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105+ Water Tattoo Ideas to Help You Go With the Flow

by Sherri Owens

From water droplets to traditional artwork, there are so many water tattoos for you to choose from!

Water is my favorite element - it is a representation of power, cleanliness, and new beginnings. So, it is always a fun appointment for me when I get to ink water tattoos. What's more, I also get to listen to the unique associations that my clients have with such tattoo designs.

In this post, I will share the top water tattoo ideas and walk you through the significance of these designs as well!

The Best Water Tattoo Ideas

Here are the top water tattoo designs to consider for yourself:

Water Drop Tattoos

A water drop tattoo can be a great idea if you want a smaller tattoo. Even a single water drop can be indicative of an entire body of water. And, so, this kind of water tattoo can have the same meaning as a lake, river, etc. or even the human body since it is largely made up of water.

Dotted Single Rain Droplet Arm Tattoo

Image by @johnb.designs via Instagram

One of the coolest things about this kind of water tattoo, though, is that it can have its own special meaning as well. A single drop or few drops in a water tattoo can depict taking a closer look at something magnificent.

Negative Space Rain Drop Arm Tattoo

Image by @paralinetattoo via Instagram

This type of water tattoo can be a symbol for appreciating the finer details of the bigger picture. After all, if you take a close look at a water drop, it can be just as fascinating as a large body of water.

Also, there is no denying that a water drop can be beautiful and mesmerizing. So, this kind of water tattoo can be a great way for you to truly admire the components of something exquisite.

Glowing Rain Drop Arm Tattoo

Image by @waterpro_of via Instagram

Now, there are a few different ways to bring this kind of water tattoo to life. You can get a water tattoo of a single falling droplet or a few droplets.

You can also get a water tattoo of a droplet on a surface. This can be a spherical droplet - you can choose to add a surface in your water tattoo or not.

Colored Falling Rain Drop Arm Tattoo

Image by @mazgirl_tattoos via Instagram

In case you want to get a bit creative with your water tattoo, then you can depict the water droplet in a different shape like a heart.

Want to take things one step farther with your water tattoo? Then make it look like the water droplet is on top of another image - this will make it look the image underneath is amplified in size and detail.

Blue Crystalized Water Drop Feet Tattoo

Image by @deathcaptattoo via Instagram

Last, but certainly not least, you can choose to get a water tattoo that contains a picture within a water droplet. While this is certainly a unique tattoo, keep in mind that you will need a talented tattoo artist to help you pull it off.

Galaxy Water Droplet Arm Tattoo

Image by @o.ri_tattoo via Instagram

Blue Bubble Water Drop Arm Tattoo

Image by @default_blue_tt via Instagram

Marble Ball Water Drop Arm Tattoo

Image by @inkhappened via Instagram

Heart Shape Water Drop Wrist Tattoo

Image by @needsyou_tattoo via Instagram

Smiley Face Water Drop Arm Tattoo

Image by @yeontaan via Instagram

Cheetah Roaring Water Drop Arm Tattoo

Image by @yarsugenc.tattoo via Instagram

Crystallized Water Droplets Dropping Leg Tattoo

Image by @siia.ink via Instagram

Water Ripple Tattoos

If you are looking for more complex water tattoo ideas, then you should consider ripple water tattoos.

Now, this is an expansion of the water droplet water tattoo. Here, you show a water droplet falling into a watery surface. As it does so, ripples form.

Water Drop Ripple Effect Arm Tattoo

Image by @altertattoos via Instagram

There are a few different kinds of such water tattoos so there are a variety of design options for you to choose from.

If you want to keep your water tattoo fairly minimal, then you can simply use a water drop and concentric circles to depict the ripple. Otherwise, you can choose to go with detailed, rippling blue water tattoos.

Concentric Ripple Water Tattoo

Image by @squiggs.tattoos via Instagram

Of course, it isn't just about realism with these water tattoos. As with most interesting tattoos, you are free to take some creative license here.

This means that you can make it look like the water is falling from something else - lips, plants, etc. Or, you can choose to do it up in different colors - a watercolor tattoo would be quite lovely here.

Reflected Ripple Water Drop Arm Tattoo

Image by @ale.tattooart via Instagram

You can even decide to not show the water drop in this water tattoo. Instead, just have one or more ripples next to one another.

Now, such water tattoos aren't just about beauty although they are certainly aesthetically pleasing. These tattoo designs can also make for some meaningful ink.

Blue Dandelions Ripple Water Back Tattoo

Image by @squiggs.tattoos via Instagram

This kind of water tattoo can be a symbol of disruption. So, if you are looking to make a change in your life, you may be waiting for that water drop.

Or, such a water tattoo can also be a reminder to you of how even the smallest force can have quite the impact. So, this water tattoo can be a depiction of either actions or consequences.

Detailed Front View Ripple Water Tattoo

Image by @corywesleytattoo via Instagram

Colored Water Ripple Arm Tattoo

Image by @ratgirltattoo via Instagram

Dotted Ripple Waves Arm Tattoo

Image by @blackdot.tattoos via Instagram

Dripping Plant Arm Tattoo

Image by @chop_stick_n_poke via Instagram

Honey Lips Dripping Leg Tattoo

Image by @flores_kierstin via Instagram

Sakura Tree Fall in Drops Upper Arm Tattoo

Image by @stevesartinmotion via Instagram

Realistic Water Drop Ripple Effect Back Tattoo

Image by @tattwho via Instagram

Slant Water Drop Ripple Arm Tattoo

Image by @ink_vic via Instagram

Water Splash Tattoos

Another cool tattoo idea with water elements is the water splash tattoo. As the name suggests, this kind of water tattoo showcases a splash of water.

Water Splash Flowing Arm Tattoo

Image by @philipppfohl via Instagram

Now, there is a lot to like about water tattoo ideas such as these. For one thing, it is certainly a unique and interesting water tattoo. So, if you are looking for something a little different, then this is definitely a great concept to consider.

Water Splash Strand Arm Tattoo

Image by @nooytattoo via Instagram

There is also the fact that there is something very delicate yet refreshing about this kind of water tattoo. After all, a splash of water can help you to cool down, perk you up, or even snap you out of a daze!

Flying Butterflies and Water Splash Arm Tattoo

Image by @eggsy_tattoo via Instagram

Just bear in mind that such water tattoos are pretty complex - especially if you decide to get it done in white and blue ink. This is the kind of water tattoo that needs to be done by an experienced and detail oriented tattoo artist.

Realistic Blue Water Splash Wrist Tattoo

Image by @soltattoo via Instagram

Twisted Water Splash Upper Arm Tattoo

Image by @tattooist_oz via Instagram

Two Water Splash Collide Arm Tattoo

Image by @guseul_tattoo via Instagram

Detailed Water Splash Arm Tattoo

Image by @redhaare via Instagram

Water Splash Flowing Arm Tattoo

Image by @philipppfohl via Instagram

Bursting Water Splash Arm Tattoo

Image by @natasharachelfineline via Instagram

Curved Blue Water Splash Tattoo

Image by @guseul_tattoo via Instagram

Realistic Curved Water Splash Ankle Tattoo

Image by @renytattoos via Instagram

Water Splashing Rib Tattoo

Image by @nemo.tattoo via Instagram

Abstract Water Tattoos

If you have ever watched water flowing, it can give you the feeling of seeing something untamed, wild, and beautiful. In case you would like to capture this feeling in a water tattoo, then you may want to consider abstract water tattoos.

Heart Flowing Water Arm Tattoo

Image by @kylearcherza via Instagram

Now, with these beautiful water tattoos, there is no rhyme, reason, or even structured design. Rather, it is all about tapping into the free flowing elements of water.

Free Flowing Water Shoulder Tattoo

Image by @chop_stick_n_poke via Instagram

With such water tattoo ideas, it is up to you how much you want your tattoo to look like realistic water. If you want, you can have a water tattoo design that only minimally resembles water but you can use blue ink to reinforce the idea behind this design.

Realistic Water Black Upper Arm Tattoo

Image by @sabi.tattoo.sg via Instagram

If you are someone who likes to push the envelope with water tattoos, then this design works well as watercolor tattoos as well.

One of the cool things about these water tattoos is that they can be designed to fit almost anywhere in your body. If you want something a little more subtle, then you can have your water tattoo on your upper arm.

Two Elegant Water Shoulder Tattoo

Image by @samsara.tattoo via Instagram

In case you are considering sleeve tattoos, then you may want one that starts on the upper arm then moves its way down.

Not worried about showing off your abstract water tattoo? Then you can have a water tattoo that starts on your hand and spreads to your wrist and even forearm.

Black Running Water Hand Tattoo

Image by @leon.gzo via Instagram

Zigzag Water Thigh Tattoo

Image by @sadinthegarden via Instagram

Blue Wavy Water Hand Tattoo

Image by @jakobbelbin via Instagram

Blue Running Water Line Shoulder Tattoo

Image by @clara.tattoos via Instagram

Fine Line Splashing Water Thigh Tattoo

Image by @suu_tatt via Instagram

Continuous Black Water Line Arm Tattoo

Image by @sasha_tooth via Instagram

Colored Abstract Water Arm Tattoo

Image by @souzavictor.art via Instagram

Watercolor Black Ripple Water Arm Tattoo

Image by @graphicward via Instagram

Stream Tattoos

If you are looking for calming water tattoo ideas, then a gentle river or stream tattoo is one to think about.

For such water tattoo designs, there are a couple of approaches to take. If you want a simpler water tattoo, then you can have a more abstract stream tattoo.

Delicate River with Flowers Arm Tattoo

Image by @zik_tats via Instagram

Here, you can have a few curved lines done up in blue to show the current of the water. You can also have some aquatic plants in between to add a bit more structure to your water tattoo.

Diamond Sunny Nature River Upper Arm Tattoo

Image by @belltreeink via Instagram

In case you are on the lookout for more complex water tattoos, then you should consider going for a landscape tattoo. This means including lots of other details like banks, mountains, clouds, sun, and perhaps even animals in your water tattoo.

Such details can help to capture the serene flow of water in your water tattoo.

Red Moon Stream with Flowers Leg Tattoo

Image by @zik_tats via Instagram

Of course, the level of detail that you want to include in your water tattoo is entirely up to you. So, you can add as few or as many natural components as you like.

River in Mountain Forest Arm Tattoo

Image by @zoefowletattoo via Instagram

Now, even if you do want a more detailed stream water tattoo, this doesn't automatically mean that you need to go for a large tattoo design. If you do want a smaller water tattoo, perhaps on your upper arm, then you may want to consider using geometric shapes to help create a frame around the tattoo.

Beautiful Scenery of Stream in Mountain Arm Tattoo

Image by @a.j.tattoos via Instagram

Not only does this help to create smaller water tattoos, but it also helps your water tattoo ideas to feel more structured as a result too.

Nature Forest River Upper Arm Tattoo

Image by @tattoosbyandrewsussman via Instagram

Big Stone River Upper Arm Tattoo

Image by @ashpayne_tattoos via Instagram

Man Fishing in Stream Arm Tattoo

Image by @richyreynolds via Instagram

Floral Stream Line Colored Arm Tattoo

Image by @kodzunak via Instagram

Stone River Arm Tattoo

Image by @davidroduit via Instagram

Waterfall River in Forest Arm Tattoo

Image by @cassy.jones.tattoo via Instagram

Deep Blue Stream Line Arm Tattoo

Image by @kodzunak via Instagram

Lake Tattoos

Next up in the water tattoo ideas lineup are lake tattoos. These water tattoos are also great for anyone looking for calming tattoo designs.

Now, typically with such water tattoos, you do have to include a bit more detail - this is the only way to really distinguish your water tattoo as a lake tattoo.

Flying Bird and Duck in Lake Wrist Tattoo

Image by @nightintheforesttattoo via Instagram

So, what kind of additional elements should you add to your water design? Well, keep in mind that the level of detail is up to you.

In case you want a smaller or less complex tattoo, then it can be enough to just have a deck overlooking a lake. Or, you can have a boat in a lake.

Wooden Walkway at a Lake Arm Tattoo

Image by @trfart via Instagram

Then, depending on how much detail you would like to add to your water tattoo, you can include a shore, mountains, trees, cabins, etc.

If you visited or continue to visit a lake, then you may want to use this view as inspiration for your water tattoo. This can also be a great way to personalize your water tattoo a little more.

Geometric Sunny Lake Upper Arm Tattoo

Image by @sarahkingart via Instagram

Boat Sailing at a Lake Arm Tattoo

Image by @scm_ink via Instagram

Sunset View Forest Lake Upper Arm Tattoo

Image by @jennie_kiebler_art via Instagram

Dawn Forest Reflection Lake Leg Tattoo

Image by @jwhitttattooer via Instagram

Ticket Design Mountain Lake and Flowers Arm Tattoo

Image by @lablackmedusa._ink via Instagram

Circle Reflection Mountain Lake Chest Tattoo

Image by @strangeworldtattoo via Instagram

Cute Blue Heart Shape Lake Leg Tattoo

Image by @nakagawa.tattoo via Instagram

Wooden Pathway Lake in Antique Frame Arm Tattoo

Image by @kaspark via Instagram

Detailed Negative Space Lake Matching Tattoo

Image by @melissa_daye via Instagram

Colored Lake in Diamond Shape Rib Tattoo

Image by @drztattoos via Instagram

Wave Tattoos

Wave tattoos are some of my favorite water tattoo ideas. This is because they allow you to condense the vast ocean into a smaller water tattoo design.

Line Wave Arm Tattoo

Image by @szalaimimi via Instagram

I also love that there are so many different ways to work with wave water tattoos. For instance, if you want a simple wave tattoo, then it is just a matter of getting a minimalistic outline. These water tattoos are so small that they can be placed practically anywhere that you want - even behind your ear!

Simple Wave Arm Tattoo

Image by @daintylines_tattooing via Instagram

Of course, you are also free to go all out with such water tattoos. This means adding plenty of detail to the tattoo - getting the curve of the wave, the crest, and even a bit of spray just right. You can also kick things up a notch with your wave tattoo but going with realistic colors.

Crescent Moon, Sun and Curved Wave Tattoo

Image by @paupau_pokes via Instagram

There are also lots of ways to be creative with this kind of water tattoo. You can get the wave done in a particular shape. Or, you can have it framed within a geometric shape. In fact, you can have an actual picture frame surrounding it!

Creative Art Wave Arm Tattoo

Image by @soyoon_tt via Instagram

You can also include other environmental or landscape elements into your water tattoo to create a more realistic picture.

Landscape Wave Arm Tattoo

Image by @astree__ via Instagram

Moon Wave Arm Tattoo

Image by @ via Instagram

Geometric Scenery Waves Back Tattoo

Image by @tattooist_cayle via Instagram

Vintage Mirror Waves Colored Upper Arm Tattoo

Image by @tattsha_ via Instagram

Circle Wave Arm Tattoo

Image by @stateofmindink via Instagram

Fine Line Landscape Waves Arm Tattoo

Image by @casey.tat via Instagram

Clockwise Wave Arm Tattoo

Image by @merievermeij via Instagram

Blue Waves and Moon Arm Tattoo

Image by @namitaa___ and skinks.tattoo via Instagram

Ocean Tattoos

As you can imagine, ocean tattoos do require some careful planning. This is because it can be difficult to capture the vastness of the ocean. So, you have to figure out how to depict a small portion of the sea on your skin.

Pink Ocean Sunset Arm Tattoo

Image by @default_blue_tt via Instagram

The good news for you is that there are a few ways to do this. You can actually take an abstract approach to your tattoo if you want. The cool thing about this kind of water tattoo is that it is essentially colorful scribbles.

Then, you can include the horizon just to help put the picture into perspective.

Colorful Ocean Sunset Upper Arm Tattoo

Image by @philgarcia805 via Instagram

Your other option is to include a snippet of the sea and the sky. For this kind of water tattoo, though, it is best if you choose a more realistic style as it makes it easier to figure out what the tattoo is about.

Ocean Waves, Shells, and Stone Arm Tattoo

Image by @leewestartwork via Instagram

To put your ocean water tattoo into context, you can also include the shore in the tattoo. You can either choose a realistic design for the shore or to include design elements like seashells on it so that you can determine what it is.

Boat Sailing on a Cloudy Ocean with Dolphins Chest Tattoo

Image by @jenuinerose via Instagram

Your other option when it comes to such water tattoos is to include aquatic life in the tattoo as well. Then, you can include light ripples, splashes, or waves surrounding these creatures.

Whales Splashing Out of Water Arm Tattoo

Image by @ik_tatz via Instagram

Once again, the sea life helps to add context to the tattoo without you needing to add too much detail or even work on the tattoo looking hyper realistic. It is also a great tattoo to have if you love all aspects of being in the ocean!

Colored Octopus in a Splashing Sea Arm Tattoo

Image by @sirensrose via Instagram

The most common sea creatures included in such water tattoos are whales, dolphins, and jelly fish. Of course, you can choose whatever creature that you like or feel inspired by.

Waves and a Clam Shell Ankle Tattoo

Image by @sacred_island_tattoos via Instagram

Whales Leaping from the Water Upper Arm Tattoo

Image by @bjoern_holtappels via Instagram

Majestic Whale in the Ocean Arm Tattoo

Image by @tien_tattooist via Instagram

Diving Whales in the Ocean Thigh Tattoo

Image by @jtm_tattoo via Instagram

Portrait Ocean Arm Tattoo

Image by @_fifne via Instagram

Ship Passing Through the Ocean Upper Arm Tattoo

Image by @byvalerubio via Instagram

Japanese Water Tattoos

Now, when speaking about Japanese water tattoos, you can refer to one of two things. This could be a tattoo design of waves or water that is based off of traditional Japanese artwork.

Detailed Japanese Water Arm Tattoo

Image by @milesromerotattoos via Instagram

For this kind of tattoo, you have the option of choosing any wave or water tattoo design and you simply apply the styles and brushstrokes that are used in traditional Japanese art.

Or, you can base your tattoo of the work of Katsushika Hokusai. One of the better known works of this artist is Under the Wave Off Kanagawa, also known as the Great Wave.

The Great Wave off Kanagawa Arm Tattoo

Image by @javitravi.ink via Instagram

This design features large waves about to crash over fisherman clinging to their boats. In the background, you have Mount Fuji.

There is some debate as to what this piece of art means. Some say that it is meant to depict the might of the ocean and to instill reverence in the capabilities of the sea. There are others that believe that the art is meant to depict a tsunami.

Red Sun, Flying Crane, and Kanagawa Waves Arm Tattoo

Image by @tattooist_eq via Instagram

Japanese Strip Arm Tattoo

Image by @tattooist_eq via Instagram

In any case, it is a stunning painting. And, if you love it, this is a perfect tattoo for you. You can choose to get an exact replica of this artwork. Or, you can take some creative liabilities and add or take away certain elements.

Black Work Japanese Water Fullsleeve Arm Tattoo

Image by @pencilslayer via Instagram

Black And Grey Japanese Water Fullsleeve Arm Tattoo

Image by @deancarlyle via Instagram

The Great Wave, Red Moon, and Stars Arm Tattoo

Image by @maiatattoos via Instagram

Water Dragon Head Japanese Tattoo

Image by @henry_kruger via Instagram

Black Work Japanese Water Dragon Fullsleeve Leg Tattoo

Image by @ian_hilz via Instagram

Japanese Water Back Piece Tattoo

Image by @tattoopink_page via Instagram

Traditional Japanese Water With Flowers Arm Sleeve Tattoo

Image by @pooch_art via Instagram

Japan Wind Wave Circle Arm Tattoo

Image by @jaezzy_tattooer via Instagram

Circle Wave Arm Tattoo

Image by @stateofmindink via Instagram

Well, there you go - the top water tattoo ideas for you to choose from! With so many options, you should be spoilt for choice. So, all that you need to do now is to figure out which concept and aesthetic is right for you!

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