39 Brilliant Cover-up Tattoos with Before and After

Creativity and techniques turn faded old ink into new art. These clever and stunning cover-up tattoos take the old ones to the next level.

In the perfect world, tattoos are meant to last forever. You pick a design that represents your personality, and you wear it on the sleeve happily ever after.

But in real life, some tattoos don’t hold up as time goes by. It’s common for small tattoos to blur in a decade or even in a few years. And colors fade, especially on the area more exposed to the sun, such as the hand.

And for some, their tattoos fail to represent them any longer. For example, you may have a name tattoo from a relationship that ends. Or your aesthetics change, and it doesn’t make sense to wear the ink you don’t like anymore. 

So what to do when you no longer like your old tattoo? You either remove it, retouch or cover it up.

Should I remove or cover up my old tattoo?

So in this list are some of the best cover-up tattoos from talented artists. Scroll on for cover-up tattoo ideas and things you should know before doing a cover-up.

Do cover-up tattoos need to be big?

The size depends on what you want as a new tattoo. But a cover-up tattoo will always be bigger than the old one. If it’s smaller, it won’t fully cover the lines and color underneath it.

Are cover-up tattoos more painful?

Depending on the condition of your old tattoo, a cover-up tattoo might be more painful than the first one if there are scars on the skin.

And also, because cover-up tattoos are bigger, they can take longer to complete. Thus for some people, the experience is more painful.

Do I need a cover-up tattoo or removal?

If there’s nothing you like about your tattoo, and you haven’t figured out what you want for a new one, you can remove it with laser.

It’s also worth pointing out that bright colors are more difficult to remove completely. And it may take multiple treatments to remove a tattoo.

But if you are just not satisfied with the colors or shading, you can do a retouch. Or you can go further by replacing it with a new design. And that’s when you need a cover-up. 

When choosing cover-up ideas, always ask yourself what do you want. Then, look at it as a new tattoo and make a list of designs you love. Don’t choose something you don’t like because it covers the old tattoo perfectly. Or you may regret it in a few years and need a cover-up again.

And always talk to experienced tattoo artists. Qualified tattooists will help you figure out how to create something you like and hide the old tattoo. 

Disclaimer: This tattoo collection is for inspiration only. Please do not copy the artwork. If you love these tattoos, follow artists and show them some support.

Brilliant cover-up tattoos with before and after

Cartoon into butterfly cover-up tattoo


Wings and heart tattoo cover-up


The old tattoo is made up of two wings and a heart shape in the middle. It might be once a popular design, but the faded colors make it almost unrecognizable.

The tattoo artist used the original blue color of the wings as the background and created a stunning hummingbird on top. 

The vivid colors and details really make the design pop out. It is proof that cover-up tattoos can be beautiful and totally different from the original one.

Beautiful landscape cover-up tattoo


Dreamy moon cover up tattoo


Stunning night view cover up tattoo


Beautiful cover up tattoo on the waist with flowers


Butterfly tattoo cover-up


Butterflies and flowers often show up together in tattoos for women. This shoulder tattoo one is a bit different. Initially, it was a single butterfly tattoo. Then, as the patterns fade, it is redesigned into a flower and a butterfly.

The vibrant colors cover most of the old tattoo. But if you look closer, you can find the old butterfly in the center of the new one, which resembles rebirth. And that’s what makes this cover-up tattoo meaningful.

Leaves cover up tattoo on the shoulder


Universe and butterfly cover-up tattoo on the leg


Ouroboros to wreath


Ouroboros is a snake eating its tail. It originated in Ancient Egypt and was introduced to the West. Symbolizing infinity and unity, the Ouroboros has been a popular tattoo pattern.

But because of the details that go into the snake’s scalps, it’s not the best tattoo to stand the test of time. This cover-up tattoo uses the original shape of the Ouroboros and turns it into a wreath.

As we grow, the symbols that used to be meaningful may not represent us anymore. If that’s the case, it’s ok to have a completely different tattoo out of the old one.

Quote to art


Many quote tattoos are done with fine lines, which means they may fade in the years to come. This tattoo artist recreates a stroke of paint above the old tattoo. The dark and dense color gives good coverage. And if you look closer, you will find the tree line under a starry night, which makes it a creative and artistic tattoo.

Purple rose cover up tattoo


Many cover-up tattoos use black or other dark colors to hide the lines of the old ones. And that makes the universe the perfect background for cover-ups.

Clever number tattoo cover-up


Cross tattoo cover up


Tiger cover up tattoo on the ankle


Most cover-up tattoos take up more space than the original ones. And they do for a reason. Like this clever design, the artist creates a much bigger portrait of a tiger. The extra space makes the design more cohesive and natural.

Behind the ear snake tattoo cover-up


Symbol tattoo cover-up


If there’s no before and after comparison, you may not be able to tell that it’s a cover-up. The artist manages to hide the lines of the symbol with the black area. With the colorful blocks and the clean lines, this is not just a successful cover-up tattoo but also an artistic and modern one.

Footprints into glasswares


Stunning cross and crown cover-up


Stars tattoo retouch


This small wrist tattoo is the perfect example of how minimal changes make all the difference. The red color and the curvy line bring life to the star tattoo and take it to the next level.

Feather cover-up tattoo behind the ear


Small wrist tattoo cover-up


Instead of completely covering up the original tattoo, the artist uses it as part of the new design. The fading colors of the moon make it perfect as a background. The colors of the flower and the moon create a beautiful contrast.

Girly wrist snowflakes tattoo cover-up


Birds are one of the favorite objects for tattooist Eunyu. She has also created a series of beautiful and sophisticated tattoos. Check out our interview with her and learn more about her work.

Poetic cover up shoulder tattoo


Another brilliant example of creating a new tattoo based on the old one. The color of the original tattoo is still vivid, with lines blurring a little. 

Thus instead of changing the tattoo completely, the artist used it as a background and stayed with the flying theme. As a result, the new tattoo is not just a clever cover-up. It is also a piece of art that tells a story.

Black cat nape cover up tattoo


Plant tattoo covering up a quote


Quote tattoos are not difficult to cover up. Most of them are black and grey and don’t take up much space. That’s why they can be covered by designs with lots of lines and details like this one. 

The leaves stretch across the shoulder and the collar bone. The result is stunning, and no one could tell that it’s a cover-up.

Butterfly into feather sleeve cover up tattoo


Pear into grapes arm cover up tattoo


Cover-up tattoos can be similar to the old ones but not exactly the same. Chances are you may still love part of the old tattoo, be it the style, the color, or the design. This grape tattoo creates a different piece on top of the old one.

By adding shades and details, the original frame of the stamp becomes a floral window. The artist also used darker colors for the best results. Thus the pear flawlessly turns into grapes.

Intricate butterfly floral tattoo


Meaningful tiger tattoo cover-up


When you have a tattoo you want to cover, it’s common to choose coverage over meaning. This simple tiger tattoo takes both aspects into consideration. The transformation from a baby tiger to a tiger also reflects the growth of the tattoo owner.

Beautiful swirl tattoo retouch


Lettering tattoo cover up with rose


Rose tattoos are popular for a reason. First, you can tattoo it black and grey or fill it with colors. And you can easily scale it up by adding details and shading.

This stunning blue rose covers the original lettering tattoo perfectly. And it glows on the skin, making it just as gorgeous as a new one.

Grapes cover up tattoo on the shoulder


Letter tattoos into landscapes


If you haven’t found the perfect cover-up tattoo ideas, consider landscape tattoos. They usually consist of mountains and trees, which means there will be a lot of blacks. These two inner-arm realism tattoos are perfect examples.

Floral snake cover-up tattoo one the thigh


Feminine lion sleeve cover up tattoo


This intricate flowers and lion tattoo does a great job of combining two tattoos – the cat and the sun. The new design details also make it hard to take your eyes off it. 

Cat tattoo cover-up


Read also: 63 Unique and cute cat tattoos for cat lovers

Beautiful colored feather tattoo


One-word tattoos are not the most difficult tattoos to cover up. And they give artists plenty of room to explore. This feather tattoo makes a successful cover-up for a reason. Not only does it hide the old tattoo, but it also compliments the curves of the body.

Above the hip cover up tattoo


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