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, to 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 44 leg and thigh tattoos to give you some major ink inspiration.
Soft Bouquet Leg Tattoo
Try pairing a big bouquet design with thin, wispy lines to keep the tattoo feeling light and delicate, rather than overpowering. Consider shading to create a sense of light and dark to further drive home the design’s daintiness.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Back-of-the-Ankle Leg Tattoo
Getting a tattoo on the back of the leg, right above the ankle, is a slightly painful spot to tattoo 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.
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 or linework for details, use different 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Laurel Sprig Leg Tattoo
Placing a laurel sprig along the calf at an angle will mimic the shape of the body part and give the floral some movement. By using larger elements and simple line detailing, the ink has a simple yet chic vibe.