Dotwork tattoo

Tattoo styles 4 min read Last updated on August 20, 2020

A Dotwork Tattoo makes use of many dots or points to create an image. Drawing is based on the principle of shading, which depends on the density of the points (making the density of dots the most important factor)—the denser the application of the points, the darker the area. The less crowded the points are, the lighter it looks. In grouping such areas within one image, the tattoo artist achieves better expression and effectiveness.

Take note! Dotwork is not only a tattooing STYLE but also a TECHNIQUE.

Dotwork STYLE is characterized by applying the following pictures:

  • Mandalas
  • Ornaments
  • Star shapes
  • Geometric shapes

While it is possible to make a variety of drawings in other styles, such as depicting faces in the tattooing styles of realism or skulls in the old-school style, Dotwork TECHNIQUE can be used to make up those images.

Features of Dotwork tattooing style:

  • Strict ornamentation is most often depicted.
  • Classic works use one or two colors (a combination of black and red).
  • This style looks better done on large tattoos—the details are not as appreciated in small tattoos.
  • This technique is used to draw tattoos of collars, armbands, or bracelets.
  • Due to the fine and thin contour needle, it is possible to achieve highly detailed work.
  • Viewing such works from afar, it looks like a picture composed of shadows and halftones, but up close, you’ll be surprised that the drawing is completely made of thousands of individual points.

Popular places to have dotwork tattoos done

  • Forearm
  • Chest
  • Under the breasts (especially popular with women)
  • Neck
  • Back of the head (mandalas are a common design on the back of the head)
  • Back

For a dotwork tattoo, choose body parts where it is possible to place a large drawing for maximal effect.


The dotwork first appeared in London in the 90s, when the now popular tattoo artist Xed Lehead began to draw geometric figures with dots.


If the planned tattoo involves geometric figures that require symmetry, tattoo artists usually make sketches beforehand with Adobe Illustrator or other programs before transferring the image to the body to ensure symmetry.