10 3D Tattoo Themes That Take Your Tattoo To The Next Level

Tattoos are known to be forms of body art. You see it now more often than ever with even men and women being open to having permanent ink on their skin. Tattoos are also known for recognizing subcultures. Take, for example, the goth subculture. You can easily identify a person if they’re into goth, art, nature, or minimalism with just their tattoos.

Introducing the 3D Tattoos

2D tattoos are quite popular. In fact, 2D tattoos are so yesterday because if not for their color and shading, they look very plain over time. Of course, the tattoo won’t be meaningless to the owner since they’re the ones who put meaning to their tattoos. Nonetheless, it’s always an option to try something different, something with more depth, literally.

Introducing 3D tattoos. 3D tattoos, unlike 2D tattoos, add depth to its images, If the latter only has height and width, the former adds depth to it making it look more alive and animated. Depending on the design, you can even make a tattoo look like it’s moving. Just look at these tattoos.

Why Get 3D Tattoos?

If you’re only exploring other designs to make your tattoo more unique, then it’s great timing to end up reading about 3D tattoos. Here are a few reasons why it’s worth trying.

1. It’s unique.

Just looking at these tattoos, you already know that 3D tattoos bring something more to the table. Take this flower design. If it were a 2D tattoo, you’re going to get a simple-looking rose that is just like any rose. But as you can see here, the depth has made the flower look more serious and different.

And what about this pizza that looks like it was just lifted from the box?

2. It makes a tattoo look more alive.

Thanks to the depth of 3D tattoos, something that’s inanimate becomes animated. As you can see in this collection of gears and wires, the 3D-ness of the design makes it look like it was caught in the act of spinning and working. This kind of movement is what a lot of people want from a tattoo because it just adds a lot of life into it.

3. It doesn’t look flat.

You have probably heard of paintings and artworks that look so real that you want to reach out to it. There are a lot of times that you will fool others making them think that there’s an actual ladybug on your hand like this tattoo right here.

Of these nails that are painfully piercing through your skin…

You can even fool other people that there’s a new line of Converse shoes that are peep-toes. Imagine fooling others about actually wearing peep-toe Converse sneakers. Now that would be a laugh worth having!

4. You can have more flexibility with color.

Okay, you now get it. 3D tattoos look more alive and look as if they’re right on top of your skin. But other than that, what sets it apart is the flexibility you have in terms of color.

This rose tattoo looks as if it was just watered and a camera was able to capture the drops of water resting on the petals. The gradient colors of red and green have made the rose look as fresh as possible. And over time, even if the colors fade, the rose will still maintain an “alive” image because of the monochromatic look.

5. It’s very realistic.

2D tattoos won’t fool you. You already know even from afar that the tattoo is fake and that it’s just a flat image of something else. However, this isn’t the case for 3D tattoos. The tattoos below look so real that people just want to reach out and feel if your skin has changed its texture.

12 Themes For Your 3D Tattoos

So now you’re convinced that a 3D tattoo is worth the hype and detail. What other tattoos can you now make with this concept? Here are 10 themes that can inspire you.

Gory and Horrifying Tattoos

Most of the time, you only get to see gore in zombie movies or shows that flood the television during Halloween. But if gore is something you love seeing, then you can always get a tattoo that’s as real as the ones you see on TV. Take a look at these designs:

This tattoo design is borderline gore and horror. It’s probably not a good sight for children, but if this becomes something that adds to your character or your branding, then why not?



One of the best themes for 3D tattoos is portraits. A portrait is an image showing the face, neck, and shoulders of a person. They are often seen in paintaings and now you can do it on your skin. Although be warned, with a lot of attention needed to detail here, your tattoo might cost more than you expected.

If you will notice, most of the portraits you see on houses and frames do not have any color. Unlike other sceneries and images, a portrait sometimes gives more depth when it is just in black and white. Look at this toddler being created. His face, although doesn’t have the rosy cheeks a kid usually has, gives more expression than if you have the skin colored in a certain way.

And this old woman who looks like she is on the verge of crying. Just looking at her makes you feel that she’s in pain and is about to cry. The darkness of the shades already gives a central theme – sadness – and you needn’t add color to make the viewer feel heavy.

And if you don’t want something to look so dark, you can always add color.


If dark and serious images are not your thing, you can always choose a much lighter object. Take a look at these butterfly images. They’re just so light and beautiful that any person seeing them might wish that they were real instead.

And if you aren’t aware, butterflies are revered symbols in a lot of cultures. In some Asian countries, butterflies are known to carry souls. Superstition has it that when you see a butterfly in a funeral, the butterfly carries with it the soul of the deceased person.

Butterflies also symbolize hope and life. This is due to the fact that butterflies start as caterpillars that undergo through a growing stage and end up being wrapped up by a cocoon. After enough time has passed, the caterpillar no longer emerges as the unappealing insect. Instead, it emerges as a beautiful creature with lots of colors like these tattoo designs.

Butterflies In Flight

Since you’re already into 3D tattoos, why not design a butterfly that is on its way to fly? This tattoo design beautifully captures a butterfly that is about to take flight and even the shadows that it created added more “movement” to the design.


Flowers are also a common theme when it comes to tattoos. Interestingly, it’s not only women who get flower tattoos. If you will notice, there are also men who put flowers but those flowers are usually roses. This is because some flowers look more feminine than the rest. Say, for example, sunflowers. Sunflowers are more commonly used by women even if they’re not supposed to be attached to any gender.

One of the most common meanings of roses is love. However, the meaning of the rose varies depending on the kind of color it is in. This particular rose is not given any color, and yet it looks like it symbolizes love and attachment. But even this rose doesn’t just look like any other rose. There’s more character given because of the shading. And the rose drawn here looks close to an actual real-life rose.

While this rose barely looks peach because it was easily blended with the color of the person’s skin tone. The tattoo below shows you that not only women can make use of this delicate flower. In fact, even if flowers were considered delicate and feminine, it gives strong a symbolism and meanings across all genders.

One example of rose symbolism is loyalty. A white rose is a symbol of one’s undying affection for someone and it is often given by men to women.

On the other hand, another twist you can give with a rose tattoo is the kind of texture the petals have. Look at the above tattoo. Unlike the other rose tattoos you’ve seen in this post, this particular rose has texture in its design. It makes you want to touch the rose and feel its petals because the petals look soft and powdery.

Geometric Designs

When it comes to teasing the eyes with movement and texture, there’s nothing like geometric shapes and lines. When designed properly, geometric figures can give illusions, like a bent picture or a changing picture. You’ve probably seen photos like this scattered across the web and wondered how these were made. Well, you can always consult your tattoo artist on how they can create an illusion from a tattoo.

The picture above is made up of different lines and barely any shapes and yet it has created an illusion. The tattoo looks so real that it looks like a carved body of a vase or a cylinder. But as you have guessed it, it’s really just a tattoo.

Unlike the one above, this tattoo does not only trick you into believing it’s 2D, but it also gives an illusion. The lines look like there are two holes in both sides since the curved lines look warped towards the center of each of the opposite sides.

And this illusion too.

These geometrical tattoos are known to create optical illusions that make the viewer think that there is movement or that there are dips in the image even if it’s just a plain 2D tattoo. A note of advice, though, is that if you aren’t comfortable being touched in certain areas, don’t put your optical illusion tattoos there as people can be really tempted to touch this kind of tattoo design.

The Eyes

When it comes to eye tattoo designs, people either love it or hate it. For those who don’t exactly hate it, they will at least feel uncomfortable having an eye on their skin. 2D tattoo designs might not be scary, but the 3D styles look very close to the real thing that some people just freak out about it.

But even if 3D eye tattoos look scary, they still look beautiful. This eye tattoo captures the eye in its most natural form. It just so happen that it’s on your skin. Looking at this tattoo very closely, you see that depending on the design and the other elements on the tattoo, an eye tattoo can either be scary or beautiful.

If you are one of those who find eye tattoos scary or weird, then you aren’t alone. With this kind of tattoo, surely, you’re not the only one who will get freaked out about this uncanny replica of the girl’s real eyes.

Human eyes are not the only ones that can be made into 3D. Look at this tattoo right here. Can you guess which animal this pair of eyes belongs to?

Or what about these pair of eyes?


For more masculine designs, you can also get sci-fi-themed 3D tattoos. Actually, if there is any design that needs to be in 3D, then that should be sci-fi.

If you aren’t familiar on what sci-fi is, here is a short explanation. Sci-fi, or science fiction, is a genre that deals with imaginative ideas often related to futuristic themes and technology. Think along the lines of Tron.


When it comes to tattoos, face it, a lot of other people are going to want to have an animal tattoo in at least one of their tattoos. This can be because a lot of people become attached to their pets or that animals are great symbolism of a lot of different things.

A tiger is a popular animal tattoo among men because the tiger is a symbol of strength and power. In reality, the tiger is known to be one of the fiercest predators in the jungle, hence, the symbolism.

Unlike the tiger that is all high and mighty, the elephant, on the other hand, is seen as a symbol of wisdom and longevity. Elephants live a relatively longer life than most mammals and even if they don’t exactly run free in the wild, they are still able to maintain their strength and power. They are not simple mammals that predators can easily kill.

Here are some animals that you might take an interest in:


Although they’re not exactly real animals (it’s still unclear whether or not a dragon exited in earth), dragons can be an option if you don’t want to stick with traditional animals. In China, the dragon is a symbol of strength, power, wisdom, and good luck. For something that never existed on earth, this mythical creature has become one of the most powerful beings that man have always clung to.

A dragon is also a great 3D tattoo idea if you are a fan of Game of Thrones. This tattoo below is a dragon caught in flight. The shadow that the dragon is casting emphasizes its power even more.


Not a fan of animals and mythical creatures? Don’t worry, you can always go for insects. Yes, if butterflies are too girly and delicate for you, then why not try insects? Most insects are scary, yet they are very masculine in nature. At the same time, small insect tattoos are great for small areas of your body. But look at these designs! It seems like insects aren’t just small creepy-crawlees to them.

Cartoon Characters

Got a favorite cartoon character that you’ve loved since you were a child? If you want to remember them from time to time, then you can conver them a tattoo. Not only will they look real, but they will also be fun to look at. It’s important to know by now that just because tattoos are permanent, doesn’t mean that you always have to attach a very complex meaning to it. It can be as simple as them being cute.

Check out this Coco-inspired face tat!

You can also be your own superhero! Take a look at these interesting chest designs.


And lastly, you have your compass. Literally, a compass is supposed to give you direction. It’s what you consult if you’re in the middle of nowhere and there isn’t any Internet available or any human being to ask. In movies and in shows, you often see people consult a compass when they’re out in the sea or when they’re in the woods. Take a look at these compass designs.

A plain compass could be too simple and boring for you, so if you want to make a more personalized design for your compass, you can do something like the photo below. What the person did was not just to take the 3D tattoo to the next level – complete with shading, layering, and all – but to also add elements that are obviously important to him.

You can also add song lyrics like the one here:

The Least And Most Painful 3D Tattoo Placements

So you’re ready to present your tattoo design to your artist. But where do you plan to put it? The first thing you need to think about when thinking about the placement is pain¬†tolerance. There are areas in your body that can tolerate the piercing needle. However, there are also places that will make you very uncomfortable or in pain.

The Least Painful Tattoo Placements

1. Arms

Whether it’s the upper arm or the forearm, a 3D tattoo placed in this area is not going to be painful. At the very least, it will hurt a bit, but it’s nothing you can’t handle. To people who are veterans, this place is one of the easiest areas to get a tattoo. You can attribute this to the many muscles found on your arms.

Take a look at this tattoo. The whole tattoo covers the whole arm of the person until the shoulder. Even if the arm is not a painful area, the shoulder is a different story since the skin here is very close to the shoulder bone.

2. The Back

Because the area of the back is often muscular, there will be times that you won’t feel the needle. Take a look at these designs that almost occupied the whole back.

3. Legs

Just like the arms, the legs offers one of the least painful areas to get a tattoo. This tattoo here, although very detailed, will barely hurt because the thighs have one of the largest muscles in the body.

The Most Painful Tattoo Placements

If there are least painful areas, there are also the most painful areas where you can possibly put your tattoo.

1. Spine

Yes, the back is muscular, but the spine isn’t. This is why getting a tattoo here requires a lot of courage. The skin along the spine is very close to the bone even if the skin itself isn’t thin. The area is painful too because there are a lot of veins in this area. If you plan on getting a tattoo here, pick a tattoo artist that knows how to do back tattoos.

2. Chest

The chest is also a painful area to get a tattoo because this is close to the ribcage. Also, some people have sensitive chests.

3. Ribcage

Just below the chest is the ribcage where it’s also very painful to get a tattoo. The skin here is very close to the bone, so at the very least you’ll feel a slight discomfort. The skin here is thin as well.

4. Foot and Ankle

The foot and the area around the ankle is one of the most painful areas as well especially if you can almost see your nerves here.

5. Skull / Neck

6. Wrist

Like the tattoo on ankles and the foot, tattoos on the wrist can be very painful. Take a look at these wrist tattoos.

What do you think?

Written by Lei


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