When it’s not done properly, this kind of grey scale accentuation of solid black (monochromatic) text can be nothing more than a distraction, and ultimately ends up taking away from the tattoo. In contrast, when it’s done by a skilled tattoo artist who knows when to hold back, the right amount of grey scale shadowing can add a real sense of motion and depth to the design.


Chances are that you’ve seen the bird tattoos on the shoulder in this particular piece many times before. This particular design has its origins in the British navy going back centuries. The bird represented is a barn swallow. One swallow tattoo meant that the sailor had sailed more than 5,000 nautical miles.


Are you trying to come up with different tattoo ideas?
Three forceful nouns in a row really makes a strong statement as is evidenced by this tattoo:

Strength. Respect. Loyalty.

As for the visual, the three different words are effectively separated by diamond shapes that almost look like light glints.


Not all fonts are created equal, and any tattoo artist that specializes in family tattoos for men should be able to show a potential clients the same word or phrase done in a variety of different fonts, both cursive and otherwise. There are sites like and other online font repositories that have literally hundreds of different options. You don’t have to pay for these sites either; simply type out what you need in each different font and take a screenshot of it.


If you think you’re the first one to come up with this particular family tree concept for a back piece, you now have photographic evidence of it having been done at least once before. However, that shouldn’t mean that someone else can’t put there own unique spin on this family tattoo idea.


This piece is an exercise in rendering textures in greyscale. The key is making sure that the marks are made in such a way that it is possible to unmistakably make out the differences between the shoe leather, the skin on the hands, the finger nails, and the shoelaces.


Not all family tattoos have to make use of text. The subject and composition of this piece definitely make a statement without using any words at all. So far we have been focusing on examples of the family tattoo for men that were text based, so here is the first of a series of family themed tattoos that expresses this concept just with images.


The muted sea green hues definitely adds a mood to this tattoo. There’s actually a lot of different shades and contrasts—in order to get the beams of light through the trees to look right (without sacrificing any of the rest of the detail in this tattoo) it would have been necessary to first plot out exactly where the darkest and lightest shades are to be placed. This requires a lot of care, skill, and foresight.


The almost graffiti style clouds are a nice touch, as are the deep intertwined roots which suggest “family” without overstating it.


This is a great example of what is known it tattooing as ‘grey wash’.
Grey wash is a very specific technique that has been developed over years that involves mixing blacks, greys, whites, and sepias. It is the only way tattoo artists are able to achieve the black and white photograph texture and realism. It takes years to perfect, and doing it on paper is not exactly the same as doing it on skin. If this is the kind of tattoo you are after make sure to choose an artist who has tonnes of experience with “grey wash”.

More family tattoos for guys on the next page…