Dragons are one of the most popular tattoos for men. Fierce, strong, and mysterious, these creatures are found in the myths and legends of cultures all over the world. From China to Wales, dragons are admired for their strength, wisdom, and power. As a tattoo choice, dragons are versatile. The curved shape means your artist can ink the design anywhere from your torso to your back, leg, or bicep. A dragon tattoo also looks great small or large. So whether you want an eye-catching firebreathing dragon or a more subtle inking, read on to find the perfect design for you.
1. Classic Dragon Tattoo
The classic dragon tattoo has everything: scales, claws, wings, and fire! This dramatic inking looks great when done in color or black ink. So if you’re looking for a statement piece, why not try it out? Make sure your artist adds lots of life and movement when creating the design. That’s because best dragon tattoos look like they could come to life at any moment. You can have this inking placed anywhere on your body, but popular choices for men are the bicep, back, and chest. While this type of tattoo can be intimidating, you can easily cover these places with a shirt. However, you can admire your art at home whenever you look in the mirror.
2. Japanese Dragon Tattoo
In Japan, dragons are considered to be kind and protective. They help to watch over humanity. Traditionally, there are six dragons in Japanese culture: Sui, Han, Ri, Ka, Fuku, and Hai. Each one has different qualities and powers. The color of the dragon is also essential in Japanese tattooing; for example, black dragons represent wisdom, while green dragons are associated with nature. For an authentic Japanese dragon tattoo, try the irezumi style, which is very colorful and ornate. Otherwise, a more minimal Japanese dragon could fit better with your style.
3. Chinese Dragon Tattoo
In Chinese culture, the dragon is a lucky symbol. Unlike in Western traditions, they’re associated with water – storms, seas, the river, and lakes. They are also a symbol of nobility and associated with emperors. The Chinese dragon art style is fluid, like water. The dragon itself will have a long, thin body similar to that of a snake, and fish-like scales. While these dragons don’t have wings, they do have crests and curls that look like waves or steam. For these reasons, the Chinese dragon looks excellent when inked to wrap around a curved part of your body, like your forearm. It’s a cool and detailed tattoo choice that you’ll never get tired of seeing.
4. Dragon Ball Tattoo
All the ’90s kids out there will remember the Dragon Ball Z cartoon. The anime series was a favorite for its action scenes and cool mythology, as well as iconic characters like Goku, Vegeta, Gohan, and Trunks. In the show, collecting all seven of the mysterious crystal dragon balls will bring an Eternal Dragon to you and grant your wish. If you were a fan of the show or the original manga series, you could show it with a dragon ball tattoo. It’s a subtle tattoo option that only other fans will understand. The vibrant orange and red color of the dragon ball also looks great if you have fair skin.
5. Dragon Sleeve Tattoo
The full sleeve tattoo runs from your shoulder to your wrist. It can even extend onto your chest. One of the most eye-catching types of tattoos, the sleeve is all about showing off bold and detailed ink. Because a sleeve tattoo generally takes several long sessions, taking weeks or months to complete, it’s a choice for hardcore tattoo lovers. Dragon tattoos are a perfect choice for a sleeve because you have so much space. The organic shapes in Japanese and Chinese-inspired dragon designs will follow the curve of your muscles. Otherwise, a fiery dragon or collection of smaller dragon tattoos could make up your sleeve.
6. Dragon Back Tattoo
The back is one of the most popular placements for a dragon tattoo. That’s because it’s one of the largest and smoothest areas on your body. When you have a large, detailed piece of body art in mind – like a dragon breathing fire – your back is the perfect place to show it off. People with back tattoos tend to be confident and self-assured. They know their ink speaks for itself – they don’t need to see it every day. The best part about this dragon tattoo is that you can keep your ink hidden just by wearing a shirt. However, when you take it off, you’ll leave people speechless!
7. Tribal Dragon Tattoo
The tribal tattoo art style has been a favorite with men everywhere for decades. That’s because it has a bold and graphic, yet simple look. Tribal tattoos only use black ink and no shading, so they generally don’t take too much time to create. Their ‘stenciled’ finish is iconic and eye-catching. Western-style dragons look great when rendered in this style as the signature curved shapes and points mimic flames and claws. If you want a fierce dragon tattoo, the tribal type is an excellent choice for you.
8. Small Dragon Tattoo
A small dragon tattoo is an excellent choice if you want to place your inking where there’s limited space, like your wrist or neck. It’s also perfect if you want more than one dragon tattoo. Two or three small dragons can be combined in one design for a cool and interesting final result. If you’re getting your first tattoo, a smaller inking is the right choice so you can test your pain tolerance. Small tattoos are also easier to conceal if you can’t show inkings at work, or if you have an understated style.
9. Dragon Koi Tattoo
Fans of Japanese tattoos could choose the dragon koi design. It represents an ancient legend where the koi fish swims up a mythical waterfall and transforms into a mighty dragon at the top. The meaning of the story is that overcoming life’s challenges will pay off in the end. You will come out stronger if you don’t give up. That’s why koi symbolize perseverance and strength of will in Japanese culture and art. If the message of the koi dragon legend resonates with you, getting it as a tattoo is a great choice. Every time you see your inking, you’ll feel stronger – especially if you are going through tough times.
10. Celtic Dragon Tattoo
In Celtic culture, dragons are wise, protective and spiritual creatures. They are considered gatekeepers for the mystical realms and have great power. The Celtic country of Wales has a dragon on its flag, and the legendary King Arthur is said to have had a dragon on his battle standard. In Celtic art, the dragon is often drawn eating its tail which is symbolic of immortality and the natural cycle. So if you have Celtic heritage, there are lots of options to choose from when it comes to your dragon tattoo.
11. Bearded Dragon Tattoo
Because of their scaly skin and dragon-like appearance, lizards are often said to have mystical qualities. They are often associated with dreams, connecting us to our subconscious and acting as spirit guides. Because they can see in the dark, lizards are commonly known as a protective symbol against the ‘unseen’ obstacles in life. The bearded dragon is a native Australian lizard. It gets its name from the flap of skin that puffs up when it’s under attack. For this reason, they are a symbol of self-protection and preservation.
12. Yin Yang Dragon Tattoo
The yin yang dragon tattoo brings together two spiritual symbols, representing balanced energy. The design takes its inspiration from Chinese culture, in which yin and yang are the two opposing energy forces. Yin is passive, feminine, and associated with cold, while yang is active, masculine, and associated with heat. When they come together in perfect unity, they represent a whole, balanced universe. Dragons also represent the forces of nature in Chinese culture, so when they are shown with the yin yang symbol, it means that life itself is in harmony.
13. Blue Dragon Tattoo
Another dragon tattoo inspired by Asian cultures is the blue dragon inking. Also called the azure dragon, the creature can be found in the mythology of both China and Japan. As a result, it’s often drawn the traditional way when tattooed. It is the guardian of the stars and the East. While you may feel a connection to the legends of the blue dragon, this tattoo doesn’t necessarily have to have a spiritual meaning. Blue is an excellent choice for a tattoo design because it contrasts well with black, white, and red ink.
14. Dragon Scale Tattoo
An unusual take on the dragon body art trend is the scale tattoo. Your tattooer will use techniques similar to special-effects make-up artists to create the illusion that you have a layer of scales beneath your real skin. Artistic tears and cracks can also be added for extra impact. When you choose this tattoo style, you are hinting at the beast within. A scale inking tells others that you identify strongly with the characteristics of a dragon – fierce and powerful.
15. Dragon Tiger Tattoo
Similar to the yin yang symbol, the dragon and tiger represent two opposing energy forces. Showing them together is traditional in Buddhist culture. While the tiger is active, the dragon is passive – but they are equal and keep each other in balance. Because a tiger tattoo design originates in Asia, try incorporating elements of Asian art styles into your inking. You could also have your artist shape the two creatures, so they form a circle, similar to the yin yang.
16. Flaming Dragon Tattoo
If you want a tattoo that will get you a lot of attention, a fire-breathing dragon is it. In European cultures, dragons are heavily associated with fire and destruction. A tattoo of this kind is all about raw power, as well as the unstoppable forces of nature. There are also many fire-breathing dragons in fiction. Some of them include Smaug from The Hobbit and Drogon in Game Of Thrones. To make the flames ‘pop’, you’ll need to go for a full-color inking. Some artists can even use special techniques to make the fiery details seem to glow on your skin. Men with this tattoo aren’t afraid to stand out, so don’t choose it if you’re not fully committed!
17. Colorful Dragon Tattoo
Colour can be a great addition to a dragon tattoo. Not only will it give your inking personality and make it more unique, but it can also have a symbolic meaning. In China and Japan, different colored dragons have different powers. Using multiple contrasting colors can also be a great way of giving your ink dimension and depth. Some popular color choices are blue, green, orange, and red, but the limit is your imagination.
18. Dragon and Phoenix Tattoo
In the Feng Shui tradition, the phoenix and the dragon are perfect mates. They are the two most powerful mythical creatures. When they come together, there is an ideal balance of energy. In this instance, the dragon represents masculine yang energy and the phoenix feminine yin energy. For that reason, the dragon and phoenix are often considered a symbol of love and marriage. You could opt for this tattoo if you are a newlywed. This inking can be quite complicated, so many men choose to place it on their back. However, you could have a smaller version drawn on your chest, over your heart, instead. It’s also a badass couple’s tattoo choice to get with your other half.
19. Floral Dragon Tattoo
Flowers have been a popular tattoo choice for centuries. Traditionally, sailors had them inked to represent the happiness and love waiting for them back home on dry land. However, different flowers have different meanings. While roses often represent love, cherry blossoms are a symbol of mortality as well as beauty in Japan. They are frequently used in classic Japanese tattoo designs for that reason. Because they are soft and colorful, flower tattoos create a dramatic contrast when paired with a scaly dragon in black ink.
20. Dragon Eye Tattoo
Dragon eye tattoos are fierce and striking. If you want a fearsome inking that will command attention, this is it. The forearm is an ideal placement for this tattoo as you can roll up your sleeves and show off your ink whenever you like. To create a realistic dragon eye, your artist will need to be very skilled. Many people opt for a photorealistic style, while others go for a more fantastical or comic-inspired look. Whatever you choose, your dragon eye tattoo is sure to stand out from the crowd.
What is the Meaning of a Dragon Tattoo?
Dragon tattoos symbolize many things. Some people might associate them with courage, physical strength, and raw power. In many countries, warriors wore dragons on their armor or painted them on flags. Today, people can also see dragons as a protective or even spiritual symbol, guarding the wearer against harm. Another meaning of the dragon tattoo is the Chinese zodiac sign. If you are born in the year of the dragon, you are likely to be an ambitious natural leader who's not afraid of a challenge and plays by your own rules.
Are dragon tattoos bad luck?
Different cultures and backgrounds have differing beliefs about what makes a tattoo bad luck. In Chinese culture, it is unlucky to fill in the eyes of a dragon tattoo until the tattoo is completed, because [with the eyes being the window to the soul] the dragon will feel the pain of getting tattooed once its eyes are completed and its soul intact.
What does a black dragon tattoo mean?
Black dragons are associated with experience and wisdom.
What does a green dragon tattoo mean?
Green dragons are associated with nature.
What does a gold dragon tattoo mean?
Gold dragons represent value and variety.
What does a blue dragon tattoo mean?
Blue dragons are gentle, forgiving, and benevolent.
What does a yellow dragon tattoo mean?
Yellow dragons are noble companions.
Arabella Roden is a skilled writer and sub-editor with over ten years of experience across print, digital, and B2B. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism and specializes in beauty, hairstyles, fashion, tattoos, and lifestyle topics. Arabella is currently the Chief Sub Editor at Mecca Brands and has been writing for The Trend Spotter since 2019.
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