75 Absolutely Awesome Animal Tattoo Ideas for Men & Women in 2023
As variety is the spice of life, I’m so glad that the Earth has blessed us with such a large, diverse group of amazing creatures. Birds, insects, reptiles, mammals, fish, and amphibians are all so fascinating and beautiful in their own way. An animal can be our best friend or a ferocious threat that should only be admired from a distance. Luckily, whether it be a powerful predator or a cute little critter, all animals can be honored on our very own skin.
But before you go and get your own animal tattoo, let us help guide you in choosing the perfect piece of ink. Below we’ll show you the boldest, most beautiful, and most captivating animal tattoo ideas of 2023. You’ll surely be inspired with the perfect idea of which tattoo style to get, as well as where to get tattooed on your body.
With that said, let’s begin.
Japanese Crane Tattoos
The dabs of blue around these Japanese cranes look like they were painted on with a brush. Extending beyond the borders they’re suggestive of water. And beautiful. Who said you have to “paint” within the lines.
Fierce Cat Tattoo
Although the muted tones of Neo Traditional style are used here this design is anything but subtle. That’s especially true due to its size and prominent placement on the forearm. The design itself is very creative from the florals and crescent moon framing the cat’s face to the scattered dots of opaque black ink. Hear This Cat Roar
This leopard is perfectly positioned over the side of the thigh. Just as a painting needs the right wall or space to maximize its aesthetic, the same holds true with a tattoo. The addition of what appears to be mountains on the right adds interest to the overall design.
Men’s Bird Tattoo
In this tattoo we can see the the heavy outlines and vivid colors associated with New School style. The decision to use orange on both the bird’s face and the leaves creates a focal point adding interest to the design. Even the branch in the bird’s mouth is a nice unexpected touch.
This butterfly tattoo is beautifully enhanced by the surrounding dotwork. When you think of Dotwork style, think of the paintings of French Impressionist Georges Seurat. Dots are placed next to each other without ever touching. The results: a picture which looks larger than it actually is. It also adds an ethereal or delicate feel to the work. Totally Dreamy
Crocodile and Elephant Tattoos
The story of the elephant and crocodile has its origins in Hinduism. The deity Vishnu is said to have come down to earth to liberate the elephant from the cycle of birth and death. There’s also the more contemporary story highlighting that each animal has its strengths and neither is better than the other. Whatever the case this is a beautiful tattoo showcasing skilled inking and design. The repetitive use of the triangle then serves to elevate this design to another level.
Simple Snake Tattoo
Fineline style welcomes Geometric style in this simple but impressive tattoo. The curving lines of the snake’s body are accented by the surrounding angular lines. The two stand in contrast to one another serving to elevate the design. A perfect linear tattoo for the forearm.
Red Snake Tattoo on Forearm
Red ink isn’t commonly used especially as the sole color of a tattoo. Here the red lines create a pattern akin to Indian jewelry. With the contrasting areas of negative or uninked spaces, this snake is sure to be noticed. It’s Big, Bold and Beautiful
Snake Outline Tattoo
There’s something so clean-looking about this design. That’s achieved by the extremely steady even lines and the absence of any additional detailing. Using only black ink further enhances this feeling. All this plus the interesting face of the snake makes you want to take a second look as it slithers across the forearm. Very Cool
Blue Bird Tattoo
When you look at a tattoo of a bird and it seems like you can feel the texture of the feathers, you know a skilled artist is at work. The thin lines and shading are excellent. It’s interesting how the body of the bird is so detailed yet so much negative or uninked space was left in the tail. I’m not sure if this choice adds to the design. What do you think?
If you’re not tattoo-shy it follows that you wouldn’t shy away from Blackwork style. The style is bold being characterized by solid planes of black ink. Drama is the result. Of course placing such a design on the stomach might allow even the less adventurous to say yes to Blackwork style…Seen By Invitation Only
Realistic Bear Tattoo
In creating realistic likenesses the artist must be skilled at inking steady lines and creating dimensionality. That’s achieved with the use of shading and contrast. Here the artist uses only black ink and diluted solutions to achieve the varying tones of gray employed. The result is not only a realistic portrait but a beautiful one.
Women’s Owl Tattoo With Floral Design
This tattoo showcases several tattoo styles. The first is Floral with the lovely depiction of flowers. Whip style, a specialized technique, is then used to add the detailing and contrast seen on both the flowers and owl. A mandala design with its characteristic geometric pattern then completes the design. Within the Mandala there are even aspects of Ornamental style. Here shapes like jewels and feathers inspired by Greek, Roman and Indian art are added. The result: An Awesome Tattoo
Colorful Squid Tattoo
Tattoos allow you to showcase your unique style or story. To truly personalize a tattoo, a custom design might be the way to go. Obviously good communication is a must between you and your selected artist. But then again that’s always important.
Black and Gray Eagle Tattoo
Skilled use of contrast creates the light we see in this tattoo; this despite the fact that the tones which are used are all rather similar. We can differentiate individual feathers and patterns along the body. The glimmer of light reflecting off the eagle’s eye really pulls us in making it…Hard To Look Away
Black and Grey Boxer Dog Tattoo
You gotta love this face; the detail and shading give it such a realistic cool look. Just look at the light reflecting off this pup’s eyes and the wetness of the nose. Obviously Man’s Best Friend
Simple Chihuahua Tattoo
A Sketch tattoo looks just like the name implies; a sketch on a piece of paper. Characteristically there are overlapping lines and incomplete strokes. Large areas of negative or uninked space are also commonly seen. Obviously This Chihuahua Is A “Keeper”
Neo Traditional Polar Bear Tattoo
This is a beautifully designed and inked tattoo. The large snowflake and use of teal are suggestive of the Arctic; you can even sense the chill. The teal is also used to frame and highlight the polar bear. Simultaneously the bold blocks of shading render a sense of ruggedness. Awesome Tattoo.
Realistic Jaguar Tattoo
This is a stunning tattoo dripping with personality – all brought to you using only black ink and varying gray tones. There’s a soulfulness to this jaguar as seen in its eyes. You can even notice light glistening from them. The adjacent flowers also add to this feeling. Big props to the artist IG: @dani.tex for this awesome design.
Butterfly Flower Tattoo
Fineline style has become increasingly popular with the insta-crowd. Characterized by thin lines, minimal design and 2D, it’s often inked without color. This tattoo alternatively marries Fineline with Watercolor style with beautiful results. The graceful stem connecting the two butterflies is then the icing on the cake. Definitely Camera Ready
Women’s Deer Tattoo
Deer tattoos might not be that common but if you’re looking for a pretty one this design certainly fits the bill. It’s perfectly positioned on the upper back between the shoulder blades. What really sets this tattoo apart is the beautiful Watercolor inking. Here the artist skillfully applied the colors in a very detailed and precise manner. Just Perfect
Black and Gray Watercolor Tiger Lily Tattoo on Woman’s Upper Back
Flowers and Tigers? Of course if you’re one strong woman – and as a tattoo if you want to showcase that to the world. The black ink and gray tones provide detail and shading for the tiger. Of course since pink is your color you’d want to add those pretty pink flowers. Definitely Pretty In Pink
Forearm Tiger Tattoo
There are beautiful black lines and subtle shading in this tattoo. There’s a sense of movement. There’s a feeling of power. And then there’s the black line running down the tiger’s back. And that’s what centers the viewer’s eye and draws you in. It’s a small but important detail making this small but mighty tiger roar.
Sexy Bird Tattoos on Woman’s Ribs
The open wings of these two birds make them appear to be in flight over this woman’s ribs. But it’s the flow of the single curved line that really ups the ante. Beautiful. Anyone getting to see this work is among the lucky
Realistic Eagle Tattoo
This eagle is so realistic looking that it’s actually a little intimidating; especially with that fierce look. He looks like he’s ready to take a bite. Artistically the shading and resultant dimensionality are awesome. Similarly the heavy opaque inking at the top nicely mirrors the eagle’s tail resulting in a well balanced design.
Red Japanese Koi Fish Tattoo on Man’s Forearm
The first thing you notice about Japanese tattoos is that they’re large. Also they always contain symbols and themes representing Japanese culture with the Red Koi being a harbinger of love. Artistically there’s beautiful inking in this tattoo from the lines to the shading. Aesthetically I find that the Koi gets somewhat lost amongst the waves. Perhaps some darker shadowing around the Koi itself would have prevented this.
Realistic Elephant Tattoo
With steady lines and shading this elephant comes to life in exquisite detail; so much so that you can feel the leathery surface of the skin. The white ink around the eye, tusk and feet is just a small touch but one that elevates the design. Finish with dark shading at the top and bottom and you get one beautiful tattoo. Props to artist IG: @roniazevedotattoo from Natal, Brazil
Blackwork Octopus Tattoo
Blackwork style is characterized by solid, opaque layering of black ink. Here the artist employs tiny negative or uninked spaces within these opacities making it feel like you’re gazing into water. This along with the twists and turns of the octopus’ tentacles will definitely keep you looking.
Watercolor Lion Tattoo With Cub Reflection
This lion is super cool looking; fierce even though highlighted with dabs of pretty pastels. Whip style, a specialized technique, is used to create shading which appears stippled. Not immediately evident is the reflection of the lion cub.
Leopard Calf Tattoo With Flowers
The tones seen in this tattoo are beautiful. They’re soft and muted but command your attention; and respect. The darker black ink on the leopard is a nice contrast and creates a sense of power. Certainly anyone who walks behind you will want to get a closer look.
One of the Cutest Animal Tattoos You’ll See: A Small Cat Tattoo
Here kitty, kitty… and lucky for you this little guy will always be in view. The pink on the paws and the white ink around the eyes just draw you in. Nothing more is needed to declare “I love my cat”.
Cute Yellow Duckling Tattoo With Green Frog Hat
This little duckling is so cute and even more so with his green frog hat. The contrasting color of the hat is actually a cool creative detail that adds interest and frames this duckling. It’s like a hug we’d want to give this little guy.
Watercolor Clownfish Tattoo (Nemo)
Actual clownfish are playful looking so it’s perfect that Nemo is a Disney star. This little guy definitely fits the bill. Although the design is fun looking it takes considerable skill to employ Watercolors whether in paintings or tattoos. Here the colors are applied in both a precise manner as well in splashes ,spills and swirls. Sure To Make You Smile
Watercolor Lion Tattoo
This lion looks wise. It’s something about the eyes which have tremendous depth seeming to pull you in. It’s nice how their blue color is repeated on the flowers and periphery. All the colors appear to have been dabbed on creating one pretty tattoo.
Doesn’t it seem like this Nautilus is floating in the water? Its angled position and of course the varied curves of the tentacles together create this sensation.. Highlighted by beautiful thin lines and Whip style’s stippled-looking shading, this is a perfect accent for your wrist.
Watercolor Sea Turtle Tattoo
For many women the front shoulder is often a spot for a sexy tattoo. While this little guy isn’t necessarily sexy he is so cute and… beautifully inked. There’s precise application of the Watercolors on the turtle’s body. Alternatively the surrounding area is magically enhanced with splashes of color that create the perfect pond for this little guy.
Humpback Whale Tattoo on Man’s Ribs
Whip style always creates an interesting design. It’s a specialized technique that creates contrast having a stippled-like effect. Often it looks like it’s been drawn with a pencil. This technique can be used with any style but is most commonly used when inking flowers and animals.
Golden Retriever Tattoo
Everyone loves a Golden Retriever and if he’s yours you’d definitely want him close all the time. A realistic portrait on your forearm is the perfect solution. The triangular bands of heavy opaque black ink nicely frame the portrait tying it up just like a bow.
This is such a pretty Floral style tattoo. The style which is so popular actually has roots in ancient tattooing tradition. Today you can find many artists solely dedicated to this style. Here the forearm serves as the perfect canvas for this linear design.
Neo Japanese Fox Tattoo
Neo Japanese style builds upon Irezumi, the distinctive ancient style of Japanese tattooing. It’s a blending of this style along with aspects of pop culture, history and the likes and idiosyncrasies of the artist. The result: a very fresh, individualized ,unique style and as you can see Very Cool.
Watercolor Whale Shark Tattoo
This design is really hypnotizing pulling you into an apparent body of water. It’s the color of the whale shark along with its incomplete outline. It’s the negative or uninked space around it and the drops of blue.. And it’s the rich blue border that frames and highlights the whale. I love it. Artist IG: @panumart_tattoo out of Chiang Mai, Thailand
Watercolor Elephant Tattoo
Sketch style tattoos look like the design was drawn with a pencil on paper with lines often overlapping and not fully closed. The shading is usually rough and accompanied by large areas of negative or uninked space. Here the unexpected use of Watercolors is a nice creative touch.
Black and Grey Elephant Tattoos
The detailed Linework pattern seen on the elephants is called Kranok. It’s one of the most important of Thai motif patterns appearing on the doors of temples, on coffins and on Tripitaka cabinets. This tattoo is enhanced with beautiful subtle shading on the bodies of the elephants. The more dramatic shading at the bottom creates the platform supporting this lovely design.
The small flecks of black ink adjacent to the opaque black bands is a nice artistic touch. Although there’s no yellow we definitely know that this is a bumblebee. It even seems to be slowly making its way across the skin but of course this little guy isn’t going anywhere .
Blackwork Bird Tattoo
Blackwork style is bold, intriguing and super-sophisticated and this tattoo doesn’t disappoint. Here there’s the combination of thin and bold black lines along with the creative use of negative or uninked space. Beautiful Work. Artist IG: @karolinaxmir out of Nurnberg, Germany
Tiger Butterfly Tattoo With Blue Flowers
It’s not immediately evident but a tiger’s face makes up the left side of this design. So what’s up with combining a tiger with florals in a butterfly tattoo? In some cultures the butterfly represents the soul or the mind. Alternatively the tiger represents strength so combining the two makes perfect sense. Here’s To A Powerful Mind
Blackwork Fox Tattoo With Orange Eyes
The beautiful even lines and shading of this design will have you taking a second look. Then those orange eyes will keep you looking. Their color and the light glimmering off them definitely draw you in. Small touches of white ink are then like the cherry on top.
Watercolor Toucan Tattoo
If you can’t go to the rainforest why not bring it to you; in a tattoo of course. You can sense the lushness of the jungle thanks to the vibrant color palette. The peripheral colors, in contrast to the darker black and blue of the toucan, act like a frame. It’s a perfect touch to make this Toucan a standout.
Black Snake Neck Tattoo
You’ve gotta love snakes to have one slithering up your neck. Here the curved line of the snake allows for a sense of movement. Positioning it along the neck is a beautiful artistic choice that highlights the sculptural curves of the body. Impressive
This Deer Tattoo is Super Creepy
This deer is super creepy. It’s the piercing purple eyes and of course the third eye in the middle. I’m not sure of the intended meaning of this design but there’s probably a story behind it that will invite questions. Here’s To Conversation Starters
Cartoon Dog Tattoo With Dog Paw Tattoo
This is such a sweet tattoo; your pup complete with a little orange tie and surrounded by hearts and a paw print. Placing him right on your wrist is the perfect way to keep him close all the time.
A Unique Lion Tattoo
Here’s a unique lion tattoo combining the face of a lion with the sun, the stars and element of the cosmos. The lion itself is inked in Sketch style. You can see this styles’s characteristic rough shading and use of large areas of negative or uninked space. I wonder what it all means together. Any Ideas?
Realistic Leg Sleeve Tattoo of a Black Bear
A leg sleeve isn’t for the faint-hearted and that’s definitely true with this design especially if you plan on wearing shorts. For the bold though, this is one crazy good tattoo. The lines, shading and contrast are exceptional. Check the glimmer of light from between the trees. Really big props to the artist IG: @ sumok_tattooer from S Korea; home to some ol the best tattoo artists worldwide
Twin Koi Fish Back Tattoo
Twin Koi fish swimming alongside one another often symbolize the duality of life and the balance of opposing life forces. Here Fineline style is accented with Dotwork to create the pond; perfect for swimming.
Giant Rhinoceros Beetle Back Tattoo
If you’re going for bold – go big, go Blackwork style and go with a giant Rhinoceros beetle. That’s obviously the goal here from the heavy areas of opaque black ink to the stylized eyes to the splat of ink on the bottom. I don’t know if I’d want this big beetle crawling on my back but that’s what makes tattoos great. It’s Your Story; Your Choice
Mouse Tattoo With Amanita Muscaria Mushrooms
This is such a playful design from the red umbrella-like mushrooms to the vivid color palette used. The stylized shading of Neo Traditional style is evident on the face of the mouse. You can see the distinct areas of shading which are not intended to be blended. I don’t know about a mouse in your house but in this tattoo it’s a Yes.
Forearm Dog Tattoo
Although less detailed than a portrait inked in the Realistic style, this tattoo doesn’t disappoint. There’s a timelessness captured with the use of the all black palette. Of course the use of negative or uninked space makes this design work. If you’re ever in Castano Primo in the Lombardy region of Italy check out artist IG: @clodin_93
Realistic Watercolor Dog Tattoo
Watercolor paintings and tattoos don’t always have to be flowers or butterflies; case-in-point: this pup. Here the Watercolors are beautifully applied in both a precise manner alongside dabs and spills of color. There’s still enough 3D achieved for this tattoo to look totally realistic. Props to the artist IG: @clodin_93 from Castano Primo, Italy
Small Minimal Realistic Cat Tattoo With Cute Whiskers
Even if you’re not a cat lover you have to admit that this guy (or gal) is so cute. The look is tied together with cute whiskers and a touch of color on the nose and ear. The cuteness factor is further upped by setting this spherical, ball-like shape in a sea of negative or uninked space.
Women’s Koi Fish Tattoo
A single Koi fish often represents perseverance in overcoming one’s obstacles. This is a particularly beautifully inked Koi fish. With thin black lines and shading in varying tones it’s as if you can feel the texture of the scales. A sense of movement is also created by the curving lines of the body and tail. All In All – Beautiful
Forearm Bobcat Tattoo
This bobcat looks pretty ferocious from his growl to his glare. The design is really nice in how it fills the canvas provided by the forearm. Complemented by steady lines, muted shading and areas of opacity, this is an impressive tattoo.
Tiger King Tattoo on Woman’s Arm With Crown
Of course the lion is the King of the Jungle. Interesting that a female lion is depicted here so this must be the Queen of the Jungle. The attention to proportions and light is important in rendering a realistic portrait of this lion. Thin lines, shading and contrast are all used to achieve this. It’s only fitting that there’s a crown on top is highlighted by the sun.
Small Sea Turtle Tattoo, Simple Outline Only
We often find the ankle serving as the canvas for small tattoos. Creatively the turtle is set at an angle and pops of orange color are added. Sweet And Discreet
Cartoon Rabbit Tattoo
“What’s up?” – this cute rabbit tattoo of course. Fields of pigment appearing like dots characterize the shading employed with Linework style. Here it lends an endearing quality to this rabbit who’s probably harkons back to a sweet childhood memory.
Winking Cat Tattoo on Arm
This is such a cute design; who wouldn’t love a winking cat. The thin lines, contrast and shading help create a totally realistic portrait. Of course the design’s overall shape mirrors that of the biceps and is perfectly centered.
I’m not sure about a rat tattoo, especially on top of your forearm, but if you are here’s one for you. The shading is so cool and the heavy inking of the tail really looks like hair. The orange color is then a nice unexpected addition to this Blackwork style design.
Hedgehog Tattoo Listening to Music With Headphones
This small design is so creative and packs a punch. Artistically the thin black lines and pops of light glimmering off the eye and the nose are skillfully inked. I love that we can “hear” and feel the music coming from the headphones. Rock On
Two Headed Frog Tattoo
With a custom tattoo you can have whatever you want; even a two headed frog. Maybe that’s what you see when there are mushrooms around. The shading here is done by applying dots of ink which produces a totally cool look. This Is Fun
Black and Gray Gorilla Tattoo
When you’re bold enough to go for a half-sleeve guess you’re bold enough to go for this in-your-face realistic design. You can feel the texture of the lips, sense the pitting of the skin above them. If you were touch the tattoo you’d expect to feel the bristles of the hair. Look into the eyes and they’re looking back at you. True Artistry
Is This the Cutest Pug Tattoo Ever?
Yes this is definitely the cutest pug tattoo ever; I’m already in love. This little pug appears to be sitting comfortably right on the forearm. The angle of the front legs definitely helps to create this feeling. And then there are those eyes; so expressive, so captivating. Who wouldn’t want to always carry this little guy around.
Simple Platypus Tattoo
Again the ankle serves as the perfect canvas for a small Minimal style tattoo. Here only the most basic components are inked but that’s all that’s needed to create the feel that this little guy is swimming around. The large area of surrounding negative or uninked space further enhances this feeling.
Women’s Leopard Tattoo on Arm
What’s up pussycat? It looks like you’re on the prowl. This leopard comes alive with nothing more than black ink. It’s then watered down to create the varying shades of gray which are used.. There’s detail here; there’s great shading and there’s movement. When you walk away you’ll know that all eyes will be on you.
Doe Tattoo / Female Deer Tattoo
This design is simple but the heavy layering of black ink is super sophisticated. The lines are so even as are the black opaque areas. And you can’t forget those doe-like eyes complete with long eyelashes.
Brush Style Birds on a Branch Tattoo
Brush style tattoos create the texture of a paintbrush on canvas. Here this is especially evident in the branches although this style is used throughout the tattoo.
Minimalist Chameleon Tattoo on Woman’s Forearm
With Minimal style “less is more”. Although chameleons are known for changing color, this little guy is perfect without any. He’s cute, sweet and perfect for the tattoo-newbie. Bet This Won’t Be The Last
Manta Ray Tattoos
These manta rays appear to be swimming right across the thigh. A sense of movement is created by the varying orientations of the rays’ bodies and fins. The shading is nicely highlighted by the adjacent areas of negative or uninked space. This Is Flow
Great White Shark Tattoo
Simplicity is often powerful as evidenced here. Devoid of much detail, this shark is still a shark – one of nature’s most powerful predators. The orientation of the shark creates the illusion that it’s actually swimming in a sea of water. All the surrounding negative or uninked space serves to heighten this perception.
Awesome Octopus Tattoo
Although an octopus tattoo isn’t for everyone, this is great tattooing. The detailing seen – from the suction cups on the tentacles to the shimmers of light on the body – is impressive. And who could miss the awesome shading and steady lines. If you’re a fan of “My Octopus Teacher” this design might be for you.
Colorful Jellyfish Tattoo
The Watercolors are so precisely applied in this tattoo that the colors seamlessly flow from one to another. The colors are also used here to create awesome shading resulting in light that glimmers off the body. Wonder if jellyfish are this pretty in person.
Stingray Tattoo With Planets of the Solar System
This design combines different elements and styles but in a seamless, creative way. Black ink alone is used and then watered down to create the varying shades of gray. Beautiful thin lines and even planets of the solar system are added to the design mix.. This Is Custom Tattooing