The leg and thigh area are often overlooked as prime real estate for tattoos, but they have the potential to look really cool, thanks to factors like the amount of space the area allows and the innate movement of the leg. Each area offers something different. While the thigh is large, it does give way to more movement. On the other hand, the calf is much more rigid—but also much smaller in terms of width. Not to mention the pain level: Thighs tend to be less painful in contrast to the shin, which is one of the most painful placements on the entire body to get inked.
It’s important to do your research on what kind of design will look best and in what placement (plus, how much pain you’re willing to endure) before you set your tattoo appointment. If you’re not really sure where to start, or if you already have too many ideas to narrow down, here are 37 leg and thigh tattoos to give you some major ink inspiration.
Outer Ankle Tattoo
A tattoo on the outer part of your leg (above the ankle) can either be concealed or shown off. Place it high enough that it can be covered by pants if that’s something you’re worried about.
Simple Dots Leg Tattoo
Even though the leg has a lot of surface area, that doesn’t mean your tattoo has to be large. Try going for something more minimal, like a series of dots, to add a subtle pop to your leg; use color to make it stand out even more.
Wrapped Vines Leg Tattoo
Play with the innate movement of the leg by having vines and leaves wrap around the body rather than stand in a stoic bouquet. Stick with one line thickness and minimal detailing to draw attention to your body instead of away from it.
Upper Thigh Tattoo
Give your tattoo a layer of intimacy by placing it at the top of your thigh, either inside or outside depending on your preference. This delicate line drawling is so beautiful, though, that you might want to showcase it more often.
Intricately Detailed Leg Tattoo
In this tattoo, a very small area is defined, but the eye is really drawn to the image inside of it, not the shape.
A tattoo on the inner part of your leg (above the ankle) has a naturally intimate feeling to it, making it the perfect place for meaningful tattoos. This is also a great spot for those who want to be able to easily cover their tattoo when they desire.
Berry Branch Leg Tattoo
Wrapping floral doesn’t just have to be leaves! Use a berry-based design as an excuse to play up bright colors with minimal, thin black lines.
Mandala Leg Tattoo
The thigh is the perfect placement for a mandala tattoo due to its size and shape. Because a mandala has a lot of ornate detailing and curves, it can be adjusted to fit your unique thigh shape.
Slightly Matching Leg Tattoos
Why not add a bit of whimsy by getting matching tattoos on each leg? Add even more uniqueness to your design by making them similar (but not matching), like these florals.
Negative Space Leg Tattoo
Just because you’re a fan of intricate detailing in your ink doesn’t mean your tattoos have to be large. Here, shading and dot detailing are used within the lines of very small leaves and flower buds, making for an ornate and impressive design.
Horizontal Landscape Leg Tattoo
Disrupt the shape of the leg for maximum impact by getting a horizontal tattoo. This unique, one-off landscape design is kept extremely minimal with its medium-thick black lines and simple shapes.
Back-of-the-Ankle Leg Tattoo
Getting a tattoo on the back of the leg, right above the ankle, is a slightly painful spot thanks to the tendons in the area. However, it makes for a really cool spot for your ink—especially a dark or bold piece like this one—because it’s easily tucked away.
Who would have guessed roller skating would become quite the popular activity these days? Whether you're a longtime skater or have only recently picked it up, a cute pair of skates is a fun way to show your appreciation for the sport.
Ornate Leg Tattoo
Try going for an ornate design that spreads up your ankle onto your lower calf for an eye-catching and interesting placement idea. Rather than using shading for details, use different line thicknesses to vary the look without cluttering it.
Hidden Thigh Tattoo
Stick a small, delicate design in the middle of the largest part of your thigh to create a contrast that will definitely catch attention (when you choose to show the ink off, that is). Keep the tattoo otherwise very simple to give it a minimal vibe.
Sun-and-Moon Thigh Tattoo
The sun and the moon look fantastic when placed on the thigh because the round design highlights your natural curvature. Feel free to add whatever detailing best suits your aesthetic, but keep one central point to give the design more structure.
A small design right above the ankle, on the back of the leg, looks great peeking out of the bottom of jeans or the top of socks. Keep the lines clean and only use black ink for crisp lines that will always stand out in the best way.
Single Flower Thigh Tattoo
Instead of a big floral arrangement, opt for one floral bud and spread it out with leaves and smaller buds for a more minimal look. Mimic the shape of your thigh with the flower to highlight the movement of each element.
Phrase Thigh Tattoo
A text-based tattoo will always look great on the thigh due to the area’s size. Using a script font, however, adds an elevated touch; it’ll both emphasize the shape of the thigh and feel more intricate.
Pastel Leg Tattoo
To give your design a delicate feel, go for pastel colors in a specific color palette. You can emphasize the daintiness by ditching the black lines for a deeper version of the hue you’re outlining.
Hand-Drawn Leg Tattoo
Stick to one thickness for all your lines and don’t be strict about keeping them straight to give your tattoo a hand-drawn feeling. Use simple, clean shapes to emphasize the no-frills design.
Ankle Crawl Tattoo
For more intricate tattoo pairs, keep the elements as similar as possible—one line thickness, one overall design, and one placement. These tattoos spread up the ankle onto the lower leg as well as onto the foot, though the simple details keep from overwhelming the area.
Double Rose Leg Tattoo
If you’re looking to spruce up a simple floral design, try duplicating the main image and adding another color, like this black and red rose. Add more minimal detail to the ink by having the two flowers intertwine, otherwise keeping the lines simple.
Text Leg Tattoo
Placing small text right above the ankle feels delicate both because of its size and its placement near the bone. Use thin lines and numbers to make the tattoo feel extremely light.
Small Branch Leg Tattoo
A small branch makes for a great calf tattoo because of its similarity to the shape of the leg. Use thin lines and strokes that seem to overlap for a sketched, artistic look.
Angelic Leg Tattoo
We're in awe of this spiritual drawing of an angel in the clouds—consider it a constant guardian.
Line Art Leg Tattoo
For an aesthetic twist on the typical floral arrangement, try a line-art design. The seemingly never-ending, overlapping lines feel modern and minimal at the same time.
"Matching" Leg Tattoos
Getting two tattoos in the same theme on each leg almost weaves a natural thread between each half of your body, giving it a sense of symmetry. Opt for designs that aren’t exact copies to increase the originality and customization.
Sun and Moon Leg Tattoo
A round design, like a sun and moon, will look great right above your knee on the back of your leg. Because gravity pulls toward that spot, a circular design will look like it’s inversely bursting out and radiating.
Sketch-Like Leg Tattoo
By making sure that every line in a tattoo is doubled up or filled in, you create a sketch-like design that uses the aesthetics of blackwork but the delicacy of minimalism. Although they overlap, keep the lines as crisp as possible so the ink doesn’t seem muddled.
Branch With Leaves Leg Tattoo
Emphasize the circular shape of your knee by wrapping a leaf design around it enough to highlight it but not enough to completely encircle it. The imperfect lines and wonky sizing of the elements make the tattoo feel hand-drawn.
Daisy Leg Tattoo
A small flower on the back of the calf is the perfect design for those who like a hidden tattoo. When it’s warm, your ink will be on full display; when it’s cold, it’s yours alone.
Abstract Thigh Tattoo
The calf is the perfect place to experiment with abstract design styles because there’s tons of space to flesh the ink out until it looks perfect. Add a small pop of color, like this red heart, to offset any thick outlines.
Sage Leg Tattoo
If you have a specific plant in mind to get tatted, make sure your artist is experienced with shadows and line detailing. The more your artist can master these aesthetic values, the more realistic your tattoo will look.
Tiny Butterfly Leg Tattoo
Situating a tiny, minimal design—like this butterfly—right next to the ankle socket will highlight just how dainty and intimate the tattoo is. Keep it as simple as possible to play that up even more; any extra detailing can feel heavy.
Thigh Band Tattoo
A band along the upper thigh has an intimate vibe, but more than that, it feels delicate placed against the widest part of the leg. However, the soft lines and light detailing keep it feeling dainty rather than heavy.
Moon Leg Tattoo
Placing a moon tattoo directly above the ankle highlights the shape and natural movement of the area. Because there's a fair amount of detailing, the pictured design relies on different shapes and outline thicknesses for elaboration.