tattoo on biceps watercolour

Do Water Color Tattoos Take Longer? You will be surprised…

Are you looking at getting a watercolor tattoo? This tattooing style is a relatively new style of tattooing compared to other tattooing styles, which means many questions are being asked about it. Do watercolor tattoos cost more? Do watercolor tattoos take longer? Today we will have a good in-depth look into some of these questions.

Watercolor tattoos do not take longer to tattoo than a traditional tattoo. In fact, due to there not being much detail needed in a watercolor tattoo, getting a watercolor tattoo usually goes far quicker than a traditional tattoo does.

Let me dive a bit deeper into some of the answers to these commonly asked questions regarding watercolor tattoos and what you can expect out of them.

If you are looking for inspiration before your tattoo, check out my portfolio – you can find my works and projects here – on Instagram.

Do Watercolor Tattoos Take Longer To Tattoo?

Watercolor tattoos have very little detail. They usually do not have any line work or any specific borders that the artist needs to stick to in order to make a clean looking tattoo. 

Because of this, less attention to detail is required during the tattooing process, which means that your watercolor tattoo will generally go much more quickly than a traditional tattoo will.

When it comes to tattooing a watercolor tattoo piece, tattoo artists will generally not use a stencil as it is more of a freehand style of tattooing. 

This is another reason to ensure you are using a tattoo artist whose work you trust, as freehand work needs to be pure talent since you can not rely on the outlines of a stencil.

Because the artist will not need to stick to a stencil and can move relatively freely, this may lead to your tattoo going faster, as there is far less thinking and precise details that need to go into giving you the watercolor tattoo of your dreams. 

bird on back watercolour tattoo
Watercolor tattoo on back, inspiration from

Do Watercolor Tattoos Cost More?

The way a tattoo artist will generally set their prices will be that they charge you is by the hour. They will have a set hourly rate, and however long your tattoo takes is then how much you will pay accordingly.

For example, if they charge you $100 per hour, if you get a tattoo that takes them 30 minutes to do, they will charge you $50 for the tattoo, and if you get a tattoo that takes them three hours to do, they will charge you $300 for your tattoo.

Since this is how a tattoo artist’s rates are usually set out, it would mean that you should not have to pay more for a watercolor tattoo than you would a traditional tattoo.

In fact, due to the fact that watercolor tattoos generally take a shorter amount of time to tattoo than a traditional tattoo does, you may even end up paying less for a watercolor tattoo than you would have if you had gotten a traditional tattoo with color.

tattoo on biceps watercolour
Watercolor tatoo on biceps, inspiration from

Do Watercolor Tattoos Hurt More?

There are always a few factors that will play into how painful a tattoo is to have done. In order to say whether a watercolor tattoo will be more or less painful than a traditional tattoo to get, let us see what makes a tattoo painful.

Your Tattoo Artist

Your tattoo artist plays a massive role in how painful getting your tattoo will be—many tattoo artists tattoo with a very heavy hand, which often leads to a more painful tattoo.

The reason your artist may tattoo with a heavy hand could be for a number of reasons, from not realizing their own strength to being used to an old school gun if they have been in the game for a while, or they may even do it intentionally to try to ensure your skin takes the ink deep and it is well packed into your skin to avoid needing any touch-ups.

Whatever the reason is that your tattoo artist may tattoo with a heavy hand, if they do tattoo this way, your watercolor tattoo may be painful to get, but not more painful than any style of tattoo by that artist would be.

Shading Vs. Linework

Since watercolor tattoos are shading tattoos, as appose to a linework tattoo, getting your watercolor done will actually hurt less than a traditional tattoo. 

As much as when you generally get a shading tattoo done, your artist will repeatedly go over one section of your skin with the shading gun to pack the tattoo full of ink; this is not the case when it comes to watercolor.

With a watercolor tattoo, the artist will still use a shading gun, but they will not go over the same area for a long amount of time or repeatedly, as they are trying to get that flowy-water effect that you will not get with solid sections of color.

Because of this, your watercolor tattoo should not hurt more at all, but actually less.


Another factor that may impact how painful your watercolor tattoo is is where you choose to get your tattoo.

tattoo pain on a scale watercolor
Tattoo pain on a scale according to

If the placement you have decided on is a painful area, such as the ribs or shoulder blade, it will definitely hurt far more than if you had chosen to get your tattoo on your arm or thigh, for example.

Areas where there will be a lot of contact with a bone through your skin, are often the most painful places to be tattooed, so choosing a more fleshy area, like a thigh, where there will be little if any contact with bone will be the best places to consider getting a tattoo if you are worried about pain.

The placement of a tattoo plays a very large role in how much pain you will be in while you are getting the tattoo, so think long and hard about the placement of your tattoo before going ahead and getting it just anywhere.

Do Watercolor Tattoos Take Longer To Heal?

Watercolor tattoos, in general, do not take any longer to heal than other tattoos of a similar size.

In fact, if you take proper care of your watercolor tattoo as it is healing, it may even heal faster than other tattoos of a similar size, as the colored ink in a watercolor tattoo is not as saturated as most color tattoos.

This means that the skin will not have had as much “trauma” occur to it during the tattoo process, making it an easier wound to heal.

This means that your watercolor tattoo may even take less time to heal than other tattoos of a similar size.

tattoo on ribs different designs watercolour
Watercolor tatoos on ribs, inspiration from

Do All Tattoo Artists Do Watercolor Tattoos?

Most tattoo artists will know how to do a watercolor tattoo; however, if you have a tattoo artist who specialized in another style of tattooing, such as Japanese style tattooing, they may not be interested in trying to do a watercolor tattoo as it will be far out of their comfort zone.

When choosing a tattoo artist to do your watercolor tattoo, it is important to do some research and make sure they can do your tattoo well.

Look through their past tattoos, see if they are comfortable in using lots of colors if they have experience in any freehand work, and most importantly, see if they have done any watercolor tattoos before – everyone has to start somewhere, but it would be better if you were not your artist’s first attempt at a watercolor piece.

Look around until you find an artist who has done some great watercolor pieces that you are happy with and feel confident in their skill level.

Just because most tattoo artists can do watercolor tattoos does not necessarily mean that they should.


Watercolor tattoos are beautiful tattoos and can be a great addition to anyone’s growing tattoo collection – just be sure to find the right artist for you who you know will do this beautiful style of tattooing justice and give you a great piece.

The great thing about this style of tattooing is that not only is it colorful and unique, but it will also generally cost you less, take less time to get the piece tattooed, and hurt less when getting it done. 

As with any tattoo, you will need to make sure you choose the right design for you and the right placement to put it, and after you find the right tattoo artist – happy tattooing!

Some of my favorite 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.

Design 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):


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