With Pictures: Can a Color Tattoo Be Made Black?


There are many considerations that go into getting a tattoo – but what about after the fact? While tattoos may be permanent, they are prone to fading over time, which can leave them looking less than fresh. Or perhaps you got a tattoo you regretted almost immediately. Before you consider forking out your hard-earned money to get it removed, consult a trusted tattoo studio or artist about the possibility of getting your tattoo covered up. 

When performing a cover-up of any tattoo, the studio or artist will need to use a darker ink than that of the piece being covered. When getting a color ink tattoo-covered, the safest solution would be the use of black ink in the cover-up. Covering a tattoo using darker ink, which can often span multiple sessions, ensures that the previous tattoo does not shine through. 

Dark ink is a good solution for covers
Black ink is the safest solution in the cover-up (one of my works).

When deciding whether or not to cover an existing tattoo, there are various factors that need to be taken into account. The cover-up process will differ on an individual basis, depending on the size, placement, and color of your existing tattoo. Your tattoo studio or artist will be able to give you specified information once you go for a consultation. However, before you book your appointment at the studio, these are the factors you need to keep in mind when considering a cover-up. 

Can You Change the Color of an Existing Tattoo?  

Tattoos are not as permanent as they seem. While they may last a lifetime when properly cared for, there are ways to alter or even remove tattoos. Before even considering the removal of a tattoo, you should first consult with a trusted tattoo artist about covering up your tattoo in a variety of different ways and any potential risks involved. If you are not satisfied with the cover-up that is proposed, you can always do more research into getting laser tattoo removal. 

You can add color to your existing tattoo (my project)

There are many talented tattoo artists and studios that specialize in covering up tattoos that are old or simply regretted. Given that tattoos are, for the most part, permanent, there are certain limitations when covering up tattoos. Your tattoo artist will be able to talk to you about any possible limitations in conjunction with the tattoo you wish to cover up. 

Chances are, your tattoo artist has previously helped a variety of different clients with cover-ups for a vast number of reasons. Depending on the tattoo you wish to cover up, your tattoo artist may use a few techniques in order to leave you with a satisfactory result. Some cover-ups, such as those done over words, are easier to complete than others, such as those done over images. 

When considering a cover-up session, a common question that is asked is, “can you change the color of an existing tattoo?” The answer is yes. It is possible to use darker ink colors to cover up lighter ink colors. However, this always carries the potential risk of the original tattoo showing through your new one. Your tattoo artist may instead suggest that you cover up your color ink tattoo using black ink

Making a Color Tattoo Black 

Covering up a tattoo could take months and many sessions, depending on what you would like to have covered. It would be an impossible task to cover up an old tattoo with a new design that is lighter. In fact, your tattoo artist may use white ink to lighten the color of an existing tattoo before adding any new ink. Even with this lightning, you will need to use darker ink to cover up an existing tattoo. Your best option in achieving a successful cover-up you’re proud to sport is black ink. 

Black in is the best to tattoo covers
Regardless of the color of the tattoo, shape-shifting covers are best done with black ink (one of my covers)

By using black ink to cover a color picture tattoo, you largely eliminate the possibility of your color tattoo shining through the cover-up. This is a crucial consideration to take into account when deciding on the color of your cover-up ink. If you don’t want to go through all the effort of getting a tattoo you regret covered up only to have it shine through and remind you of it again, you should use black ink. 

Using a new design with plenty of linework could work well as it will break up the initial tattoo in definitive ways. When going for a cover-up, it would be advised not to have your mindset on a specific cover-up design. More often than not, you will have to work closely with your artist to find a design that will adequately cover your existing ink. Remember, unlike getting a brand-new tattoo, covering tattoos up is a process that takes time when done properly. 

Adding Color to Black Ink 

While covering a color picture tattoo with black ink can be a tricky process, the reverse could be simpler. If your existing tattoo used predominantly black line work, you always have the option later to color it in as if it were a picture in a coloring book. You could always use a sharpie to do a test run and, if you like it, get it made permanent by a qualified tattoo artist. 

Awesome example of adding colors to existing tattoo
Beautiful example of adding color to existing black tattoo from quora.com

In fact, when getting a large tattoo done, many artists prefer to add the color in a follow-up session. This is because people naturally bleed more during longer sessions. Getting a color tattoo done in steps like this allows the color to remain vibrant for a lot longer. 

Is It Better to Get a Color or Black Tattoo?

Many tattoo enthusiasts know exactly how they want their ink to look, whether they want to incorporate vibrant ink colors or keep it simple with traditional black ink. However, especially for those considering their first tattoo, deciding between color ink and black ink can be a difficult decision. This is just one factor of many to consider when getting a piece of permanent art, so the process can feel overwhelming at times. When it comes down to choosing between black ink and color ink, there are a few main factors you need to keep in mind. 

With some color your tattoo can get a better look
If you change your mind, you can make a cover of your tattoo (one of my works)

Color ink is known to fade faster than black ink. Given that tattoos are permanent, black ink would be a safe bet when thinking about tattoos in the long run. Despite this, color tattoos can always be touched up to maintain their vibrancy, as is also the case with black tattoos. However, covering up a color tattoo could be harder than covering one with black ink. This is because you will naturally need to go with darker inks, and you run the risk of having your previous design shine through. 

Colors have the ability to evoke a certain mood. By adding color to your design, you might find a new way to express yourself. However, there is far less shading involved with black ink than with color ink. This means that it will be less painful to sit for a black tattoo using predominantly black linework and shading as opposed to a color tattoo that needs to be, well, colored in. The needle used in tattooing needs to pierce every piece of skin where the ink will be. For first-timers, black ink would be the best route. You could always color it in later, should you wish to.  

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

Whether you’re covering a new tattoo, you already regret or an old one that’s faded in time, a cover-up should be carefully considered. There are different factors that need to be taken into account, which is dependent on the size, color, and location, of the tattoo you want to get covered. Getting a tattoo removed with a laser is an expensive last resort. Covering up a tattoo can work out cheaper in the long run and is a unique process that, when done carefully, can leave you feeling good about your ink.  

Some of my works with black ink and color
Some of my works with black and color ink

When getting a color ink tattoo-covered, the most common solution recommended by artists would be the use of black ink in the cover-up. Covering a tattoo using darker ink, which can often span multiple sessions, ensures that the previous tattoo does not shine through. When getting a cover-up, you should ensure that you use a reputable studio or artist that specializes in cover-ups. 

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