Let’s face it – not everyone is happy with their tattoos. There are so many reasons someone could have a tattoo they want covered – it’s poorly done, it was a spur of the moment decision, or the desig...

How To Design A Killer Cover Up Tattoo

Let’s face it – not everyone is happy with their tattoos. There are so many reasons someone could have a tattoo they want covered – it’s poorly done, it was a spur of the moment decision, or the design simply doesn’t resonate with them anymore.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Luckily, tattoo cover ups are a huge market in the industry, and there are thousands of tattoo artists out there with experience doing cover up tattoos. But how do you design a cover up tattoo that’s not only going to kick ass, but also cover up the tattoo you don’t want to see anymore?

Size Matters

Cover up of Script Tattoo with a Rose

You’re going to need to consider the size of your cover up tattoo. In order to fully cover the original work, the size of your new design needs to not only overlap it, but fully take it over. This is often the case with a cover up tattoo that blends with the original – the size of the artwork is going to expand.

German Shible, a tattoo artist out of Toronto, explains that you should “be prepared to go larger than the original. Going larger will help blend the existing tattoo and allow the artist to be more creative with layout, colours, and subject matter”.


Cover up of a Snake Tattoo

The darkest part of your cover up tattoo will need to be used to cover up the bulk of your old tattoo, so keep that in mind. When the new ink for a cover up is added, it doesn’t go over top of the ink from your old tattoo, it mixes with it to create a new color. Darker shades will overpower other colors here, so if you’re adding blue to red, for instance, or vice versa, it’s going to follow the laws of primary colors and make a purple shade. German emphasizes that “colours will be limited in range, since lighter colours will show the existing tattoo through them”. If you’re going for the same colors in your new tattoo, then you’ll just need darker shades of the same colors for successful coverage.

If you’re covering up a black ink tattoo with another black ink design, the color won’t change, but your chosen design will need to be darkest and biggest in the area that’s over top of your original tattoo. Getting a cover up tattoo doesn’t mean you have to go for a black ink design, though. Artists can use all sorts of colors, shading, and blending to create a whole new tattoo that completely covers your old one.

Find Inspiration

Lion Cover Up with Color Tattoo

Find some images of things that you would potentially like your cover up tattoo to imitate. Using your ideas, you and your chosen tattoo artist can come up with a design that’s going to cover your original tattoo, and that you’re going to love. You want to choose a design that’s going to be bigger than your current tattoo, and keep in mind the shading options.

German advises that “the subject is where your input is critical; be sure to pick something that will resonate with you for years to come…the design can be customized to best cover up the existing tattoo”. Your artist can advise you on the technical aspects of your cover up, but you need to choose a design idea that you’re going to love first.

Some potential ideas include:

  1. Any animal or mythological beast that has scales or feathers is a good tattoo cover up idea. Asian-style dragons, koi fish or any kind of fish that can be darkly shaded works well. Tattoo ideas with lots of detail or complex line-work are great for camouflaging old tattoos, such as birds and biomechanical tattoos.
  2. Since names are one of the most popular things to cover, avoid getting your new tattoo with a new name and making the same mistake. A good alternative is altering the name with a slight design to one of the letters or adding on to the name with further letters i.e. turning ‘Jane’ to ‘Jaded’.
  3. Use the current design and incorporate it into the new tattoo. Re-work an old tattoo by adding features like blush on cheeks, re-strengthening weak lines, or adding in hair or the illusion of hair on a person. Just remember that all tattoo cover ups will have to be significantly larger than the original tattoo, so for the second go around it is integral that you love your tattoo and be happy with it forever.

Choose An Artist With Cover Up Experience

Not every tattoo artist is going to have experience doing cover up tattoos, but finding someone who knows what they’re doing isn’t difficult. Ask around and do some research on artists in your area who have a good reputation for inking cover ups. The last thing you want is a cover up tattoo that doesn’t cover your original, and that you dislike even more than the one you’re trying to cover.

Elephant Cover up of a Tribal Tattoo

Picking the right artist is the most important factor in designing a killer cover up, because they know what they’re doing. They have experience in covering up all kinds of designs, colors, and sizes of tattoos, and you want to choose someone you can trust. Our artists have experience designing amazing cover up tattoos for a variety of clients, and they work with you to make sure it’s the perfect design for you. They’ll give you advice, tell you what will and won’t work, and help you create an ideal cover up tattoo that you’re going to love for years.

Detailed Forest Cover Up Tattoo

Any tattoo can be covered up, so just because you don’t love your current tattoo doesn’t mean you’re stuck with it. Some darker, larger tattoos may need to be lightened via laser removal beforehand, but it can still be covered by a new design. By making sure to choose a tattoo artist that has experience inking cover ups you’re on your way to getting a killer cover up done. Working with them to see if your design will work to cover your original tattoo is the best way to get the result you really want.

Did you get your free custom tattoo design quote?