Chances are you’ve heard of full and half sleeves, but have you considered a quarter sleeve? It’s a great way to acquire an around the arm tattoo while still being discreet about it.
When it comes to sleeves there are three types every man should know:
The first being full, which means from shoulder to wrist. The second, half, which extends from the shoulder down to the elbow or slightly above it. And lastly, is what I’d like to talk about with you today, the quarter sleeve.
These tattoos start at the shoulder and stop at the mid bicep, or they can begin at the wrist and end at the middle of the forearm.
Aside from the smaller size what makes them truly unique is their discreet nature. You still get the enjoy the perks of ink that wraps its way all the way around your arm with a full background, alongside the perks of easily being able to cover them up with clothing.
Of course, as time progresses you can always add more ink to your arm. It’s a great way to avoid the grueling hours upon hours spent sitting in the chair while getting a full or even half sleeve done. Not to mention, you can stretch out your budget further too and slowly finance the tattoo of your dreams over a longer period of time.
To see what I mean just take a moment to explore these top 70 best quarter sleeve tattoo designs for men below. You’ll find everything from realistic styles to watercolor ink ideas and more.
Just keep in mind that I’ve also included a handful of styles that push the boundaries of a true quarter sleeve for the sake of inspiration. Perhaps you’ll find a piece and size that suits you considerably well.
This is an incredible design that uses vibrant colors as well as a photorealistic depiction of an eye to produce a breathtaking tattoo. Immediately noticeable in this piece are the vivid color used to create a watercolor-like backdrop, blending different tones in a broad palette to great effect. Next, is the expertly applied eye that uses fine line work to create the small details, and a remarkable gradation of tones to create the highlights that give it such a realistic quality. This piece is a great example of what vivid colors can do for a tattoo in the hands of a master artist.
Traditional Maori and Polynesian tattoos are a gold-mine for quarter sleeve designs, and this is an excellent example of the style. This tattoo is impressive for the level of detail in the design: the fine line work within the larger pattern is incredibly consistent, creating the effect of patterns carved into wood. It is also notable how the well-planned, larger pattern is created using negative space, adding a layer of depth and a sense of movement that creates a more dynamic tattoo and draws the eye around the entire piece. All of these components work together to demonstrate the meticulous strategy and expert application that went into completing this eye-catching tattoo.
Here is a design that uses black and gray ink and an excellent, but limited, use of color to create a stunning dragon tattoo. The artist uses expert shading to capture the surface of the skin, creating a realistic texture that looks as if you could reach out and touch the rough scales on the dragon’s face. The shading in the fur at the snout is also well-applied and adds a layer of texture that increases the contrast and creates a more intricate tattoo. Finally, the use of reds and oranges to create the fire in the mouth and eyes of the dragon is impressive: the different shades and use of white highlights in the teeth create the impression of actual light glowing from this remarkable tattoo.
This piece eschews bright colors in favor of expert black and gray shading to create a dynamic tattoo. At the center of this quarter sleeve is a skull, expertly rendered through the use of consistent and smooth shading that spares no detail in the texture of the bone: notice the small pockmarks above the eyes and teeth as well as the crack between the eyes. The gradation of tones used to produce the level of realism in the roses is also excellent, perfectly creating the variation from saturated black all the way to the negative space highlights that allows the details in this piece to pop. Running from the top of the tattoo down through the eye of the skull is a negative space ribbon that is an interesting stylistic choice that helps draw the eye around the tattoo.
This tattoo takes a common element in Japanese tattooing (clouds) and uses them to create the entire quarter sleeve. This piece is interesting in the way it strictly utilizes the clouds with very few accompanying features, and while this is uncommon it works quite well in this piece thanks to expert application and balanced composition. The line work that forms the outlines of the clouds is bold and consistent, creating the bones of this unique tattoo, while stipple shading is used to give the clouds depth and texture. The variation in the densities of the stipple work, from almost full saturation at the center of clouds to complete negative space at their edges, is expert and allows what could have been a boring design to stand out.
This is a gorgeous design and a great example of a quarter-sleeve that takes elements from Japanese tattooing and creates a stunning tattoo. The expert line work that is used in this piece is bold and consistent, creating an outline that lets the artist incorporate vibrant color without the worry of losing definition. The negative space used in the crashing waves and flowing water help to create a more dynamic tattoo that is sure to turn heads.
Quarter Sleeve Tattoo FAQ’s
How long does a quarter sleeve tattoo take?
How long a tattoo will take depends on a number of factors, most importantly the artist’s skill, speed, experience and the wearer’s threshold for pain. However, for a quarter sleeve, five to eight hours is a safe bet for a minimum time frame. Again this depends on how long someone can sit in the chair: if you tap out after four hours you may have to wait weeks before the artist is available to complete the design.