Do you have a special photo that you want to keep with you forever in a personal and meaningful way? Then you might be in the market for a Realism tattoo. Realism is a highly specialized tattoo and ar...

How to Design a Realism Tattoo

Do you have a special photo that you want to keep with you forever in a personal and meaningful way? Then you might be in the market for a Realism tattoo. Realism is a highly specialized tattoo and artistic style, so it’s essential to find a tattoo artist who has skill with this particular kind of tattooing before making any moves. We looked into Realism to find out where it came from, how to get tattoo ideas for this style, and what some of the most commonly requested Realism tattoos are. Read on to find out more about this alluring tattoo style.

What is Realism?

Realism isn’t just a tattoo style, it’s a style of art which stems from the Realism Art Movement of the 1850s. This artistic movement started in France, and was meant to protest the romanticism of high-end subject matter that was all the rage during the Romantic period, the previous artistic era. The focus of Realism was to showcase the beauty in ordinary, everyday items and people, showing the truth and authenticity of the basic subject matter in an artistic way. As a tattoo style, Realism is one that will never just be a fad. There’s a ton of depth and detail in a Realism tattoo design, the designs are based on real-life people and places, and it’s not a skill set that every tattoo artist possess, so it’s important to find a tattooist who’s experienced with this style.

There are a few different specializations of Realism that have developed over time, but they all fall under the broad category of ‘Realism’. Those particular genres include color realism, photorealism, and hyperrealism. Depending on what you’re looking for, and what you want to incorporate into your design, these are the specific options that fall under the Realism tattoo style.

Realistic Woman Tattoo

Photorealism most often depicts portraits of people, which is done by adapting a photograph into a tattoo. These are frequently done in black and grey ink, because it’s not always possible to copy the exact colors and pigments that are shown in a photograph, especially if it’s an old photo.

Hyperrealism is a seen by many artists as a step up from photorealism – it’s an improvement of that style. Details are finer, and all of the elements from the photo or source of inspiration are enhanced to create a super 3D effect.

Color Realism is exactly what it sounds like – realistic artwork done using color. Artists use the light sources and the natural colors that are included in the subject of inspiration, for example, a flower. That flower is drawn exactly as it’s seen, using color and shading to fully capture the beauty of the said flower. Color Realism takes the realistic aspects of any given subject matter, and enhances them using color.

Key Elements of a Realism Design

It’s not hard to identify when you’re looking at a Realism tattoo. The artwork will literally appear as though it’s a photograph that’s been transferred onto the skin; the image will look exactly like the thing that inspired it. There are no surrealist aspects, no abstract additions to the main focus of the tattoo, it’s just, quite simply, a photographic-like image on skin.

In terms of the specific categories of Realism that a design could fall under, that’s simple as well. If the tattoo is photo quality, it’s photorealism. If there’s color in the piece, it’s color realism. If the tattoo is a mind-blowingly realistic image, chances are that it’s a hyperrealist piece. Essentially, if the tattoo looks just like the thing it’s imitating, it falls under the category of Realism.

Where to Start with your Design

Realism tattoos are based on real-life subjects or objects, so find something or someone that resonates with you. Items in nature, like flowers or plants, can be a source of great inspiration for Realism tattoos, especially color Realism, specifically. Portraits are a common choice for this style of tattoo, and if you already have a person in mind that you want commemorate with ink, you just need to find a photo you want the artist to emulate. With Realism tattoos, it’s best to start by finding that source of inspiration, whether it be a photo or item, and then take the next step.

That next step is deciding where the tattoo will go on your body. Your artist will need to know this so they can draw up the tattoo design working within the boundaries of the area you choose. Some Realism designs need more space, to allow for every detail to be included, while others can be done on a smaller scale. It’s generally not advised to get a realistic portrait tattoo done as a small design, because there isn’t enough room to give the design the detail it deserves.

Most Popular Realism Designs

Brad Pitt Fight Club Realistic Tattoo

Basically anything can be taken and made into a Realism tattoo, but there are some ideas that are much more common than others. Portraits, as we mentioned, are a huge source of inspiration for Realism tattoo designs of all categories – color, photorealism, and hyperrealism. They’re often chosen as a means to honor someone special in one’s life. Color Realism tattoos are a popular choice for flower tattoos, especially roses. There’s a lot of color and texture that can be added to these designs, which make for a beautiful, photo quality image. Skulls, animals, pets, and landscapes are a few other popular Realism tattoo design ideas.

Realism tattoos spawn from the Realism Art Movement, and has only been improved upon since then. Practically any source of inspiration can be done in the realistic style, but portraits are the top choice for this particular genre of tattoos. It’s essential to check the portfolios of tattoo artists before you book your inking appointment, because this is a tough style to master – not every artist is able to successfully do this kind of work, even if they think they can. Realism tattoos are a great way to honor something, or someone, that’s truly meaningful to you.

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