20 Outline Tattoos That'll Inspire Your Next Ink

From the simple to the detailed.

Originally Published: 
20 outline tattoo designs that'll inspire your next ink.
Getty Images/Francesco Carta fotografo

This year has seen its fair share of tattoo trends. From the micro pieces of ink that popped up everywhere to the onslaught of neck tattoos (here's looking at you, Justin and Demi) and matching pieces shared among BFFs, there were plenty of options to take inspiration from. But another style has also gained popularity: outline tattoos.

These designs are, well, exactly what they sound like. Outline pieces are created by drawing just the outer edges of whatever design you'd like without any ink filling it in. Common art ideas include body shapes, animals, and even florals (the options are endless, though). They're typically done with black ink and really thin, precise lines. Or they can be inked in a style called single line tattooing, which involves an artist creating an image using only one continuous line (or as few lines as possible).The end result is an elegant, simple creation that can represent whatever symbol you like.

If you've been thinking about finishing 2020 with a new bit of ink or perhaps getting your first piece in the new year, these 20 outline tattoos will help to spark your vision for the next time you visit the studio.



Outline portrait tattoos are one popular option in the category. These artistic renderings of family members or friends are just as beautiful as a more traditional portrait style, and turns your favorite photo into wearable art.


Famous Artist Designs

Celebrities often wind up as trendsetters when it comes to their tattoos. Miley Cryus' Matisse-inspired outline tattoo may not have kicked off this trend, but it certainly did contribute to it.


Colorful Outlines

Tattoo artist Patrycja Höller's feed is filled with outline tattoos using bright colors instead of the classic black ink you're accustomed to seeing, and it'll have you dreaming of bold tones.



For those looking to pay tribute to pets, outline tattoos are a great option. You can choose from a full shape of your furry friend or even a subtle paw print.



Thanks to their highly symbolic nature, flowers can take on whatever meaning you assign them — plus, there are so many to choose from for the perfect delicate tattoo shape.



Those with wanderlust will definitely be into outline designs that feature travel-inspired landscapes. Getting some ink of a mountain range is one way to channel jet-setting.



Food lovers can opt for an outline of their favorite snack. Whether you opt for a bottle of hot sauce or a piece of fruit, these designs make for an ultra-simple yet fun bit of ink.



From birthdays to anniversaries, dates are common themes for tattoos. You can choose to get it in micro ink — like Miley Cyrus' '92 neck tattoo — or go with larger-sized outline numbers like this design.



Constellations and astronomy-based tattoos are one of 2021's biggest tattoo trends, and you can illustrate the celestial-shaped theme perfectly with the outline style.


Pop Culture

Yes, this Harry Potter-inspired tattoo is detailed, but the sheer, almost pencil-etched outline serves up major ink inspo — and proves that no design is too ambitious.



The idea of hand tattoos may sound odd, but once you see elegant pieces like this or the pinky promise design trend found among matching tattoos, you'll be thinking about one for yourself.



Another option? Look to the sky for your next piece of art. For those who love a bit of whimsy, this swirling cloud outline is sweet and simple.



Another popular symbol in the tattoo world is waves. They're easy to find within the micro ink trend, but they also work well as an outline.



For readers, a book tattoo makes perfect sense. You could go with a large, colorful piece, or you can take the simple route with an outlined micro-tat like this one.



Whether paying homage to your home state or to one that holds special memories, getting an outline of one of these recognizable shapes makes for a cute ink idea.



You could go the Kylie Jenner route and opt for a heart tattoo. The Kylie Cosmetics owner has had tiny red piece of artwork for years now, and it proves that a small outline can add some style.



This delicate finger tattoo proves that you don't have to get florals for something romantic. With vines, you can get creative with placement.



In the same vein as getting a pet tattoo, you can also opt for outlined ink of your favorite wild animal — choose anything from a bold tiger to a cute sheep like this one.



Like the mountain and state outline tattoos, cityscapes can also serve as an artful homage to a particular city you love.



When it comes to body shapes, you can honor your own or pick a certain part to get inked. Either way, these single-line designs are incredibly popular and beautiful options.

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