Yes, it is possible to put color over a black tattoo. However, there are some important factors to consider when doing this. The existing black ink can make it more challenging for the new color to show up brightly and clearly. The color may turn out more muted, or with a different hue than intended. Success depends on careful planning and an experienced tattoo artist.
Reasons for Coloring Over Black Tattoos
There are a few main reasons people choose to put color over existing black tattoos:
- To cover up old or faded black tattoos
- To update or enhance the existing design with more color
- To incorporate the black lines into a new, colored design
- To add dimension, shading, and detail that was not originally included
Putting color over black can transform the tattoo and give it new life. It allows people to revive old tattoos and turn them into something fresh and vibrant.
What to Consider Before Coloring Over Black
Here are some important considerations before attempting to add color over black tattoos:
- The existing black ink can make the new colors appear dull or muted. Very bright, saturated colors are harder to achieve.
- Darker colored inks will generally show up better than lighter pastel shades.
- The tattoo artist will need to go over the black lines again to help the new color pop. This can cause some thickening of the lines.
- Scarring or poor tattoo application of the original tattoo can impair results.
- Cover up tattoos require dense, opaque coloring to properly conceal the old image.
- Adding color is usually best suited to black tattoos that are in good condition and only a few years old.
Having realistic expectations will help you get the results you want. Be open with your tattoo artist so they can advise you on the design.
Best Colors for Covering Up Black Tattoos
Some colors tend to show up better over black than others. Here are some top color choices:
- Saturated reds, oranges, and yellows – These warm, intense shades create a strong contrast against the black.
- Violets and magentas – These can transform a black tattoo into something more artistic and feminine.
- Turquoise and emerald greens – The cool undertones allow the greens to stand out against black.
- Deep blues – From navy to sapphire, the depth of these blues can make them pop.
- White – This can be an effective highlighter against solid black shading.
Pastel colors and lighter brights like coral, mint, or sky blue tend to look faded or dull against the dark background. Avoid these for best color visibility.
Tattoo Coloring Techniques Over Black
There are a few techniques an experienced tattoo artist may use when applying color over black:
- Outlining the existing black lines first with the color helps blend it together.
- Layering color gradually in thin coats allows it to build in intensity.
- Starting lighter in the center of the design then gradually increasing saturation outward can enhance the brightness.
- Backing the color with white ink first can make the other colors pop more.
- Incorporating black shading again on top of the color ties everything together.
This takes precision, skill and an artistic eye. That’s why choosing the right tattoo artist is so important for this type of tattoo.
Aftercare for Colored Over Black Tattoos
Caring for a colored over black tattoo is similar to any new tattoo:
- Keep it clean and moisturized as it heals using a fragrance-free lotion.
- Avoid soaking in water or allowing abrasion until healed.
- Wear sunscreen once healed to prevent fading.
- The color may need periodic touch up if it fades over time.
Let your artist advise you on any special aftercare instructions as the skin heals. Proper aftercare ensures your new colors stay vibrant.
Finding the Right Tattoo Artist
Choosing an artist experienced in coloring over black is crucial for getting your desired results. Here’s what to look for:
- Request to see healed examples of their color over black work.
- Look for 5+ years of tattooing experience.
- Find someone knowledgeable on different pigments and color mixing.
- Ask about their process and comfort working over existing black ink.
- Schedule a consultation to discuss your vision.
Don’t hesitate to ask plenty of questions so you know they can deliver on the tattoo you want.
Costs of Coloring Over Black Tattoos
Adding color over an existing black tattoo is generally more expensive than getting a regular single color tattoo. You can expect to pay:
- $150 – $200 per hour for simpler designs
- $200 – $350+ per hour for complex designs or full coverage color
The tattoo artist will likely charge by the hour due to the meticulous work involved. Additional sessions may be needed for larger tattoos. Shop minimums in the $100 – $200 range are common.
While not cheap, you’re paying for the artist’s time, skill, and expertise to transform your tattoo into a vibrant work of art. For customized, quality work, the price is well worth it.
Should You Get Color Over Black?
Deciding if you should get color tattooed over an existing black tattoo requires careful self-reflection:
- Are you open to the color turning out more muted than expected?
- Do you want to risk some minor thickening of the black lines?
- Is your priority to cover up or enhance the current design?
- Are you willing to pay more for the level of work required?
- Have you found an artist experienced in coloring over black ink?
If you can accept the limitations and risks, adding color can be a great way to give new life to your black tattoos. But quality results depend heavily on an experienced artist. Make sure you see examples of their color over black work before committing. With proper planning and skill, your old black ink can become a canvas for vibrant new colors.
Coloring over a black tattoo can provide stunning results but also poses some challenges. The black ink can cause the new colors to appear more muted or altered. Success requires choosing the right colors and tattoo artist. Saturated, opaque shades of red, green, blue and purple tend to show up best. An artist experienced in layering and blending colors is key. While costly, it can be worth it to transform simple black tattoos into vibrant works of art. With careful consideration and planning, you can successfully put colorful new life into your existing black ink.