Full Sleeve Tattoo Ideas

Written by gwen wark
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Full Sleeve Tattoo Ideas
Full sleeve tattoos can be real attention grabbers. (tattoo image by no-FaCe from Fotolia.com)

Full sleeve tattoos run from the shoulder to the wrist and are a symbol of the wearer's dedication to body art and modification. They are executed in a variety of themes and styles including colour, blackwork and greys. A full sleeve tattoo often takes several sittings to complete, since the designs are often complex and take time to execute.


Full sleeve tribal tattoos are often designed in a single colour, such as black, or in varying shades of grey. The stark lines of a full sleeve tribal tattoo are often a stylised interpretation of African and East Indian artwork. While most designs do not have a specific meaning attached to them, the artist may choose to incorporate designs that have a personal meaning for the wearer.

Tribal designs are often created in straight, heavy black lines; however tribal tattoos can also be created in shades of grey or using solid colours for variety and contrast. The design can be strictly tribal or there can be other elements involved, making a full tribal sleeve an excellent way to connect smaller, older tattoos with a unifying design.


Floral full sleeve tattoos are particularly popular for women. They can be realistic or stylised, and are often designed in full, vibrant colour.

Vintage flower patterns are more stylised and evoke old-fashioned designs. These designs are often full of colour with dramatic, bold lines and heavy outlines; they often use roses as a prominent figure in the piece. They can also be combined with other vintage style designs, such as swallows, hearts and nautical stars.

Modern flower designs may be more realistic, with delicate outlines and shading. Roses are also used in these designs, as are lilies, chrysanthemums, peonies and orchids. They are often full-colour designs, but tend to have more muted colours instead of vibrant hues.


Biomechanical full sleeve tattoos often feature creatures and machines, making it a popular subject for men. These designs evoke the art of H. R. Giger, and are often executed in black and grey only for a stark, mechanical feel.

Popular subjects for biomechanical tattoos include exposed machinery, such as gears, pistons and wires. The design is created so that it is aligned with the wearer's muscles, bones and tendons, as if it is a part of his or her body. Scales, tentacles and skin are also used to create a biological element, making the tattoo seem like it is part of a futuristic, fantastic creature.

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