Cool Tattoo Sleeves

Cool Tattoo Sleeves

Tattoo Inspiration, News & Education

Half Sleeve Cover Up Ideas

…or any tattoo cover up ideas for that matter.

Full arm cover up tattoos

Sometimes we do things we regret or wish we had rather not done, like getting your ex’s name tattooed on a drunken night out. People evolve, grow and change, so it’s common for us to fall out of love with our past decisions and consequently our tattoos. Half sleeve tattoos are the most requested tattoo in tattoo parlours, which in turn makes the half sleeve cover up the most requested tattoo fix!

The common reasons why many of us want to remove or change our half sleeve tattoos (or any tattoo for that matter) is because it was done at a different time in our lives and it doesn’t mean that much to us now, such as;

  1. You thought was cool when you were younger and doesn’t seem so cool now
  2. You still love the tattoo but it was done so long ago that it has distorted or faded
  3. The tattoo was a symbol of a romantic relationship that is no longer
  4. The tattoo is a horrible design that you’d like upgraded 
  5. The tattoo isn’t on the right part of the body or the right position

Tattoos are supposed to be permanent. However, fortunately with the options available today, you don’t have to be banished to live the rest of your life branding a tattoo you dislike. If you are sick and tired of looking at your unwanted arm tattoo every single day, then a half sleeve cover up might be the answer for you. 

Half sleeve cover up tattoos or any cover up tattoos for that matter, hide the old tattoo with a bigger and/or different design on top. What’s exciting about cover up tattoos is that you get to create a new design that you’ll actually like. 

Half sleeve cover up ideas

Talented tattoo artists have invented insanely clever half sleeve cover up ideas, completely transforming the design into something you’ll be proud to show off. While researching, you’ve probably noticed that a popular tattoo cover up solution is black work and using negative space. This option is a big commitment as it requires completely blacking out the old tattoo and creating a new design on top. You’ll need more sessions and a big budget but the final result (as you can see from the pictures in our Pinterest board below) is absolutely amazing! If you are a fan of these tattoos, this could be the option for you. 

If you are not keen on having a large black half sleeve cover up replacement and would like a particular design to cover your tattoo, then a few sessions of tattoo removal may be needed to erase or fade out part of the original design to make way for the new design. Another way tattoo artists fade out tattoos is by placing white ink over the old tattoo which can lighten the tattoo up to 10% each session. This could take several sessions depending how big and dark your old tattoo is, but it could also be a viable option. 

Sleeve tattoo cover ups

Now, if you still have some love for your old tattoo, that’s great, you can either revamp it by darkening up old lines, refreshing the colors, or getting a better version of the design on top, which doesn’t require as much work as covering up your old tattoo completely.

In any case, you need to work with a talented tattoo artist who is especially experienced in cover up tattoos. They will discuss cover up ideas with you and work on a bespoke design and solution that suits your style, taste, budget and pain tolerance. 


So, how does a half sleeve cover up tattoo work?

Let’s explore the three main elements of a cover up tattoo- colors, tattoo techniques and design.

Cover Up Tattoo Colors:

Contrary to common belief, the ink of the cover up tattoo doesn’t actually layer on top of the original ink, rather it mixes with it to create a new color. The reason that many tattoo artists use black is because the dark ink over-rides any other color and essentially blacks it out. 

For colored tattoos, it’s a good idea to know about the colors that can help you cover up an old tattoo so you can start planning the new design. Blacks and dark colors obviously work well, but oranges, greens, blues, pinks and browns work effectively too. If you already have a colored tattoo, think about the colors you can mix with it to create new ones. Your tattoo artist will place the new design strategically over the old one, working with the original colors to ensure the final result is cohesive.

Tattoo Cover Up

It’s hard to fix dark tattoos with light colors so you’ll want to choose colors that are considerably dark for good coverage. If you want a tattoo that has light colors or shades, there is a risk that your old tattoo might peek through. Your tattoo artist will be able to recommend colors to minimise see-through. When opting for a colored cover up tattoo be aware that some colors fade quicker than others, speak to your tattoo artist about the durability of colors for your specific design.

Cover Up Tattoo Techniques:

Shading helps to blend in the new tattoo while discreetly hiding the old one underneath. A talented tattoo artist will also incorporate the lines and elements of your old tattoo into the new one to ensure a seamless design transition.

If you still have some love for your old tattoo, you can either revamp it by darkening up old lines, refreshing the colors, or getting a better version of the design on top that doesn’t require covering up your old tattoo completely. 

Quarter sleeve cover up tattoo

Cover Up Tattoo Size: 

Depending on how different your old design and colors are from your new one, most tattoo artists recommend having your cover up tattoo 30% larger than your old tattoo, as this ensures it is completely hidden. However, if increasing the size by 30% is a bit nerve racking, don’t fear, talented tattoo artists can usually come up with a pretty nice compromise, as you can see from the images in our Pinterest board below. Nevertheless, your cover up tattoo will need to be larger to some extent than your old tattoo, this is something you’ll unfortunately have to accept.

As you can gather, there are a multitude of ways you can cover up an old tattoo. Speak to a tattoo artist who is experienced in half sleeve cover up tattoos to get advice on your individual circumstance. In the meantime, below are some great before and after half sleeve cover up ideas to show you what’s possible and give you some inspiration…