Things to Consider with Cover-Up Tattoos


With more and more people choosing to have cover-up tattoos as opposed to traditional tattoo removal services, becoming a proficient cover-up tattoo artist has become more appealing in recent years. The quality of tattoo cover-ups has improved significantly, to the point where the quality and consistency of work is of such a high quality that tattoo removal is no longer the first port of call.

Tattoo removal can often be inconsistent, incredibly time consuming and very expensive to do. Having the ability to effectively cover up botched or unwanted tattoos leaves you in a particularly promising position.



What is a Tattoo Cover-Up?

While the name suggests that a tattoo cover-up is made up of ink on top of previously drawn tattoos, a tattoo cover-up actually combines blending, depth of colour and shading to produce a tattoo around an existing tattoo. Tattoo cover-ups do not work like painting a picture, where layers of colour conceal previously applied colour. Cover-ups take skill and specialised training.

Tips for a Successful Cover-Up Include:

• Ensuring that the design used is as close to the old one as possible.


• Incorporating features from the old tattoo into the new tattoo and strengthening weaker lines.


• Correcting spellings in misspelt tattoos.


• Removing excess ink as a way of fading a tattoo.


• Opting for illusions as a way of improving the overall look of the tattoo.

How are Tattoo Cover-Ups Performed?

A good cover-up tattoo would have you believe that there has never been anything else in the same position, but tattoos can be poorly done. A bad cover-up tattoo looks as though two tattoos have been placed on top of one another. A good tattoo cover-up uses the original tattoo as a basis but yields a final product that is completely new and unique. In some cases, where the tattoo is particularly dark, or block-based, the tattoo may need some laser removal treatments, but in most cases this won’t be necessary.

The trick to a good, seamless cover-up is still being able to see the original lines - these lines have just been reused within the replacement piece and should be identifiable. Tattoo ink is transparent - any ink placed over existing ink will eventually bleed through and will not result in the desired effect.

Tattoo artists follow a particular procedure when considering a cover-up:

• Using tracing paper to outline the features of the client’s old tattoo, as a way of finding a reference for the parts of the tattoo that need maximum coverage.


• Another piece of tracing paper is used to create the new design, ensuring that the faint outline of the old tattoo is there as a reference point to ensure it is concealed.

Using the right equipment is key to producing professional, flawless designs, particularly where cover-ups are concerned. Tattoo machines are very intricate pieces of equipment, with details such as the weight, look, style and budget attached to the tattoo machine specific to each tattoo artist.



What Kind of Designs Can Replace Original Tattoos?

As a rule of thumb, tattoo cover-ups should be around two-thirds larger than the original tattoo: there’s absolutely no way, for example, that a larger tattoo could be replaced with something much smaller and delicate. Coverage also relies on how old or faded the tattoo is; newer tattoos are harder to cover, as the ink has had much less time to dissipate.

When considering how to approach a cover-up tattoo, the colours you use significantly affect its chances of success. If the original tattoo has softer colourings, it will be much easier to cover and where darker colours have been used, it might be wise to recommend fading or removal of the previous tattoo first before attempting to cover it.

• Black is the standard colour that a tattoo artist uses in the cover-up.


• New ink, when combined with the original ink, creates a brand-new colour.


• Tattoo artists will experiment with colour and style to place the design conveniently to cover the old tattoo.

What Specialised Skills Do Tattoo Artists Need to Produce an Effective Cover-Up?


An effective cover-up incorporates lines from the previous tattoo into the new tattoo, in such a way that it looks as though the original tattoo had never been there. An inexperienced tattoo artist, on the other hand, lacks the ability to naturally blend old and new designs and would produce a larger and dark tattoo. Tattoo cover-ups should only be attempted by tattoo artists who are well-trained in the art and have specialist skills that set them apart from traditional tattoo artists.

An effective cover-up tattoo artist must have:

• A good understanding of ink.


• Excellent blending and manipulation skills.


• A strong understanding of needlework.


• A lot of patience - tattoo cover-ups can be both meticulous work and incredibly time-consuming. Artists wanting to work in cover-ups should be willing to spend a lot of time on the design process.


• Excellent communication skills - artists need to be able to discuss the limits that the client's current tattoo has and what they should expect from their new tattoo.

One of the easiest solutions to ensuring that a good cover-up is produced is to fade the hard and dark lines before attempting the cover-up using laser tattoo removal services. Every qualified tattoo artist is fully aware of the most reputable laser removal clinics in their area and is able to refer clients there for laser removal, if it is necessary.



If you’re an experienced tattoo artist looking at finessing your skills in cover-up tattoo work, our specialised, state-of-the-art tattoo machines may well be your saving grace. We are able to provide you with personalised equipment, perfect for you and suited to your needs and tastes to ensure that your clients are receiving the best possible care and the highest quality cover work available.