50 Thrilling & Meaningful Leg Tattoo Ideas By Tattoo Designers

Looking what tattoo for leg to get? You’re in the right place!

Leg tattoos have been more and more popular, especially for people looking to get a big and elaborate tattoo.

When searching for leg tattoo ideas, there are various roads to take – either a small or medium tattoo, all the way to full leg tattoo sleeves.

Let’s take a deep dive, discuss ideas, and find our best leg tattoo inspiration below!

What To Consider Before Getting a Leg Tattoo?

The human leg, in the general word sense, is the entire lower limb of the human body, including the foot, thigh or sometimes even the hip or gluteal region.

In adults skin covers a surface area of approximately 22 square feet (2 square meters).

So, taking into account that legs are large limbs that take a lot of this space, it’s safe to say leg tattoo is a great way to get a big tattoo or a lot smaller tattoos.

Just like forearm tattoos, leg tattoos are easy to hide depending on your wardrobe.

Also, a leg sleeve tattoo is considered one of the biggest tattoo projects you can take on.

Although there are not strict rules saying if a certain piece is a good choice to be a tattoo for leg, here are some of our thoughts to consider when thinking of leg tattoo ideas.

šŸ¦µPortraits are usually done on thigh or calf area

šŸ¦µThe upper outer thigh is one of the least painful places to get a tattoo. This part of the body is well padded with fat and has few nerve endings.

šŸ¦µThe ankles and shins, the knees and feet are one of the most painful areas.

šŸ¦µ In summer, make sure to also apply sunscreen on your leg tattoos in case they are healing or colorful tattoos.

šŸ¦µNote that in the case of a knee tattoo you should count with a week of low movement, so as not to move the joint too much and impede the healing process.

šŸ¦µThere are 3 types of leg sleeve tattoos: full leg sleeve tattoo (hip to ankles), half leg sleeve tattoo (hip to knee or below the knee to ankles), 3/4 leg sleeve tattoo (from mid thigh to ankles).

All Possible Leg Tattoo Placements

We can separate leg in various sections when it comes to tattoos.

That said, here we recommend some ideas depending on the placement:

  • calf tattoo – great for portraits, or elongated animal face tattoos, such as wolves, bears, eagles, owls, and similar.
  • back of the leg tattoo – unless part of a sleeve, in which case back of the leg would be 1 part of a bigger scene, many people go for ornamental tattoos such as mandala, or matching traditional tattoos (like two swallows, or two roses on each back of the leg) or two koi fish swimming.
  • thigh tattoo -as previously said, this is a great choice for an elaborate portrait, and elaborate mandala design as well as a large animal scene tattoo, such as lions with their cubs, or a large floral vertical tattoo that spans from hip to above the knee.
  • knee tattoo – unless part of a sleeve, knees are a great choice for a round and thick design, such as traditional roses on each knee, or an animal face.
  • ankle tattoo – butterflies, birth flower tattoos, bees, crosses, and similar feminine and dainty details are a wonderful choice for a narrow and elegant ankle tattoo.
  • half leg sleeve tattoo – if below the knee, a half leg sleeve is a great tribal tattoo such asĀ  Polynesian one, or a Japanese style large scene.
  • leg sleeve tattoo – leg sleeves are a great way to elaborate a big scene: a large geometric leg tattoo, a large trash polka piece, or a realistic leg sleeve tattoo on any number of topics (religious, movies, tribal, animal, jungle, and many more).

Leg Tattoo Ideas

To help you with your research for your next tattoo design, we went on a hunt through Instagram to find the best leg tattoo ideas.

Take a look below to check them out all:

1. Leg Sleeve Tattoo

Getting a leg sleeve tattoo is an ambitious project saved for very few.

If you are getting a dense, realistic, fully coverage leg sleeve tattoo with a theme like Greek mythology for example, it will be a lot of hours under the needle, and you’ll need a lot of expertise on composition, element distribution and color.

A leg sleeve can also be composed out of various smaller tattoos, that create a sort of patchwork leg sleeve tattoo. This is common when done in American traditional style, blackwork or the new ignorant style.

2. Leg Sleeve Tattoo For Women

For many women, getting a mandala leg sleeve tattoo is a great option for a slick and elegant design, especially in the upper part of the leg.

Another common option is dainty designs around the leg in fineline style.

Realistic or abstract designs such as this Native American woman are also commonly used for rich designs.

3. Half Leg Sleeve Tattoo

Half leg sleeve tattoo is a great option when you want to tell a story in a circular way, yet lack space on your arms (or want it more hidden).

Many Celtic tattoo designs are used in this way, or tribal tattoos as well as realism on many different topics.

4. Male Calf Leg Tattoo

A male calf leg tattoo is a great spot for many various topics – fantasty, realistic motifs, hobbies, tribals, etc.

The surface is by no means small, and it’s flatness allows space to develop a theme well.

5. Back Of The Leg Tattoo

As said above, back of the leg tattoo is great for those hidden yet aesthetic choices.

If the hamstrings are not covered in a leg sleeve tattoo, you can use this section to create a play between both backs of the leg.

It’s a great area to have some ornamentals playing off of each other, matching traditional tattoos or one medium piece on one side.

6. Snake Leg Tattoo

Snake tattoo is a staple in the tattoo community.

From American traditional snake, through Japanese Iresumi all the way to realistic or fineline snakes, the leg allows a lot of space for the whole snake’s body to be seen.

In all its details and glory.

7. Snake Wrapped Around Leg Tattoo

Large snakes are usually all wrapped up in a circle or long coils.

That said, a snake wrapped around leg tattoo is the full snake representation, in all its glory and meaning.

8. Dragon Leg Tattoo

Dragon tattoo is a hallmark of fantasy tattoos, and a dragon leg tattoo provides a lot of room for variation.

From a full dragon leg tattoo sleeve, to a small dragon on the ankle, there is no right or wrong.

Feel free to develop any scene you’d like based on the exact placement you choose.

9. Butterfly Leg Tattoo

Butterfly leg tattoo usually implies that there is a smaller tattoo somewhere on the leg.

Several butterflies on the ankles or thighs are the common choice.

A big butterfly thigh tattoo is also an option. Make sure to pair them with more elements to get a bigger size!

10. Girly Back of Leg Tattoo

For girl back of the leg tattoo ideas, we offer a crystal tattoo, a tiger tattoo as well as a cool movie dance reference.

For this type make sure that the tattoo is small to medium, as well as done in a colorful or fineline tattoo style for the feminine effect.

11. Tribal Leg Tattoo

Tribal leg tattoo is a common choice, especiall for the ones looking to get a Polynesian, African or Native American tribal tattoo.

Especially the shin is is an area commonly used for a tribal tattoo, as well as a half leg sleeve.

12. Japanese Leg Sleeve Tattoo

Japanese leg sleeve tattoos represent a remarkable way of developing a theme of the typical Japanese tattoos.

Many of them take dozens of hours to complete, but there are tattoo designs that have taken over 80 hours.

Of course, the tattooing itself happens over the course of various sessions, and the time between the sessions will depend on how quickly you heal.

Popular Japanese leg sleeve tattoo designs include dragons, kanji symbols, samurai warriors, koi fish, geishas, sakura blossoms, and more.

13. Lion Leg Tattoo

To help you with your research for your next tattoo design, we went on a hunt through Instagram to find the best elephant tattoo ideas.

Take a look below to check them out all:

14. Side Leg Tattoo

If you want to get a good use out of all the vertical space that the side of the leg can offer you, getting a side leg tattoo is a great option.

Depending on how tall are you, you get a lot of inches in length, albeit only a few in width up to the knee.

With the wideness of the side thigh, you can further elaborate your side of the leg tattoo in any different ways.

Celtic knots, flames of fire, writing, or any different abstract tattoos are an option!

15. Octopus Leg Tattoo

Octopus leg tattoo is very famous, and for a good reason.

The octopus’ head can be placed on the knee or the center of the thigh, and its tentacles spreading around the upper leg or below the knee.

Are you looking for a custom leg tattoo design? We got you.

Our expert tattoo artists will provide a quick initial draft to get you going.
Happy inking ā¤

Milena Petrovic

Milena Petrovic

Co-founder of Tattoo Stylist

About the author

Milena has decided to start an organization that will create a safe environment for everybody to get their first, second or third tattoo and toĀ encourage young people to transform their ideas into tattoos safely, with talent and vision.

You can find her writing about tattoos on Quora or updating our Pinterest profile with awesome tattoo ideas!

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