Legs are the perfect canvas for tattoos, for lots of reasons. If you want to cover them up, it’s no worries, there’s plenty of space to get a range of different sizes and as far as placement goes, you can be as discreet or obvious as you like.
Whether you’re thinking about getting your first tattoo or want inspiration to add to a full-leg sleeve tattoo or a calf tattoo, these original tattoo ideas will help you find the perfect design to bring to your favourite tattoo artist.
Table of contents
- All Possible Leg Tattoo Placements
- 50 Popular Leg Tattoo Ideas
- Leg Portraits
- Animal Tattoos
- Tribal Leg Tattoos
- Snake Leg Tattoos
- Dragon Leg Tattoos
- Angel Leg Tattoos
- Small Leg Tattoos
- Band Leg Tattoos
- Māori Leg Tattoos
- Arrow Leg Tattoos
- Japanese Leg Sleeve Tattoo
- Geometric Leg Tattoo
- Mechanical Leg Tattoos
- Skull Leg Tattoos
- Lion Leg Tattoos
- Celtic Leg Tattoos
- Quote Leg Tattoos
- Religious Leg Tattoo
- Full Leg Tattoos
- Leg Tattoos For Dark Skin
- Butterfly Leg Tattoo
- Simple Leg Tattoo
- Colourful Leg Tattoos
- Fandom Tattoos
- Astrology Tattoos
- Frequently Asked Questions – Leg Tattoo Ideas
All Possible Leg Tattoo Placements
Before exploring popular leg tattoo ideas, it’s essential to consider where your new leg tattoo ideas will go. Placement can help determine the ideal size and shape for your project, both of which need to be locked in before the tattoo gun comes out.
Upper Leg Tattoos
A full thigh tattoo or upper leg tattoo is an excellent option if you want something discreet. It’s easier to hide than a lower leg tattoo, and the thigh provides a large area ideal for portraits or sprawling designs.
Calf tattoos are becoming increasingly popular among men’s tattoos, but you’ll also find women who sport a lower-leg calf tattoo. The calf is a great spot for a tattoo with a vertical shape, or one that wraps around your leg.
Lower Leg Tattoos
Tattooing your lower leg opens up many possibilities, with the shin area a spot that can complement any calf tattoo. You can opt for a minor leg tattoo or design a full-leg sleeve leg tattoo. Wearing shorts is a great way to display your leg tattoo, while long pants are an easy option to hide if you want to.
Side Leg Tattoos
The side leg tattoo isn’t always thought of, but it’s another good spot with plenty of space to bring tattoo designs to life. The side of the thigh can work nicely as a placement that’s easy to cover up, while the side of the lower leg is a little more difficult thanks to the natural shape of the calf muscles.
Half Leg Sleeve Tattoos
A half-leg sleeve tattoo is a good compromise if you’re not ready to commit to a full-leg tattoo. You can go with the lower half of the leg, or the upper half, depending on your design and preference.
Knee tattoos can be painful due to their placement, but they can make a great addition to an existing leg sleeve, while creating a unique look.
If you’re looking for a discreet tattoo placement that is easy to hide, an ankle tattoo is an excellent choice as you can always cover it with your sock. It’s also a popular leg tattoo idea for your first tattoo, because they don’t have to be very large and can save a lot of money and time in the tattoo studio.
50 Popular Leg Tattoo Ideas
Portraits are a great way to honour the people who are important to you, be they inspirational figures or people you know. While these complex tattoos require talent and skill, the results can be stunning.
A talented tattoo artist can create a lifelike tattoo of your children, siblings, or parents. Getting the portrait of someone you care about on your leg is a great way to remember a loved one.
Are you a fan of a singer or actor? Getting their face tattooed onto their calf muscle or as a front leg tattoo can be a fun way to honour this person, but is also a potential source of regret in the future. Think carefully about celebrity portraits.
From geometric to realistic, animals are a popular tattoo subject around the world and can be extremely meaningful.
The front of your thighs is the perfect location for a large animal tattoo, if that’s what you’re considering. You can pick an animal that represents your personality, such as a lion leg tattoo to signify strength and courage, or one that has historical or cultural significance.
Getting a memorial tattoo can be a healthy way to grieve a beloved pet. However, many pet owners get tattoos of their furry companions while they’re still alive to celebrate their special bond.
Tribal Leg Tattoos
With their abstract and intricate motifs, tribal tattoos create beautiful designs that immediately make you stand out. From traditional Māori or Native American tattoo designs, to a larger Celtic leg tattoo, there are many ways you can honour your family and cultural history.
Tribal Leg Sleeve
If you want a tattoo design covering your entire leg, tribal motifs can be an original option, rich with meaning. A tribal leg sleeve is a big commitment and a strong statement, but can represent an important part of your history and personality.
Small Tribal Tattoo
A smaller tribal tattoo can make an excellent knee tattoo or fill a gap between two larger tattoo designs. It’s a fun idea because the size and shape are easily adjusted based on the available space.
Snake Leg Tattoos
A snake tattoo can signify power, strength and rebirth. It’s a popular leg tattoo design, because a snake coiling around your leg always looks impressive.
A realistic snake coiling around your thigh or lower leg will look stunning. The scales will add the correct detail and texture to the design.
Skull and Snake
Combining snakes with other elements is a common practice, often signifying a more complex message or meaning. You can create a Memento mori-style design by picking a snake coiled around a skull, dagger, or heart, reminding you of the impermanence of life and the importance of living to the fullest.
Dragon Leg Tattoos
Mythical creatures are a popular theme among tattoo artists. The calf is an ideal spot for a vertical dragon leg tattoo, but you can also get a larger design on your thigh.
Side Leg Tattoo
A colourful dragon sprawled over your leg can be a fun tattoo idea. You’ll have room to add other elements, even creating a sleeve later.
A thigh tattoo is ideal if you want a larger dragon leg tattoo. You can opt for a design that shows a bulkier European-style dragon, or a more Eastern-inspired creature with the elongated body of a snake.
Angel Leg Tattoos
A religious leg tattoo can send a strong message about your beliefs, while providing guidance and commitment to faith.
A guardian angel tattoo can keep you safe from harm, while reminding you of the beliefs and values you care most about.
In the Bible, Archangels are high-ranking angels who fight against Evil. Archangel tattoos often depict these beings with flaming swords and large wings, fighting against the evil of the world and protecting the innocent.
Small Leg Tattoos
Many more discreet options exist if you’re not up for a full-leg tattoo.
A minimalist tattoo is typically a tiny symbol with a special meaning. It can be a simple line drawing or a character like a heart, a musical note, or a shape.
Framed tattoos are a fun way to showcase something you love while creating a structured look. It’s an excellent option for a small leg tattoo because the frame immediately makes the design stand out.
Band Leg Tattoos
In some cultures, a band leg tattoo is a symbol of mourning. However, many people get a band leg tattoo just because they like the look.
Tribal Band Tattoo
A tribal leg tattoo that wraps around your calf can evoke strength, honour, and love. You can explore tribal motifs inspired by Māori or Celtic cultures for an original look.
Floral Band Tattoo
If you’re looking for a more traditionally feminine tattoo idea, a floral band design can create a delicate look and mimic wearing jewellery.
Māori Leg Tattoos
In Māori culture, tattoos tell intricate stories about a person’s history and family. You don’t need to have Māori heritage to appreciate these beautiful tattoos.
This popular pattern represents fish scales. It’s a symbol of wealth and prosperity and can bring good fortune.
The Marquesan cross is a popular Polynesian leg tattoo design. It represents the idea of balance and harmony, and it’s easy to customize it with different tribal patterns.
Arrow Leg Tattoos
Arrows typically represent strength, success, and perseverance.
A stylized arrow can be a beautiful minimalistic tattoo design. The vertical shape of this tattoo idea makes it ideal if you’re looking for a simple but meaningful upper leg tattoo too.
Arrow Going Through Your Skin
If you’re looking for a fun and irreverent tattoo idea, you can have a tattoo artist create a design that mimics the appearance of an arrow going through your skin. A few drops of blood will complete the look.
Japanese Leg Sleeve Tattoo
A Japanese tattoo often features bold lines, high contrast, and a beautiful background.
If you’re looking for a Japanese leg tattoo idea, a koi fish symbolizes strength and perseverance. Incorporating this fish into a vertical design with a beautiful background is easy.
Demons are a popular theme in Japanese tattoos. With their bold colours and expressive faces, these tattoo designs stand out.
Geometric Leg Tattoo
A geometric leg tattoo can be a good fit if you’re looking for a small leg tattoo with a modern look.
Playing with geometric shapes can result in an aesthetic design. You can align shapes to create a vertical tattoo for your calf or the front of your leg.
Geometric animals are a popular tattoo trend. These designs turn an animal portrait into a series of shapes that capture the essence of the animal, without needing to be photorealistic to look fantastic.
Mechanical Leg Tattoos
Mechanical leg tattoo designs are an original option that uses machine parts to create an aesthetic look.
Robot Leg Sleeve
You can create a unique design by combining different mechanical parts to create the impression that you have a robotic leg. Popular details include cogs, pistons, wires, and screws.
A popular trend is to incorporate biological elements into mechanical designs. Some artists can leave areas of clear skin to give the impression that the mechanical components are under your skin.
Skull Leg Tattoos
Skull tattoos are a timeless tradition. It’s a famous symbol that evokes death but can also signify rebellion, as well as being a design that looks good with other tattoo designs around them.
Skull and Nature
Combining skulls with flowers, butterflies, and other elements inspired by nature is a common practice that evokes rebirth and the life cycle.
A grim reaper tattoo can have profound meaning if you want something more sinister. A full-leg tattoo featuring a grinning skull and a scythe can send a powerful message about life, death and the importance of living to the fullest.
Lion Leg Tattoos
A lion tattoo will immediately evoke courage and honour. It’s an excellent theme for a leg tattoo because your thigh or calf is the perfect canvas for creating a large design that shows a roaring lion.
Detailed portraits of lions are a common theme in tattoo imagery. These designs celebrate the beauty of nature while embodying values like strength and respect.
Lion With Crown
Portraying a lion with a crown is a popular design that evokes courage and wisdom. It can act as a powerful reminder of your self-improvement journey.
Celtic Leg Tattoos
Celtic tattoos often feature ancient symbols that evoke faith, love, and harmony.
Knots are a popular theme for Celtic tattoos. These shapes symbolize the ideas of interconnectedness and eternity.
The Celtic cross is a strong symbol of faith and a popular Celtic tribal leg tattoo here. It’s an original tattoo idea if you’re looking for a tribal leg tattoo that evokes your traditional values.
Quote Leg Tattoos
Text-based tattoos are a great way to carry messages that have a special and deep meaning to you. From poems to Bible verses, quote tattoos are a constant reminder that there is good in the world.
Thigh Text Tattoo
The upper thigh is the perfect spot for a quote tattoo because there is enough room for horizontal design. You can write a single line of text or create a more significant piece with several lines and some decorative elements.
Japanese characters are an original lower leg tattoo name idea because you can use them to create vertical designs. It can be fun to tattoo your lower legs’ front or back with words representing your most important values, as well as giving the option for a smaller tattoo on your ankle.
Religious Leg Tattoo
From a small leg tattoo to full leg tattoo designs, there is a wide range of religious leg tattoo designs and ideas to explore.
If you want a simple but meaningful tattoo, a minimalistic design with the number of your favourite Bible verses can be an excellent idea for a small calf or front leg tattoo.
Meaningful symbols like crosses, prayer beads, praying hands, or saints can tell a deeply personal story while reminding you of your faith.
Full Leg Tattoos
Creating a full-leg tattoo design is a great way to cover an old tattoo or achieve a consistent look if you plan on covering an entire leg.
A sleeve combines minor elements and typically wraps around an arm or leg. Sleeves are popular in Japanese culture, but you’ll also see sleeves that use an American traditional style.
A big tattoo that takes up most of your thigh or lower leg can look beautiful. You might have to adapt the design to the curved lines of your legs, but a portrait, animal, flower, or other symbols that takes up your whole leg will result in a unique look.
Leg Tattoos For Dark Skin
Tattooing darker skin means that some tones will end up looking muted, but that doesn’t mean they can’t look amazing.
Red, Blue, and Green
Ink colours like red, dark blue, and dark green will complement darker skin tones. Think about replacing traditional black ink with these colours for a vibrant result.
Using white ink can result in a beautiful contrast that makes your next tattoo design’s intricate lines visible. Tattoo artists can mix white ink with different colours to create stunning designs.
Butterfly Leg Tattoo
Butterflies are a strong symbol of hope and transformation.
A small butterfly on your leg or ankle can be a fun detail that tells a personal story.
If you want to tattoo your outer thighs or get a full-leg sleeve, you can design a larger piece combining multiple butterflies with colourful flowers.
Simple Leg Tattoo
Tattoos don’t have to be large or intricate to hold meaning. These simple tattoo ideas will embellish your legs while remaining quickly and easily hidden.
A simple flower tattoo can symbolize growth and rebirth. This is the perfect idea if you’re looking for leg tattoo inspiration.
Stars can represent a positive change in your life. You can create a small design with a single star or design an aesthetic piece that combines multiple stars.
Colourful Leg Tattoos
Leg tattoo designs with colours can look stunning.
Some artists specialize in reproducing the look of a watercolour painting on your skin.
Colour blocking is a technique that allows your tattoo artist to draw sharp lines around areas with colours. This approach prevents the colours from fading over time.
A leg tattoo inspired by your favourite fandom is a fun way to celebrate the things you love. It’s also a great conversation starter!
Pop Culture Tattoo
There are countless options for getting a tattoo that celebrates your favourite band, TV show, or movie.
Getting a tattoo of your team’s logo is the ultimate way to support them.
A zodiac tattoo can say many things about your personality and what you care about.
A simple line design that recreates your astrological sign or some stars showing the constellation you were born under is a fun tattoo idea.
Sun and Moon Tattoos
Sun and moon tattoos represent opposites, such as life and death or femininity and masculinity.
Frequently Asked Questions – Leg Tattoo Ideas
Do Leg Tattoos Hurt?
It depends on the tattoo placement. Typically areas with more fat and fewer nerve endings will hurt less. The least painful areas include your front and outer thighs and the sides of your lower legs. Your shins will hurt a little more, and your knees and feet will be the most painful. You should consult your tattoo artist regarding pain levels.
How Long Does a Full-Leg Tattoo Take?
Covering your entire leg can take between 10 and 60 hours, depending on the level of detail. Your tattoo artist usually creates the design over a series of sessions lasting around five hours each. You’ll have to wait at least two weeks between sessions for healing.
Do they shave your leg before a tattoo?
Yes, it is common practice to shave any body part that is about to be tattooed, to ensure the tattoo gun is able to interact with the surface of the skin properly.