Like full- and half-sleeve tattoos, quarter-sleeve tattoos consist of a tattoo that wraps completely around a person's arm and covers a portion equal to a quarter of the entire arm. Typically, quarter-sleeve tattoos are done on the very upper part of the arm, from the shoulder to the bicep, which makes it easy to cover with a short-sleeved shirt. Some tattoo enthusiasts, however, will place a quarter-sleeve in a different area of the arm.
Decide on placement for your quarter-sleeve tattoo. If you go with the typical upper arm placement, you will have what's considered a true quarter-sleeve. If you have existing work in the area that will form your quarter-sleeve, add smaller pieces to fill space or add a background.
Think about the theme you'd like to use for your quarter-sleeve tattoo. If you're starting from scratch, then you may simply start with a large animal that you like or that has meaning to you, such as a dragon, tiger, bear or panther. If you like oriental tattoos, then you might enjoy a large koi fish or lotus flower. A background can then be added to the piece to complete the picture. Good backgrounds can include flames or smoke, water, wind bars or swirls.
Piece together smaller individual tattoos if you'd prefer to do the piece a little at a time or if there are several different designs you'd like used in the overall piece. When piecing tattoos together, you should still stick with a central theme, so the sleeve doesn't have a completely random look to it.
Talk to a tattoo artist and have the entire tattoo drawn out on paper. If you have some artistic flair of your own, you may want to draw the piece yourself and take it to a tattoo artist to clean up and get her opinion on how the design will look. If you have preexisting tattoos that may need to be covered, keep these in mind when designing the quarter-sleeve.
Be prepared for the time commitment involved. A quarter-sleeve tattoo, especially one you want to do from start to finish in one sitting, may take several hours depending on the design. People find their threshold for pain tolerance sometimes lessens the longer they sit in the tattooist's chair. If you need more than one session to complete your quarter-sleeve, be patient and make sure the previous work is completely healed before beginning again.
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