31 Unique Rib Tattoos for Men in 2023
The rib cage is a popular area for tattoo designs, with an unlimited variety of concepts and themes to explore. From minimalist line art and simple script to hyper-realistic or neo-traditional bold color pieces, any application or thematic concept can make successful rib tattoos for men. Elaborate rib tattoo designs require skill, creativity, and good execution to make them work, but they are awe-inspiring when the look, meaning, and placement come together perfectly.
But before you go and get your rib tattoo, let us help guide you in choosing the perfect piece of ink. Below we’ll show you the most interesting, innovative, and creative rib tattoos for men in 2023. You’ll surely be inspired with the perfect idea of which tattoo style to get, as well as the size, and exact rib placement on your body.
With that said, let’s begin.
Rib Tattoos for Men: A Blackwork Buck Tattoo
An awesome blackwork buck tattoo design featuring a variety of wicked curved lines to create the pelt of the animal. The blackness of the ink makes the deer more imposing and strong, creating a masculine tattoo capped by beautiful, jagged antlers.
“Family” Thai Script Tattoo on Man’s Ribs
A clean, flowing Thai script tattoo flowing horizontally across the ribs. It’s a simple but effective black block tattoo that uses the naturally flowing script to good effect. The Thai text translates to “family” in English.
Abstract Pencil Tattoo on Man’s Rib Cage
A brilliantly abstract, thick-lined rib tattoo – this style of application is a specialty of the artist and for good reason! The piece uses solid warm colors for background framing, overlaid with thick lines to make the pencil and thick drawn line larger than life. The matching of the artist’s skills with the client’s concept equals an innovative artwork that will draw comments from veteran tattoo lovers and newcomers!
Blackwork Knife Tattoo Design for Men
A brilliant concept piece combining the realism of a chef’s kitchen knife with Manga art principles for the eyes inside the blade. The knife blade is a frame that acts as a manga panel for the expert black-inked visage within. The artist demonstrates technical mastery in linework – especially in the knife handle’s crosshatch pattern – and smart, but minimal, use of white highlights to finish off the tattoo.
Neo-Traditional Cactus Tattoo for Men
This split-screen Neo-traditional cactus tattoo is cool – it pops with vitality and individuality! The contrast between the fat black outlines of one half, and the vibrant colors and shading opposite, shows great artistic skill. Judging by the other stencils, this central piece will be added to, creating a larger rib tattoo of unique style and placement.
Blackwork Walking Lion Rib Cage Tattoo
This black ink upright lion tattoo compares to medieval banners, flags, and insignia. It primarily utilizes thick lines for the frame (check out the heavy lines of spinal black ink) balanced by intricate technical slashes and shadow effects to make up the lion’s fur, mane, and tail.
Lotus Flash Tattoo on Ribs
This classily executed lily tattoo uses the artist’s flash design, who then creates beautifully detailed petals and leaves by alternating grayscale shading with negative space. It’s a simple design but very stylish, using the client’s ribs and hip to build more flow for the nicely etched flowers.
New-School Black Duality Tattoo
This black ink rib tattoo draws inspiration from street art and graffiti to create the concept of duality, in this case, old versus new. The piece juxtaposes modern technology represented by the video recording device and contrasts the pillar it sits on, which is reminiscent of Ancient Greece or Rome. The artist creates a brilliant stencil effect along the ribs, like a trail of thick spray paint. There will be no issues with this rib tattoo holding up forever!
Neo-Traditional Octopus Rib Tattoo
A neo-traditional octopus rib tattoo that pops with vivid colors. The maroon tentacles and simple suckers (black against the beast’s underside), when contrasted against the purple/green bubbles and eye, are a vibrant and well-considered choice. I like how the black shadow is laid over the top of the brighter color to create a more imposing octopus.
Realistic Black Panther Tattoo on Black Skin
This delicate black panther piece relies on realism rather than color, with lovely shading techniques and angles. The grayscale creates exceptional details in fur and fang, while the strong musculature builds from the smart shading effects. White ink highlights add a finishing flourish, helping delineate the features and claws of the panther.
Black and Gray Abstract Flower Pot Tattoo on Rib Cage
Vases and flower arrangements are not traditionally associated with rib tattoos for men. This one is an outlier – an arresting tattoo that combines realistic black and gray detail cut through by an abstract human eye. The piece is tremendously detailed and realistic despite using abstract concepts. The artist displays near-flawless technical skill in crafting gray ink shadows and distinctive patterns that create interesting individual features.
Realism Great White Shark Tattoo
This great white shark tattoo skillfully uses the shape of the client’s ribs to create the Illusion of a swimming hunter. The tattoo looks lifted straight from the pages of the National Geographic magazine, given the precision details in shaded skin tones and fins.
Men’s Rib Tattoo - Grayscale Realistic Spanish Galleon Tattoo
A beautifully etched grayscale rib tattoo of a Spanish galleon. Much of the tattoo’s detail comes from shading patterns, such as the billowing sails and chasing clouds. The web of rigging that flows between masts and sails adds another layer of complexity.
Abstract Blackwork Eye Rib Tattoo for Men
This cool black ink rib tattoo is simple yet creates an abstract theme by imprinting shadow effects in different directions. The eye is reminiscent of a photo negative; there’s no shade, and the solid black ink contrasts the other fuzzier shapes noticeably. The piece looks like a print hanging in a trendy restaurant or on an album cover from the mid-1980s.
Blackwork Triskull Horror Tattoo
This is an interesting and unusual horror-themed tattoo. A trio of realistic skulls are entwined in the skeleton of a butterfly. Judging from the difference in background from the left side to the right side, this tattoo looks to be a cover-up of an old piece.
Sketch Humpback Whale Tattoo on Man’s Ribs
This is a beautifully drawn and skillfully executed sketch-style tattoo of a humpback whale. The deft lines of the whale’s body contrast the different shading directions, subtly imprinting the big mammal’s markings. The infinity-style wave is an effective secondary image used to frame the tattoo across the ribs.
Black and Gray Stylized Knight Tattoo
This masterful black and gray tattoo incorporates the bust and helmet of a medieval knight with an oversized Morningstar (the ball and chain weapon). The artist has crafted menace by using the upper part of a dark cloak, clasped with a small skull, to create another shading/bridging option, while the helm is made to look well-worn through impressive crisscrossing lines. The absence of features behind the faceguard – there’s only blackness – adds another layer of foreboding.
Neo-Classical David Statue Tattoo on Ribs
Who needs to see the statue of Michaelangelo’s David when you carry it around with you, inked into your skin? This Neo-classical rib tattoo is a faithful reproduction of the beautiful statue. Intense gray shading and soft but sure-handed linework help recreate the Italian Renaissance ideal of male beauty.
Realistic Heron and Skull Tattoo on Rib Cage
This elaborate, large heron tattoo, depicts the bird perched on top of a human skull. The artist has created brilliant depth in the image by using a variety of line and shading techniques to craft four different types of feathers. He also uses the client’s rib cage to provide a natural shape for the bird’s outspread wings to follow.
Linework Dragon Skeleton Tattoo
It’s rare to see a tattoo of a dragon’s skeleton, given how difficult it is to create so many bones into an interlocking piece of art. The artist spent a long time crafting the tattoo, with many lines, connections, and angles to etch in. The dagger accompanying the dragon bones uses heavy shading to make the hilt and sheath resemble dragon scales. It’s a unique and exciting tattoo that took painstaking patience, a sure eye, and impressive attention to small details.
Neo-Traditional Wizard Rib Tattoo
This Neo-traditional wizard deploys a color palette matching the other ink on the client’s upper body. While garish color clashing is a factor in these designs, bright orange is a strange choice when balanced against the black and yellow of the wizard’s hat and the blue shade of the spellcaster’s orb.
Abstract Vampire Blackwork Tattoo
This is a rare and unique abstract tattoo featuring an extremely sad vampire. There are no sharp, flashing fangs or Dracula looks, just long-fingered hands and a sallow face cloaked elegantly in a detailed black cloak reminiscent of a bat’s wing. It’s a brilliant piece!
Blackwork Animal Trap Rib Tattoo Design
A crisp blackwork tattoo of an animal trap that you see in movies and old cartoons. The artist has built the illusion of bright steel by using negative space to conjure a gleaming, 3D effect that makes the piece seem more dangerous and aggressive. You can picture the sharp jaws snapping shut!
Realistic Greek Hoplite Spartan Tattoo
This Greek soldier is the pinnacle of finely detailed realism tattooing. The detailed lines, patterns and subtle gray shades packed into the hoplite’s helm, breastplate, belt, and bracers are staggering in their quality! The red horse hair headpiece and green wreath make a delightful contrast that frames the piece while also providing a colorful aspect that lightens the overall feel of the tattoo.
Sexy Anime Cover-Up Rib Tattoo
A well-executed, sexy anime chick is a wonderful design choice in rib tattoos for men! The bright red-colored costume, big bust, and bandaged forearms do wonders for this femme fatale, especially in a cover-up situation. The artist obscures previous tattoo work with her black hair pointing upwards, and smart use of leg placement.
Black and Gray Tiger Rib Tattoo
This piece is a nicely drawn realism-style tiger tattoo. The artist has focused on the big cat’s stripes as the feature component and done a good job of creating the impression the tiger is hunting. The artist uses bamboo in various shades to provide framing and filler for the animal. There’s scope to add to this design idea or incorporate it into another concept later.
Abstract Eye and Straight Razor Tattoo
This illustrative rib tattoo combines two separate and distinct elements into a single abstract piece – both crafted to showcase brilliant ‘fuzzy’ shading skills. The straight razor is realistic and frames the beautiful, crisply etched eye. Simple white ink highlights in the deep black iris and along the razor handle are a simple yet classy finishing touch.
Neo-Traditional Kitsune (Fox) Tattoo
This is a classic Japanese kitsune, the fabled fox with shape-shifting abilities that acts as a spirit messenger between the living and the dead. Japanese tattoos like this have been instrumental in the explosion of vivid neo-traditional ink. Rather than a limited color palette, the inks used are bright, the lines thick and expressive, with great flow and many more shade elements than you would find in a classical old-school design.
Perfume Bottle Black Heart Tattoo
This is a nifty blackwork perfume tattoo incorporating a heart. The application technique is excellent – a clever combination of linework and negative space makes it seem like a solid glass bottle with a see-through label.
Line Art Cat’s Face Tattoo
Simple is beautiful when it comes to line art tattooing, and this rib piece is the perfect example. There’s nothing wild about it, just a collection of flowing lines forming a mischievous cat when connected.
Watercolor Art and Recliner Tattoo
Put some art in your body art! This quirky rib tattoo design uses watercolor principles to create a painting and accompanying viewing chair. I love the combination of colors used and how the recliner looks like embroidery. My only quibble: will it age well?