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The Complete Guide to Color Realism Tattoos

Amongst the pinnacle of artistically eye-popping, beautiful tattoos is the style referred to as color realism. As the name suggests, color realism tattoos focus on a realistic color scheme around the real object. Rich colors are utilized to give each design depth and pop while light sources are incorporated, which allows for complicated shading that contributes to a realistic feel to whatever object is depicted. The rich, accurate colors and the realistic shading makes each piece occupy its own space and form, feeding into the realistic feel of the art style. If you’re considering getting a color realism tattoo, you’ve come to the right place. Below, we will discuss the details and designs of color realism tattoos as well as some of the frequently asked questions from people who are also considering this eye-popping, dramatic art style for their next tattoo.

Popular Color Realism Ideas

When considering your own design, seeing what others have done for their color realism tattoos can inspire and teach lessons on what should and shouldn’t be tattooed in this style. Let’s explore some popular color realism ideas:


Flowers are an extremely popular subject for color realistic tattoos; roses specifically are often depicted in this style. Flowers are a popular choice because of the vibrant colors that are utilized to capture the flower’s essence. The complexity of color realism also allows the artist to incorporate texture into the design further helping the art to pop off the skin.


Color portraits are a popular subject for color realistic tattoos. Using rich, deep, realistic color and adding light sources can allow for a portrait to really shine. Essentially, a skilled artist is capable of taking your favorite picture of a person or animal and transcribing the picture to your skin to create dramatic, realistic depictions of whoever you desire.


Skulls are another popular example of what people choose to tattoo under a color realism approach. Again, the dramatic lighting, fantastic color, and extreme detail allow a gifted artist to give a skull a real feel on the skin. The realism that can be captured through this art style is truly captivating.

Download Our Color Realism Tattoo Guide

Color Realism Tattoo Guide PDF
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Frequently Asked Questions

With an understanding of what is often depicted through a color realism style, let’s explore some of the common questions that arise for those getting this style of tattoo.

Do Color Realism Tattoos Age Well?

In the grand scheme of tattoos, color realism does not hold up over time the same way that other tattoo styles may. This is because color realism utilizes a lot of details to create the texture and shading that make the designs so realistic. Over time, these lines can and will fade giving a less sharp look to any intensely detailed pieces.

This isn’t to dissuade you from the color realism style, but just to set proper expectations. As with any tattoo, the piece won’t look the same 10 years removed from the day you got it. Remember that the placement of the tattoo and the size will also have an effect on how it ages. Places on your body that receive less sunlight and are less susceptible to stretching like a shoulder or upper legs will age better.

How Long Does it Take to Tattoo Color Realism?

The short answer is that color realism takes longer than most other styles. This is because color realism pieces have so much detailed shading and saturation that need to be incorporated. What’s more, to make sure there is room in the piece for the detail, color realism designs tend to be much larger than most other styles. If you plan to get a color realism tattoo, be ready to sit. But the end result of a color realism piece makes your patience worth it.

How Do I Take Care of My New Color Realism Tattoo?

To help heal your new color realism tattoo, go to the basics of tattoo care. This includes washing the tattoo 2-3 times a day and applying healing ointments multiple times a day while letting the damaged skin breath. This means that the clothing around the tattoo should be loose fitting. Ideally, the tattoo can exist uncovered, but also kept out of the sun. Do not submerge your new tattoo under water whether that be in the bathtub, in a pool, or any other body of water. Healing a color realism tattoo is not entirely unlike other tattoos. However, due to the intense detail of color realism, a tattoo that is not properly healed will really show.

Contact the Color Realism Experts at First Class Tattoo in NYC!

Color realism is a unique style that, when done by expert artists, is breathtaking. To get started on your journey to receiving a color realism tattoo, contact the experts at First Class Tattoo today! We can walk you through your specific design, outline the tattoo process, and give you an amazing piece of art for you to carry for the rest of your life.

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