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Color Realism Tattoos NYC

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Color realism is an art style that captures the details, colors, and depth of the real world around us and intricately transfers it onto skin. The techniques used to create a color realism tattoo are layering and gradual shading to make the image pop and become more 3D on the skin. Unlike black and grey realism, color realism uses light and colors to give the tattoos form and life. The ability to seamlessly blend colors and accurately capture the essence of an image is a talent that several of our artist have.


Although color-realism tattoos can be far more time consuming and can take much more skill and concentration than other tattoo styles, they create a piece that captures a memory, loved one, and much more on skin.

Our color realism artists will make you wonder… “How did they make that tattoo look so life-like? And when can I make my appointment?”

Mikhail Andersson - First Class Tattoo

Our Color Realism Tattoos Artists

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History of Color Realism Tattoos

The color realism style of tattoo is relatively new, especially since it is based on an art style that didn’t gain traction until the 1850s. As art goes, that’s pretty late in the game—and it wasn’t until even later that tattoo artists began to implement the realism style into their own designs. 


Realism in general uses intense detailing, thin needles, and defined techniques to make images as realistic and 3D as possible. When you see a color realism tattoo, you might be taken aback by how lifelike it looks. With its vibrant colors and close attention to detail, color realism tattoos often surprise people—in a good way!

The Future of the Style

As a relatively new style, color realism has a lot of potential. While the style hasn’t changed much since its inception, some popular themes that are sure to stick around include portraits, pop culture references, animals, and natural scenery.


With colors in particular, there will be even more options available as artists continue to experiment with different shades and pigments. Inks are also becoming increasingly safer to work with, with many companies opting for cruelty-free and vegan options.

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Different Uses of Color Realism Techniques

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Most color realism tattoos follow the basic guidelines of detailed inking and realistic imagery. However, layering, shading, and using stencils are three less-commonly known aspects of the style that allow for many different purposes depending on the type of tattoo you’re looking for.




Unlike many other styles of tattoo, color realism focuses largely on layering to create more realistic images. Layering eliminates the need for harsh outlines and bold, dark lines that may serve purposes for other styles of tattoos but would take away from the integrity of a realism tattoo.




Similar to layering, shading and using gradients of colors serve to add to the reality of an image. This aids in attaining the 3D look coveted by those searching for a color realism tattoo while also allowing for lighter and darker colors to work together in harmony to create the overall image.




Many color realism tattoo artists take advantage of using projected stencils to have a template to follow while inking the desired design. This makes it easier for the artist to complete the look and helps them avoid mistakes. Stencils also help establish the 3D looks craved by clients who are looking for more detailed tattoos, such as animals, scenes from nature, or portraits.

Color Realism Tattoos Gallery

Color Realism Tattoos FAQs

Do color realism tattoos last as long as other types?

There has been some controversy over whether or not colored tattoos in general last as long as black and white types. Because color realism involves fine shading and coloring, they may fade more quickly than other types. However, it’s ultimately the job of the client and the tattoo artist to discuss ways to prevent fading and to ensure proper healing. If you take proper care of your tattoo and get advice from a professional, the finished product will last just as long as other types. Also choosing the right size and having enough contrast will make a tattoo last much longer.

Do color realism tattoos hurt more than other types?

No. The amount of pain generally depends on the location of the tattoo, not the type. However, color realism tattoos tend to take longer to ink due to their details and coloring, so if you have a low pain tolerance or are looking for a shorter session you can break down the tattoo into several sessions, and come back after a month to finish the tattoo.

Do color realism tattoos have outlines?

You may have noticed that many traditional tattoo styles involve outlines. Because color realism tattoos are focused on looking lifelike and natural, tattoo artists normally focus on using gradual shading and layering instead of bold outlines. But the use of liner needle is a must in any tattoos, some parts are outlines with color some with color mixed with black, to hold the contrast and avoid the ink from spreading or bleeding over time. The biggest magic of a realistic tattoo is to use black lines for contrast but make it look for the viewer that there are none.

Color Realism Tattoos & Cover Ups

Color realism is a great style of tattoo to use as a cover up; the larger size and deeply saturated color creates a large barrier to block previous tattoos below. Color realism can easily dwarf many types and sizes of tattoos. Get yourself an incredible color realistic tattoo piece all while essentially eliminating a previous, dated design with the expert hands at First Class Tattoo. Turn an old tattoo into an absolutely stunning picture of something important to you or the world around us. 

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Ask us a question or inquire about booking a time for your Color Realism Tattoo!

52 Canal Street, New York, NY 10002  |  Tel: (646) 998-5203

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