Changing Tattoo Colors: What Are Your Options?


When it comes to changing tattoo colors, the options you have are very limited as you cannot ever take color out of a tattoo; you can only add color in. This means that you change the color, you would need to blend a new color with an existing color in your tattoo, and that can be very complicated. So, what are your options when it comes to changing tattoo colors?

 tattoo on thigh changing tattoo colors big color
One of tattoos with color elements made by me

You can blend two compatible colors, one existing color in your tattoo and one new color being added to your tattoo, together to create a new color in your tattoo. Or, you can add a darker shade of the existing color to your tattoo, e.g., add dark blue ink to existing light blue ink.

Changing the color in a tattoo is not an easy thing to do, and in many cases, it is not even a possible thing to do. As was mentioned above, it is hard to change the color of a tattoo because you can only ever add color to an existing tattoo color; you can never take the color out to change it. Let us that a closer look at this.

What Are Your Options For Changing The Colors Of A Tattoo That Is A Work In Progress?

tattoo on leg changing tattoo colors
One of tattoos with color elements made by me

This would depend on what you mean by changing colors halfway through a tattoo; do you want to stop using the color that your artist has been using and start with a new color on the rest of your tattoo? Or do you want to go back and change all existing color to a new color instead?

Stopping One Color And Continuing With Another

Although this may look really weird depending on the design of your tattoo, in theory, you can definitely stop using one color of ink halfway through a tattoo in progress and continue using a new color for the remainder of the tattoo.

Your artist may advise against it if they believe it will ruin the tattoo and may make it look bad, but the decision is up to you at the end of the day.

There is also a chance that this change in color may come out looking really cool and making your tattoo’s design look new and unique – especially if your artist manages to blend the old color into the new color, so it looks like one color is fading out and a new color is fading in.

Changing All Color To Be A Brand New Color

Changing all of the color of a tattoo to be an entirely new color is a really complicated situation and may not be possible depending on the colors that you have already used and the color you want to change over to.

tattoo on forearm changing tattoo colors
One of tattoos with color elements made by me

In order to make the whole tattoo one color after half the tattoo has been done in one color and then you change your mind about the color, you would need to go over all the existing color with the new color and hope that it takes to it well. The steps you would need to take to make this happen is one of two things:

  1. You could finish the tattoo in the first color that you chose, and that way, when you go over all of the tattoo in the new color, whatever the new color looks like will be consistent throughout the whole tattoo.
  • You could stop using the old color and go over where the old color was applied with the new color. Then, continue to use the new color going forward to complete the tattoo and hope that you will not notice the difference in tone from where the previous color was to where there was no color yet.

Changing all the color in a tattoo to be an entirely new color will only be possible in some situations as it will entirely depend on what your old color is, what the new chosen color is, and if it is possible for these colors to be blended.

For example, you cannot blend anything with purple – anything added over purple or anything you may add purple to may just come out looking very dark, and hard to tell what color it is.

It will also not work if you choose two different colors that really will not blend well together; for example, if your original tattoo color was pink, and you now want to have green, these two colors will not blend well together, and you may end up having a brown color as the end result.

On the other hand, though, yellow can be mixed and blended in with red and orange really well, which means that if yellow was your first color choice, and you changed your mind and now want red, there is a good chance of this looking really nice and well blended as a final result.

You could also change your tattoo color to being a darker shade of that color with almost no consequences to what the tattoo will look like.

For example, if your original tattoo color was a light blue, and you changed your mind and decided that you now want to have dark blue – going over the light blue ink with the dark blue ink will usually blend flawlessly as they both carry the same undertones.

Can You Change The Color Of An Existing Tattoo?

The short answer to this is that yes, you can change the color of an existing tattoo; however, the colors that are involved will still have to be compatible and need to be able to blend together really well.

can you do this changing tattoo colors,
One of tattoos with color elements made by me

If you are looking to change the color of your existing tattoo because it is looking slightly faded and you want to bring your tattoo back to life, you may want to consider doing one of two things:

  1. Use the same color – if you simply want to bring an old tattoo back to life, you may consider using the same color that was used in your original tattoo and simply having it touched up. This will add plenty of life back into your tattoo, and you will not need to worry about if the color will blend properly.
  • Use the same color in a darker shade – if your original tattoo was a tree done with light green leaves and a light brown trunk, consider sticking with those colors but adding a darker shade. You could use a beautiful dark green in the leaves and a nice chocolate tone of brown to the trunk; you will not need to worry about if the new colors will blend properly, and they really will still be new colors.

If you are not wanting to add new color into an existing tattoo because of wanting to give your tattoo a facelift, but more to give your tattoo an entirely new look, you would need to consider the following things:

  • Is my tattoo artist comfortable doing this? Do they feel confident that it will come out looking nice?
  • Will the new color that I have chosen blend well with the existing color that I have? (For example, red and blue will not blend well together, but yellow and orange will blend well together.)

Once again, the new color that you choose to add to your tattoo will need to be compatible with any existing color that you already have, or the final color that is a blend of the old color, and the new color may come out looking really bad.

Can Colors Be Removed From A Tattoo?

Any colored ink that has been added to a tattoo will remain there permanently; all tattoos are permanent, and colored in is no different.

The only way that it is possible to remove the color from a tattoo would be if you were to have the color in your tattoo removed via laser tattoo removal.

If you want to remove colors from your tattoo, you can consider cover with darker ink
If you don’t want to cover your colored tattoo with darker ink, laser removal can be your only option to deal with it – one of my projects

The problem with only wanting one aspect of your tattoo removed by laser removal is that the laser can only ever be accurate to a certain point. This means that it may end up taking some other parts and aspects from your tattoo out while attempting to remove the color.

If removing the color is that important to you that you would be willing to lose other parts of your tattoo, you can always go ahead and have the laser tattoo removal done and strip away the color.

Once the area has properly healed after all of the laser removal sessions have been completed, and the skin has healed over entirely, you can go back to your tattoo artist and get the black and white parts of your tattoo that may have been stripped away by the laser redone again.

This will leave you with your original tattoo, just without the color that was added in before.

As much as this process may be a huge hassle and an expensive one at that, it is, unfortunately, the only way for you to remove the color from a tattoo

So, you should always be sure that you will be happy with whatever tattoo designs and colors you choose to get – not only now, but in the years to come too.

However, there is another option for you to consider other than laser tattoo removal; however, it will not remove the color from your tattoo; it will simply cover it.

You can always talk to your artist about to cover up your colored tattoo with a new one (one of my works)

Having your colored tattoo covered up with a new tattoo may be a better option for you than laser tattoo removal.

You will need to speak with your tattoo artist and see what they feel would be best for you and your tattoo.

If your artist agrees that a cover-up is a good and viable solution for your tattoo, then you can look at designs with your artist and explain to them that you specifically want to hide the color in your previous tattoo – they may be able to give you a colorless or grey tattoo over the color.

Once again, this will not take away the color in your previous tattoo, but it will cover the color, which means that you will not need to see it or deal with it anymore.

Can You Make A Color Tattoo Black And White?

A talented tattoo artist will possibly be able to convert your colorful tattoo into a black and white tattoo, depending on the size and design of your tattoo.

For example, if your tattoo is a large back piece tattoo that has a lot of watercolor in and around it, this will be a very hard tattoo to try and make black and white as there is far too much color in the tattoo, and the color in the tattoo plays too large of a role in tattoo’s details.

However, if you have a tattoo of a tree or a bird that has been filled in with color, your tattoo artist may be able to cover up most of the color using black, grey, and white ink.

White ink is not the tattoo equivalent of white-out; it cannot take away any color, as it is only able to add to a tattoo, not strip anything out. 

However, adding white ink to a tattoo can lighten the color in the tattoo by a relatively large amount, so when converting a color tattoo to a black and white tattoo, using white ink to lighten up certain areas may take away some aspects of the color in your tattoo.

Example of tattoo in black and white
Example of tattoo made with black and white ink from buzzly.fr

When you are trying to hide the color in a tattoo by making it a black and white (and grey) tattoo, you need to be prepared for the fact that your tattoo is going to look a lot darker than what it did before.

You have to add a lot of dark color to your tattoo to take away from the color that was there before, and this will make your tattoo as a whole much darker.

What Tattoo Color Is Hardest To Change?

There are certain colors that are far harder colors to work with when it comes to changing the color of a tattoo than others are.

These colors may not be able to be changed or worked with, other than adding a darker shade of that same color over it. These colors include:

  • Red – red has a very strong pigmentation that does not blend very well with other colors. If your tattoo has yellow or orange in it, you might be able to blend red into it; however, if your existing tattoo color is red, it will most likely not blend with any other colors well.
  • Blue – blue is one of the trickier colors to make blend in with other colors – especially darker shades of blue.
  • Purple – purple is technically already a blend of other colors, which makes it really tricky to try and add more colors to itwithout it turning into an ugly color.

These colors are some of the hardest colors to change in a tattoo. If your tattoo already contained one of these colors as the existing color that you want to add to, you may have to stick with just the darker shade of those colors, or they may not turn out looking very nice.

Some of my favourite designs, tattoo books and aftercare products, selected for you

working on tattoo at my studio
Working at the studio on one of my projects

Thank you for reading my article, I hope that you have found it helpful. If you would have trouble finding ideas for your tattoo, wonder what is meaning of design that you have found or what to buy for aftercare, to make sure that your tattoo will be healing quickly and easily, here are some of my favorite products in one place, hope that this will also help.

Deasign and tattoo ideas

For some ideas you can have a look at those 3 books with hundreds of designs that I use with my Clients, they are available on Amazon for Kindle or in classic, paper version (links below):

Tattoo meaning

If you would like to read more about the meaning of different tattoo styles and designs before you will decide what you would like to have, I can recommend a book that was really useful for me when I was starting my tattoo adventure – it’s “Conscious Ink: The Hidden Meaning of Tattoos” by Lisa Barretta (through the link you can find it on Amazon for around $10).

Tattoo aftercare

The skin at the tattoo site often dries out. To prevent it and speed up healing for my Clients, I usually recommend one of those tattoo aftercare balms (you can find them on Amazon):

Looking for more info about tattoos? I might have them covered!

I have written almost 100 articles about tattooing – with details about each body part, problems that you might have with your tattoo, designs, styles, aftercare, and much more.

Have a look at the search option and see if you can find what you need here.

other posts from  InkArtByKate
Some of my other articles, check them and see if you could find what you are looking for!

Conclusion

Changing the color of a tattoo is not an easy thing to do. It will take a very skilled tattoo artist who knows what they are doing to pull it off well, and sometimes they may even suggest rather changing the tattoo as a whole.

Make sure any new color that you are adding to an existing color is compatible with the existing color and that the two colors will blend well, or you may end up with a brown, grey, or mud green looking color in your tattoo – and unless this is what you were going for, you’ll be very disappointed in your tattoo’s end result.

So the best thing for you to do is have your current tattoo assessed by a skilled tattoo artist before making any decisions, and trust what they tell you is best for your tattoo because they really do know what is best and will help guide you to the best tattoo possible.

References

www.tattoomagic.info
www.quora.com
www.health.clevelandclinic.org
www.tatring.com

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