Ideal Tattoo Color Palette

Submitted 05.26.23

Ideal Tattoo Color Palette

“Assuming that you can get all tattooers to agree or adopt skin type color index then you'll end up with something like six to seven colors that'll be the optimal colors that'll work in tattooing. They'll read the best, they'll be very predictable. That doesn't limit the artist because you can still mix those colors…”

-Shawn Bellina, S8 Tattoo Chemist

Often enough, when you’re choosing colors for a tattoo you can run into some issues. Occasionally when clients come back with their healed tattoos you can be a little disappointed to find that the ultra bright green you packed into those leaves looks a little drab or splotchy now. What happened (Link to Hi-Tech)? Could there be a universal way to fix these kinds of problems?

Limiting your options

When it comes to picking tattoo colors, there are a few things to think about. How many colors do I really require? Is it practical to restrict your color palette? Are there certain skin tones that benefit from particular color palettes? Could we streamline the procedure?

Tattoo Ink manufacturers create enormous catalogs that can cover just about any color, transition, or problem you might encounter. But with the rainbow at your fingertips sometimes it can be a little daunting trying to decide. Limiting your own color palette might be a good way to take a lot of the guesswork out of decision making.

Most ink brands have "Signature Sets" which contain a limited color palette that an artist normally uses. These can be helpful too if you're really inspired by an artist or aren't sure where to start when building your own catalog or library of tattoo colors.

What's a good starting point?

Building on some of the aforementioned ideas, like establishing a clear index for classifying skin types. You should be able to run a computer simulation and end up with about six distinct hues that will be the ideal colors for tattooing any skin tone. That might seem a little limiting to most veteran tattooers, but tattoo artists and ink manufacturers would be able to mix those colors and still be able to create a range of colors and options that would be just as extensive and make it more inclusive to clients who fall onto the darker portions of the scale. you might think of a CMYK printer, which only has 4 standard colors, or a standardized palette might look like the example below.

color tpne scale

Watch the full episode: 

Optimizing Tattoo Colors For Skin Types! Tattoo Physics Part 4 |  Tattoo Overview | Episode 11

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