How to Design a Full Back Tattoo

by Contributor

How to Design a Full Back Tattoo. Mention to a tattoo artist that you want a full back tattoo and you can watch them start to salivate. This is because a piece of this size not only nets them a tidy sum, but also because they rarely get the opportunity to work on such a large piece of living canvas. The back is considered prime real estate in the tattoo world and careful consideration should be made before getting a tattoo of this magnitude.

Step 1

Talk to your tattoo artist. If you don't already have an artist you frequent on a regular basis, then you better find one you can trust with a project this large. You're going to be spending a lot of time with the tattoo artist before the project is complete, so you not only want them to be competent and fairly priced, but you'll also want them to have a good working attitude to make the time more pleasant. You'll start by simply discussing any ideas you already have for full back piece and getting the artist's input. This step alone could take hours and doesn't stop with the first discussion but continues throughout the design process.

Step 2

Research your concept. This is going to be a very large piece and odds are you don't have the whole design mapped out or you may be missing small details for the overall piece. Look online, in books, magazines, art museums or anywhere you might find the pieces you need. Depending on the core design you're working with, you'd be surprised where you can find ideas, especially for the small details.

Step 3

Do a preliminary drawing. Whether you're drawing up the design yourself or your tattoo artist is drawing it, you'll want a first draft to see how well the main concept will fit in the space allowed and how much background and other pieces you need to add to fill the canvas. By doing a tracing of your back, you will know exactly how much space you have to work with and can draw the piece directly into the same sized area.

Step 4

Search for other pieces that will fit in the space allowed and flow with the main concept of your design. This is also a good time to decide if the piece needs any kind of background to tie it together. Discuss all of this with your tattoo artist and trust his judgment, after all this is what he does for a living.

Step 5

Add details, fillers or backgrounds to the piece. Again, you'll be working closely with your tattoo artist to ensure the design is exactly how you want it to be. Some tattoo artists prefer to do all the drawing on their own and will call the client as they have a new draft ready. The client will then come to the studio to look at the design and either approve it as is or ask that certain aspects be altered and the artist will go from there.

Step 6

Approve the final draft. After an undeterminable amount of drafts, eventually the design will be perfect for both you and your artist. This will be the draft used to make your tattoo stencil.

Step 7

Discuss color options. Some people prefer black and grey only, while others want to go with the boldest colors they can. When deciding on color, always consider what will look best for the design that's being created.

Step 8

Make your first appointment. This will be the first of probably many sessions needed to complete a full back design. The length of each session will most likely be predetermined by you and the artist based on how long you can stand it under the needle at one time, how long the artist can work consecutively, how well your skin takes ink and cost per session.


  • A full back piece can be a wonderful way to get a very large tattoo that you can easily keep covered anytime you need to and then show off when you want. Designs for a full back piece are only limited by the imaginations of you and your tattoo artist. With this much space to work with, you can do just about anything.


  • Always choose a clean, sterile tattoo studio that is clean and a tattoo artist that always practices safe and sterile procedures. Your decision on who's going to ink your full back tattoo should never be solely based on price. Such a massive project is going to be pricey. A really talented tattoo artist will be even cost even more. When choosing an artist base the decision on their past experience, talent and ability to do the type of work you want, enthusiasm for the project, and lastly, their price tag. Never walk into a new tattoo studio, ask for a full back tattoo right then, let someone just start drawing on you or let them freehand the whole tattoo. This is sure way to a major regret and a costly lesson in patience. Plus, getting a full back tattoo covered up is extremely difficult.