Small Tattoo Ideas For The Subtle Body Art Lover

Mini Star Tattoo @rachainsworth

Sometimes it’s a tiny tattoo that can make the biggest impact. 

Minimalist tattoo designs and small tattoos have become super popular over the last few years, and the trend doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. 

From a simple outline of a butterfly, to a well detailed mini portrait, there are different ways to go when it comes to a tattoo design that’s easy to cover up. 

If you love subtle tattoos and you know you want a mini tattoo design for your next ink, keep scrolling for inspiration. 

Single Line Tattoos

For a minimal tattoo design that includes no shading or small details, a single line design is ideal. 

This is when the image – be it a cat, a wolf, a tree, or a face – is created with just one or two lines. 

Single Line Face And Plant Tattoo @sarunya.delilah

The line work can be simple and clearly defined (like an outline of a heart or crescent moon), or more chaotic with the line going over itself creating an image that looks like it’s made with wire.

For more on Minimalist Tattoos, click here

Mini Portrait Tattoos

If you want a super detailed tattoo, but you don’t want a large tattoo, you can shrink your highly detailed design down into a mini tattoo. 

A small portrait tattoo can include extremely fine details so that your pet’s face (or whatever portrait you decide) looks like a photo.

Realistic Cat Portrait Tattoo @mei.lu_tattooist

“While all other tattoos use sharp black outlines, micro-realistic tattoos use gradual shading and layering to create 3D effects that stand out. This type of less defined outline helps to increase the feeling of three-dimensionality,”

Alchemist’s Valley

This style of tattooing demands a lot of skill and attention to detail, so it’s important to find a professional tattoo artist who is well versed in micro-realistic tattoos.

For more on Micro Tattoos, click here

No Line Tattoos

A tattoo doesn’t have to include outlines! 

For a super delicate tattoo, opt out of thick defining lines and focus on soft hues for a watercolor painting effect. 

Flowers and plants are great choices for this type of tattoo.

Watercolor Flower Tattoo @franciska_melendez

Tattoo artist Wiji Lacsamana told Allure,

“The process of making watercolor tattoos is generally quite contrasting to the traditional way we were taught to tattoo. Traditionally, an outline is drawn first around the edges of the design, and then color is filled in, oftentimes in high opacity. [With watercolor tattoos] there are no bold, stark outlines and there aren’t necessarily ‘proper’ procedures on how to color it in…It is almost always never perfect, and so you have to translate that ‘freedom’ onto skin.”

For more on watercolor tattoos, click here

Zodiac Sign Tattoos

Do you feel connected to your sun or moon zodiac sign? 

Astrology tattoos can be the perfect choice for the tattooee who wants a representation of their personality. 

Capricorn Symbol Tattoo @hansolhandpoke

Each star sign has its own flower, constellation, and glyph (or symbol). 

The glyph is simple in design and works well as a tiny tattoo. 

For more astrology tattoo ideas, click here

Finger Dot Tattoos

Do you want a mini tattoo, but aren’t phased about it being on display all the time?

The fingers and hands can be great placements for mini tattoos because of their small surface areas. 

A very simplistic tattoo design for fingers is three dots, usually above the top knuckle right below the nail. 

Three Dot Finger Tattoo @alexandra.bertalan

This simple design has deep symbolism, as Tattoodo points out,

“Three is considered to be the numeral that represents the “whole” of the universe, correlating to time, the human body and the world as we know it. It can be used to show beginning, middle and end, heaven, earth and the waters, or body, soul and spirit.”

Three dots can also have a religious connotation to it, representing the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in the Christian faith. 

For what you should know about finger tattoos, click here

Word Tattoo

Word tattoos are one of the most popular choices when it comes to simple tattoo designs. 

A quote from a favorite novel or poem, or a single word as a well-being reminder can have deep meaning for the tattooee. 

Word Tattoo @math.lst

Click here for a list of six non-cliché one word tattoo ideas. 

Placement Options For Mini Tattoos

When it comes to choosing a tattoo, it’s not just the design that matters, but where you put the tattoo, too. 

For mini tattoos, choosing a place with a lot of space, like your arm or thigh, means you need to think about any other tattoos you may want in the future. 

Anklet Tattoo @estigmatattoocoruna

For example, you can get a mini portrait of your dog on your bicep, but this may cause an issue down the road if you want to get a full sleeve. 

Behind the ear, the ankle, wrist, hands, and fingers are all areas with a small surface area that a mini tattoo can nestle in. 

Also, pay attention to body hair. 

There is actually a hashtag on Instagram #healedandhairy to show what a tattoo looks like after it’s healed. 

You’ve got to shave the area that you want your tattoo on. If it’s not a place you usually shave, once the tattoo is healed and your hair grows back, it’s going to look different when you compare it with the ink you walked out of the studio with. 

Mini Crescent Moon Tattoo @handitrip

“A ‘healed and hairy’ tattoo often still looks great; but not understanding these changes could be an issue if you want something that looks straight-from-Instagram,”


For more Tattoo Placement options, click here.

What You Should Know Before Getting A Delicate, Mini Tattoo

Of course, with any tattoo style you get, there will be both pros and cons. 

When you initially get a tattoo, the lines are crisp and clean, but your tattoo isn’t going to look like this forever. 

Time and the sun takes its toll on ink, even more so when the colors are soft and the lines are fine. 

A rule of thumb is that the larger a tattoo and the thicker and darker its lines, the longer it’ll hold up. 

Delicate tattoos (simple mini fine line tattoos as well as small portraits) require a thinner needle and much less ink than traditional tattoos. 

Mini Fox Tattoo @nikitaseetotattoo

Ink isn’t a natural substance for your body to hold onto, so as time goes by, your body breaks down the tattoo and gets rid of the ink. The smaller and more delicate the tattoo, the quicker this process can be done. 

Of course, this doesn’t mean your tattoo is just going to vanish – the ink will fade and the lines will blur. 

Don’t let this stop you from getting the mini tattoo of your dreams! There are precautions to take to make sure your ink looks fresher for longer. 

  1. Follow the aftercare instructions that your tattooer gives you. The better your tattoo heals, the better it will hold up. 
  2. Always put SPF on your tattoo when going on.
  3. Look after your skin. Treating your skin well and keeping it hydrated will only positively impact your tattoo. 

For the subtle body art lover, there are tons of choices when it comes to mini and minimalistic tattoos. Do your research, know the pros and cons, and choose a design and placement you’ll love.

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