How to Fill in a Full Sleeve Tattoo

Written by ashley hay
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How to Fill in a Full Sleeve Tattoo
Sleeve tattoos got their name because they cover your arms as shirt sleeves do. (Sexy tattoo man image by MAXFX from

Full sleeve tattoos usually start at the top of the shoulder and continue down to the wrist. Whether you would like to fill in a full sleeve to cover old unwanted tattoos, or to create a new design, a full sleeve takes time and planning. Many will start with one or two tattoos on their arms and later decide to do a full sleeve, this will require planning to work around the previous tattoos or innovative ways to cover them. Tattoos can be a form of self-expression, so take time in expressing how you truly feel and not settling on pre-made designs.

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  1. 1

    Find a tattoo artist you can trust. Either ask friends or research reviews online, but never go to an artist that you know nothing about.

  2. 2

    Pick a theme for your sleeve. Although most sleeves have a theme, you can certainly just choose a variety of random tattoos if that is what you prefer. If you already have tattoos on your arm then you will need to plan around them or have them covered by new tattoos.

  3. 3

    Discuss the theme, or the individual tattoos you want, with the tattoo artist. Come up with a few different ideas and start building your sleeve from those ideas. If you have a specific theme, such as a Japanese theme featuring Koi fish or cherry blossoms, decide how big you would like the main features of the tattoos and the placement of each tattoo.

  4. 4

    Create a design, with or without the tattoo artist, either by drawing it out on paper or by freehand on your arm. Creating a design before you start the tattoo will prevent empty spots that will require solid ink filler or a random unnecessary tattoo.

  5. 5

    Prepare time for your tattoo. Many tattoo enthusiasts take their time completing sleeves. The tattoos require time to heal. Healing includes peeling and they often become rather itchy. The skin may become highly sensitive during the healing process, which may prolong the completion of the sleeve. Often, a sleeve can take months to complete, depending on time, money and scheduling. You can spend hours on one sitting, depending on the details included in your design.

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