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Dotwork Tattoos: A Complete Guide With 85 Images

Dotwork tattoos have gained popularity in recent years and have since become a much sought after style. While artists play with this technique, it is often combined with other tattoo styles to create an intriguing piece. Dotwork can be used to assemble a complete image, or it can be used for shading a tattoo design.

Where did this style of tattoo come from and what are the common designs? We will find out.

Dotwork Tattoos
Dotwork Tattoos

What is a Dotwork tattoo?

Dotwork is a technique that requires the artist to tattoo several dots to create an image or visual effects. The technique is often used to create whole images, even portraits, or for shading. When used in shading, the artist often uses black, gray, dark blue or even red ink.

A tattoo artist can create dotwork tattoos using a regular spool machine or a hand stitching technique. The technique of hand stitching is also known as a “stick and poke” tattoo.

Many people prefer hand tattoos because they feel more organic or personal. This also allows the artist to be more precise because it is not a vibrating machine.

Dotwork tattoos create a unique look for almost any image.

History of Dotwork Tattoos

The tattoos can be dated to the Iceman, a frozen mummy that is 5,200 years old. In addition, the female mummies of ancient Egypt also presented various tattoos.

What all ancient tattoos have in common is the dotwork design. The Iceman had various dots and patterns with dots on different parts of his body. Researchers suggest that tattoos were often used as a therapeutic technique to relieve pain.

In ancient Egypt, tattoos were almost exclusively reserved for women. Some believe it was a way for them to mark prostitutes or protect women from sexually transmitted diseases.

However, other research has found dotted illustrations around the abdomen, thighs and breasts, which indicates that polka dot tattoos were used to relieve pain during pregnancy and childbirth.

This is not to say that people get a tattoo today to relieve pain, and you should definitely not get a tattoo during pregnancy. This is mainly due to the risk of getting an infection, such as HIV or hepatitis B.

Saying this, dotwork tattoos are among the nicest tattoos to have done, according to the public. Indeed, the execution is soft and less direct than traditional tattoos. In some ways, this technique can help relieve certain aches and pains.

Pointillism and Dotwork Tattoos

Dotwork tattoos are inspired by the popular painting technique, pointillism. This method, similar to dotwork, uses several small dots to create a dynamic image.

The technique or style of painting was first made popular in 1886 as a branch of Impressionism. The first two artists to use pointillism are Paul Signac and Georges Seurat. Later, Camille Pissarro and Vincent Van Gogh, among others, also used this interesting technique.

Modern tattoo artists will use the same technique to create several small dots that seem solid from a distance, but as you get closer, you will notice the incredible pattern of dots.

Common Dotwork Tattoo Designs

The dotwork technique is commonly used in geometric, mandala, spiritual or religious tattoos. However, the technique can be used in any style of tattoo.

Mandala tattoos consist of a pattern of circles. The dotwork method is generally used to create a soft center and shading in the mandala.

Geometric tattoos are based on different shapes that create a simple but intriguing design. Point work is commonly used to create depth and shading in shapes. Some geometric tattoos are made entirely using tiny dots, which you can see if you look closely.

Many artists use dotwork for shading, also called dotted lines, which helps bring any artwork to life. Dotwork is also often used in blackwork tattoos and more recently has become popular in negative space tattoos.

Negative space tattoos have nothing to do with space or NASA. This type of tattoo plays with inverted images where your complexion is used to create the lighter shades of the design.

The dotwork technique works particularly well with negative space tattoos because it allows the artist to create depth to the image using shading.

Handmade vs Machine Made Dotwork Tattoos

Handmade tattoos, also known as stick and poke, have grown in popularity over the years. Celebrities such as Miley’s sister, Noah Cyrus, have a number of stick and poke tattoos, as well as Kesha and Debby Ryan.

The technique of hand stitching has had a bad reputation, with people viewing it as prison tattoos. However, when a professional tattoo artist is behind the needle, the technique can create incredibly detailed designs. The method allows the artist to be more precise with his work and to create every little detail imaginable.

In saying this, most artists prefer to use reel machines rather than stitching by hand, as these may not last forever. Machines are a safer, faster and more consistent option. It will also be less painful because you can get the tattoo done faster.

Skills and techniques required

Doing a dotwork tattoo does not require any specific skill as most artists already use this technique for shading. However, if you are looking for a more detailed tattoo or dotwork portrait, you should find an artist specializing in this area.

If you want a handmade dotwork tattoo, it is essential to find a licensed professional artist who specializes in this area.

Some artists use special machines that reproduce handmade tattoos. These are generally safer options, since machines tend to be cleaner than handmade tattoos.

Tips for choosing an appropriate design

Deciding to get a tattoo is an important decision, because it will stay with you forever, unless you remove it using painful laser surgery. Here are some tips to help you find a design for you:

  • Find a suitable artist: For dotwork tattoos, it’s a good idea to find an artist who has good experience with this style. You can even ask to see their portfolio of works for inspiration or something you like.
  • Cut: Do you want a simple image or design? Knowing the size of a tattoo you would like will help you find a suitable design. If this is your first tattoo, start small, you can always add to the design later.
  • Zoned: Do you want the tattoo to be hidden? Choose the ribs, neck or behind the ear. If you want your dotwork tattoo to be displayed, choose an arm, finger, back or chest.


Do Dotwork tattoos hurt?

Soft shade and light spots are actually considered to be one of the least painful tattoo techniques.

In saying this, many things play a role when it comes to the pain of a tattoo. Your tolerance for pain will be the deciding factor on where you will place dotwork tattoos on a pain scale.

The area of ​​the body also plays an important role because the ribs, the shoulder and the inside of the arm tend to be more painful.

What most people mention when describing a dotwork tattoo is that the pain is very localized. This means that you feel it where the point is made, whereas with regular tattoos, the pain will generally radiate throughout the area.

Another factor is time. The dotwork technique requires a longer time than regular tattoos. This is because the artist must make several small dots and not complete lines or blocks of color.

It also means that if you find it uncomfortable, you may find it painful after a while.

How is Dotwork tattoo tracking?

The good thing about dotwork tattoos is that they don’t require any specific follow-up. Just follow the advice of your artists and keep it hydrated. After all, the ink of any tattoo remains under the skin.

Do Dotwork Tattoos Cost More?

Since the length of the appointment plays an important role in the price, you can expect dotwork tattoos to be more expensive. Dotwork generally takes longer than regular tattoos.

Do Dotwork tattoos age well?

Just because tattoos are an ongoing affair, it doesn’t necessarily mean that each tattoo ages well. This is an important consideration that many do not think about when choosing their design.

In general, the types of tattoos that age best are those covered with black – this will help prevent the color or tattoo from spreading.

Polka dot tattoos made with smaller needles or more faded patterns are unlikely to age well. However, if you opt for a combination of thicker dots and lines, your tattoo should last longer. On the negative side, opting for thicker and bolder lines could interfere with your chosen design, especially if it is a delicate minimalist piece.

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