Originally tattoos didn’t feature much color because the selection of inks was limited. However, over recent years a multitude of inks has become available to create a full color palette. This article compiles one hundred photos of tattoos that stay true to the roots of the art by using little to no color. From black and gray pieces to completely black pieces this article will give you the inspiration for your next sans-color tattoo.

 

Sleeve Featuring Falling Deer

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While multiple images contribute to this sleeve the falling deer becomes the focal point because of its oddness and prominent placement.

Half Mandala Chest Piece

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A half mandala chest piece is rendered between and underneath the wearer’s breasts in this photo.

Cat Outline

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A simplified outline of a cartoon style cat is rendered on the wearer’s forearm.

Rose Vignette

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A stylized rose set against a black background encapsulated in a circular vignette is depicted on the wearer’s forearm.

Rose and Butterflies Sleeve

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Black and gray roses and butterflies are portrayed down the wearer’s arm in this sleeve.

Peter Pan Silhouette

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Black silhouettes of Peter Pan and the Lost Boys flying are portrayed on the wearer’s torso.

Flowers

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A collage of black flowers is depicted in the center of the wearer’s upper back.

Mountainscape

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A rough sketch of a mountainscape is portrayed on the wearer’s right ankle in black ink.

Abstract Arrow

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An abstract interpretation of an arrow is embellished with additional geometric shapes including circles and triangles.

Bird and Mandala Sleeve

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Another angle of the black and gray sleeve we saw earlier, this time the mandala rendered on the wearer’s hand becomes the focal point, as well as the swooping bird depicted on her shoulder.

Geometric Elephant

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An elephant head portrait is fragmented into different geometric shapes in this black tattoo rendered on the wearer’s shoulder.

Quote and Flowers Half Sleeve

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Flowers become the frame of a lengthy quote written in cursive in this black and gray tattoo illustrated on the wearer’s shoulder.

Compass and Cracking Skin

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This tattoo, located on the wearer’s arm, features the wearer’s skin chipping away to reveal a compass underneath.

Rose, Butterfly, and Triangle

East Iceland

Three tattoos are represented in black and gray ink on the wearer’s arm. The images include an abstract triangle, a rose, and a moth.

Skull Wearing Half Mask

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A skull without a lower mandible is portrayed wearing a mask vertically split in half.

Insect Vignette

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A nest is shown on the wearer’s upper arm while a vignette featuring a moth on a branch is pictured on the wearer’s forearm.

Flying Bird

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A stylized bird in mid-flight is depicted on the wearer’s upper left arm in black and gray ink.

Dragonfly Chest Piece

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A black and gray dragonfly is rendered at the bottom of the wearer’s rib cage.

Leg Sleeve

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The wearer’s left leg is entirely covered in black and gray tattoo portraying mandalas and optical illusions.

Camera Shutter

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A symbol representing a camera shutter is portrayed on the wearer’s left forearm in black ink.

Guitar Back Piece

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A guitar is rendered on the wearer’s back with the neck of the instrument extending up onto the wearer’s neck.

Abstract Paint Swirl

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This abstract piece features black and red ink portraying a paint swirl and indiscriminate lines on the wearer’s chest and arm.

Broken Lantern and Moth

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A broken lantern is portrayed above a moth with a skull design on its body. Both pieces are pictured on the wearer’s arm.

Barren Tree and Bird Silhouettes

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The silhouette of a barren tree and a flock of flying birds is rendered on the wearer’s forearm and wrist.

Barren Tree and Triangle

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A stylized depiction of a barren tree is framed by a thick black triangle in this tattoo portrayed on the wearer’s arm.

Mandala Sleeve

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A mandala pattern is embellished by microdermal piercings in this black tattoo sleeve.

Thigh Mandala

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A mandala devoid of shading is depicted on the wearer’s right thigh in this tattoo.

Hummingbird Silhouettes

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Three hummingbird silhouettes are accented by touches of vibrant color underneath the flapping wings. This simple piece uses a varied color palette and is inked onto the wearer’s forearm.

Photographer Sleeve

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Multiple photography related images are inked onto the wearer’s arm to create a sleeve.

Heart Shaped Lock

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A black, heart-shaped lock serves as the centerpiece of this tattoo featuring an elaborate design embellished with dangling beads.

Eye through a Keyhole

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An eye stares at the observer through a keyhole in the piece on the wearer’s thigh while a wolf in sheep’s clothing is seen underneath. Both pieces as well as a third indiscriminate piece are rendered in black and gray ink.

Abstract Lion Portrait

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A stylized portrait of a lion is rendered on the wearer’s upper right arm in black and gray ink.

Jar Full of Cosmos

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A mason jar with a note reading, “Far Away,” taped to it contains multiple celestial bodies in this tattoo rendered on the wearer’s arm.

Anchors

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A pair of anchors are pictured on the underside of the wearers’ hands in this black and gray tattoo set.

Upper Arm Band

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An ornate armband incorporates elements of a mandala into the design in this black and gray tattoo located on the wearer’s upper right arm.

Sleeve Featuring Knife

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A black and gray sleeve with a prominent knife and portrait of a woman is featured in this photo.

Abstract Circle Pattern Sleeve

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This tattoo, located on the wearer’s left arm, entirely blackens the wearer’s skin and uses the negative space to portray a series of circles.

Crescent Moon Mandala

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A black and gray mandala with a crescent moon centerpiece is rendered in the center of the wearer’s upper back.

Palm Scissors

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In addition to other images the wearer has a pair of scissors tattooed on her left palm. The piece foregoes shading and creates the image using bold outlines instead.

Jellyfish

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A stylized jellyfish is rendered on the wearer’s forearm in black and gray ink.

Cheetah Print

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Black cheetah print adorns the wearer’s left foot in this tattoo.

Insects and Scissor

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A bundle of stems, a moth, and scissors are images featured on the wearer’s arm in this photograph.

“Adventure.” 

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The word, “Adventure.,” is inked onto the wearer’s forearm in a courier font.

Mandala Inspired Back Piece

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A mandala inspired back piece extends up onto the wearer’s neck.

Dark Rose Shoulder Piece

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A black rose is given a stylish background in this tattoo rendered on the wearer’s shoulder.

Tree Stump and Forest Silhouette

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A tree stump is represented on one forearm while a forest silhouette is represented on the other.

Stylized Waves Vignette

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A vignette shows a stylized depiction of cresting waves and shining sunlight.

Branch and Leaves 

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A stencil on the wearer’s left forearm portrays a branch with leaves.

Abstract Paint Swirl Sleeve

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An abstract black paint swirl fills the space between the pieces on the wearer’s left arm.

Mandala Designs

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Tear drop shaped mandala designs are embellished with hanging beads on the wearer’s shoulders.

Mandala Forearm Sleeve

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A mandala inspired forearm and hand piece is embellished by a microdermal piercing on the wearer’s middle finger.

Mandala Forearm Design

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A dark mandala inspired piece adorns the wearer’s forearm and hand.

Landscape Armband

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An armband frames a panoramic landscape of pine trees and the moon.

Standing Bear

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A black bear reared up on its hind legs is featured in this forearm piece.

Stylized Wolf Portrait

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A stylized wolf portrait is rendered on the wearer’s forearm in black and gray ink.

Molar

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A molar is portrayed on the wearer’s left hand.

Stylized Landscape

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This beautiful tattoo, depicted on the wearer’s upper left arm, features a ringed planet shining down on glaciers floating in the ocean.

Dark Forearm Symbol

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A familiar symbol is represented on the wearer’s forearm in this tattoo.

Lion Eating a Skull

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This macabre piece shows a lion’s head biting down on a skull.

Bird on Forearm

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A rope bracelet and bird adorn the wearer’s wrist in forearm in this photo.

Lego Man

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The instructions for assembling a Lego man are rendered on the wearer’s forearm in black ink.

Stylish Back Piece

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A stylish back piece is rendered in the center of the wearer’s back in black and gray ink.

Full Sleeve

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The wearer’s body is adorned in multiple pieces including a bird perched atop a banner reading, “Refuse to lose,” on his chest.

Mandala Neck Piece

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A mandala inspired neck piece ends between the wearer’s shoulder blades in this tattoo.

Dark Anklets

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A pair of black bands are rendered on the wearer’s ankles in this tattoo set.

Abstract Ankle Piece

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An abstract crossed design is rendered on the wearer’s ankle in black ink.

Birds and Butterflies Half Sleeve

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A half sleeve comprised of butterflies, birds, and flowers is rendered on the wearer’s upper arm in black and gray ink.

Banksy Tribute

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A small girl watches as her red balloon floats into the distance in ode to Banksy rendered on the wearer’s right shoulder blade.

Heart and Red Triangle

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A realistic black and gray heart is accented by a red triangle and arrows signifying the direction of blood flow near the ventricles.

Oil Rig

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An oil rig is portrayed drilling into a heart shaped well in this tattoo depicted on the wearer’s chest.

Camera Setting

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A representation of a camera setting is rendered on the wearer’s arm in black ink.

Stylized Rose

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A stylized black and gray rose is depicted on the wearer’s forearm.

Leg Sleeve

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Multiple images contribute to the tattoos seen in this photograph.

Moth on a Branch Vignette

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A circular vignette contains the image of a hand holding a branch on which a moth is resting.

Heart Splatter

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 Black paint splatter takes the shape of a heart in this forearm piece.

Forearm Roses

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Colorless roses are rendered on the wearer’s right forearm.

Flowers on Heel

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An array of flowers are accented by microdermal piercings in this tattoo located near the wearer’s left heel.

Abstract Torso Piece

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An abstract black pattern runs down the wearer’s torso in this tattoo.

Honeycomb Sleeve

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An abstract honeycomb sleeve leads into a more complex pattern in this black and gray tattoo.

Dangling Beads Chest Piece

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A black and gray design starts on the wearer’s sternum, runs between her breasts, and fans out underneath her rib cage.

Stylized Cat Portrait

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A stylized cat portrait features a diamond on the animals forehead and is located on the wearer’s right forearm.

Interlocking Triangles

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The Germanic symbol the Valknut is depicted on the wearer’s hand in black ink.

Ornate Neck Piece

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Another elaborate neck piece descends the wearer’s back and ends between the wearer’s shoulder blades.

“Hands Remember”

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A hand is shown driving a dagger through another hand. The piece is surrounded by flowers and the quote, “Hands Remember.”

Ornate Armband

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An ornate armband is rendered on the wearer’s upper left arm.

“Yay!” Wrist Piece

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A black speech bubble features the word, “Yay!” The word was created with the negative space inside of the bubble.

Detailed Moth

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A touch of orange adds incredible depth to this moth piece located on the wearer’s torso.

Stylized Rose

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A stylized rose is rendered on the wearer’s forearm in black ink.

Flying Butterflies

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Three butterflies apiece adorn the wearer’s forearms.

Gradient Armbands

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Gradient black armbands adorn the wearer’s forearms in this photo.

Wolf in a Headdress

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A wolf in a headdress and a bird skull with antlers are the images portrayed on the wearer’s forearms in this photo.

Ship Half Sleeve

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A traditional depiction of a ship is featured on the wearer’s upper left arm.

Flowers and Feathers

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This tattoo, located on the wearer’s shoulder, depicts various flowers and feathers.

Forest Silhouette

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Depth is added to this forest silhouette by varying the color of the tree based on distance.

Bear and Woman

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An angry girl and bear riddled with arrows are featured in this tattoo set portrayed on the wearer’s forearms.

Abstract Mountain Lion Portrait

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This stylized portrait of a mountain lion features half of the cats head replaced with a landscape. The branches of the barren trees replicate the lines in the animal’s face while the moon represents the eye.

Octopus

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A black and grey octopus is rendered on the right side of the wearer’s stomach.

3/4 Sleeve

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A 3/4 sleeve features white accents that enliven the images in this photo.

Skull in Top Hat

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A skull is depicted wearing a black bowler hat on the wearer’s upper arm.

Stylized Landscape

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A stylized landscape shows pine trees towering in the background while felled trees lie in the foreground.

Flower Silhouette

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A single stem bearing multiple flowers is rendered on the right side of the wearer’s chest.

Moth and Flowers

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A moth, flowers, and a portrait of a woman comprise the sleeve seen in this photo.

Armbands

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Thin black lines wrap around the wearer’s forearm and wrist.

Cresting Wave Vignette

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Cresting waves are pictured inside of a circular vignette in this forearm tattoo.

Gradient Forest Silhouettes

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A gradient collection of dots turns into a forest silhouette on the wearer’s forearm.

Circular Mandala

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A mandala design featured inside of a circle is rendered in the center of the wearer’s back.

Hand Holding Flowers

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A hand holding a pair of flowers is featured on the wearer’s upper right arm.

3/4 Sleeve Armbands

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Simple black designs are featured on the wearer’s arms in this photograph.

Octopus in a Cage

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An octopus trapped inside of a cage is depicted on the wearer’s leg.

Finger Buck

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A buck is represented on the wearer’s middle finger while the animal’s horns extend up onto the wearer’s hand.

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