist will enable the tattoo to still hold onto its ‘skeleton’, even if the lighter colors do begin to fade.
This means that it will still look much more like a tattoo and a lot less like a blurry patch of faded ink if it does begin to fade at all - and it will also be much easier to touch-up by an artist should you wish to give it another boost of life an