If there's a will to tattoo your skin, there's a way to mess it up. Luckily, even if it doesn't pan out, you don't have to wear the disappointment forever. There are a couple of approaches to saving your image. This time, we'll focus on cover-ups.

They can either completely hide the old design or incorporate some of its elements into the new one, and it's amazing how big of a difference they can make.

From an alien transforming into a cat to a cross "growing" into a tree, continue scrolling to check out the cover-ups Bored Panda found on the subreddit r/FixedTattoos and the conversation about this technique that we had with Alice Kendall, the owner of Wonderland Tattoo in Portland, Oregon.

#1

Pikachu

Pikachu

DarkStarFTW Report

Toko Danganronpa
Community Member
1 year ago

Aaaaaw

View more comments
#2

Just Wow

Just Wow

shaldaya Report

Caiman 94920
Community Member
1 year ago

Amazing artist on the right

View more comments

Kendall is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area but has family ties to Oregon. She began tattooing in 1993 but took it up professionally in 2001 at Infinity Tattoo in Portland.

"I started doing cover-ups pretty early in my career," the artist told Bored Panda. "I always believed that cover-ups didn't have to be super dark or all black. I believe almost any tattoo can be covered up, but it helps if people are flexible with the design and realistic about the outcome."

The process isn't as simple as just applying a new tattoo over the top of the old one. It's actually a bit different from what the term can lead you to believe.

#3

An Amazing Portrait Tattoo Fix

An Amazing Portrait Tattoo Fix

dwdwaterdrop Report

Samantha Lomb
Community Member
1 year ago (edited)

I am impressed the artist could salvage that portrait

View More Replies...
View more comments
#4

Flowers Cover Up

Flowers Cover Up

maryeink Report

zims
Community Member
1 year ago

Lovely, sweet, and delicate

View more comments

When a person gets their first tattoo, the needle deposits the ink into the dermis layer (below the epidermis), at least one millimeter from the surface of the skin. The ink of the cover-up tattoo goes into the same location, so it's actually mixing with the old ink. The result is the combination of the two.

For example, if the person had something tattooed in red and an artist applies blue for the cover-up, it's going to come out purple. Darker colors dominate lighter ones, so black is usually the preferred choice in cover-up work.

If this sounds complex, that's because it is. Cover-ups are their own territory and many tattoo artists don't even venture there.

#5

I Like Both The Before And After Of This Tattoo, But A Well Done Rework Nonetheless

I Like Both The Before And After Of This Tattoo, But A Well Done Rework Nonetheless

dwdwaterdrop Report

Couch potato
Community Member
1 year ago

The difference between the detail is huge

View More Replies...
View more comments
#6

You Can't Lie, This Is A Good Fix

You Can't Lie, This Is A Good Fix

The_Cpt_Hazza Report

Seán Baron
Community Member
1 year ago

Tattoo on the left "Yeah, I've seen a cat before!"

View more comments
#7

Fantastic White Rabbit Rework By Ali Burke At Highwater Gallery, Swansea UK

Fantastic White Rabbit Rework By Ali Burke At Highwater Gallery, Swansea UK

whitestainedwood Report

glowworm2
Community Member
1 year ago

The rabbit doesn't look so sad anymore!

View More Replies...
View more comments

"Since I tend to do full-color cover-ups, sometimes the old tattoo will bleed back through somewhat in the healing process," Alice Kendall explained. "I usually do at least one touch-up after the initial cover-up is healed. Cover-ups are most successful when you can create the designs to fit over the old tattoo and leave some negative space throughout the design."

"I also prefer to use botanicals with lots of leaves because it gives you a lot of flexibility with the shape. Darker, cooler colors cover better than warmer, lighter colors, however, white can be added to colors to help fade back the old tattoo because white is a very opaque color."

#8

Wow What A Difference

Wow What A Difference

butteryuzzies Report

Samantha Lomb
Community Member
1 year ago

That first tat looked like skin disease or something, just WTF

View More Replies...
View more comments
#9

Cruci-Fixed

Cruci-Fixed

retardvark Report

Sue Hazlewood
Community Member
1 year ago

Pretty tree

View More Replies...
View more comments
#10

Amazing Difference

Amazing Difference

shaldaya Report

BlackestDawn
Community Member
1 year ago

Not so much coverup but rather rework and improve.

View More Replies...
View more comments

Looking back at her long career, Kendall said that breaking up the old tattoo with enough detail (black lines) and dark and light areas (highlights and shadows) is what will bring the most success.

"Another factor is the person's skin," she added. "Some people hold color (and black) so well that it's tough to suppress the old tattoo. In that case, the person may need more than one touch-up. I do think, although a faded tattoo is easier to cover, it's more cost-effective and less painful to cover a tattoo as opposed to laser removal."

#11

Mary Who? I Only Love Marge

Mary Who? I Only Love Marge

noijonas Report

Jace
Community Member
1 year ago

Did this cost less than having it "removed" with lasers?

View More Replies...
View more comments
#12

Beautifully Executed

Beautifully Executed

shaldaya Report

Laurie
Community Member
1 year ago

Fantastic

View more comments
#13

Alien To Cat

Alien To Cat

sinanyldz_tattooer Report

beastmachine.
Community Member
1 year ago

Now I see why my cat acts so strangely

View more comments
#14

Cover Up Done By Rodney Eckenberger

Cover Up Done By Rodney Eckenberger

Back2Beantown Report

Dan Buczynski
Community Member
1 year ago

That's super, man.

View More Replies...
View more comments

With that being said, many tattoo artists prefer people to have a few laser treatments first if the original is fairly dark. "In that case, one would need to wait at least 2-3 months after removal before getting the new tattoo as lasered tattoos continue to fade for some time after treatment and can cause fading in the new work."

So cover-ups can take a while. But that means nothing when you compare this time to the life-long repulsiveness a no-longer-wanted tattoo can cause.

#15

One Of My Favourite Backpiece Cover Up

One Of My Favourite Backpiece Cover Up

alex_santucci_tattooer Report

Lauren Caswell
Community Member
1 year ago (edited)

The mermaid thing is actually part duck or platypus, it looks like it has a flipper! And no ribs. I love the half mandala!

View more comments
#16

Got This One Done A While Ago, What Do You Think About This Bad Guy On A Guy's Leg? Imo It's An Awesome "Funny" Tattoo Which I Love!

Got This One Done A While Ago, What Do You Think About This Bad Guy On A Guy's Leg? Imo It's An Awesome "Funny" Tattoo Which I Love!

ynsein Report

Couch potato
Community Member
1 year ago

OOOH STITCH SO CUTE!

View more comments
#17

Little Before & After

Little Before & After

reddit.com Report

Cactus McCoy
Community Member
1 year ago

Someone really saved that tattoo.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#18

Compass Taking Me No Where Now Takes Me Everywhere

Compass Taking Me No Where Now Takes Me Everywhere

crabytree Report

Whatshername
Community Member
1 year ago

Wooow the added depth makes it look amazing

View More Replies...
View more comments
#19

If This Can Be Covered Up Then Anything Can Be

If This Can Be Covered Up Then Anything Can Be

dwdwaterdrop Report

WilvanderHeijden
Community Member
1 year ago

It's amazing how quick tribal tattoos got out of fashion.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#20

Cover-Up

Cover-Up

gorilaink Report

beastmachine.
Community Member
1 year ago

More of glow up!!

View more comments
See Also on Bored Panda
#21

Beautiful Cover Up By Tattooist Muha

Beautiful Cover Up By Tattooist Muha

dwdwaterdrop Report

Lauren Caswell
Community Member
1 year ago

So pretty

View more comments
#22

Love This Floral Cover Up!

Love This Floral Cover Up!

dwdwaterdrop Report

Samantha Lomb
Community Member
1 year ago

Really lovely work

View more comments
#23

Zombie Pinocchio

Zombie Pinocchio

micha_h_artwork Report

Cynner
Community Member
1 year ago

Freaking awesome, zombie Pinocchio! 🙌

View More Replies...
View more comments
#24

From Derp Knight To Dark Knight

From Derp Knight To Dark Knight

express_sushi49 Report

Whatshername
Community Member
1 year ago

Though it looks really cool and fresh, the original wasn't that bad imo. Actually, the head on the right looks a bit stretched.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#25

Peacockblob Transformation Done By Whitney At Boss Tattoos In Yyc

Peacockblob Transformation Done By Whitney At Boss Tattoos In Yyc

m-o-u-se Report

S Sutton
Community Member
1 year ago

Thats the opposite side!

View More Replies...
View more comments
#26

The Bird (Remember Kurt Halsey?) Was Done Back In 2005, And The Little Leaves In 2010. Last Year In 2018, I Decided To Get A Cover Up. The Artist, Jen Tonic Who Is Currently Located In Berlin, Designed The Tattoo. The Poppy Is My State Flower

The Bird (Remember Kurt Halsey?) Was Done Back In 2005, And The Little Leaves In 2010. Last Year In 2018, I Decided To Get A Cover Up. The Artist, Jen Tonic Who Is Currently Located In Berlin, Designed The Tattoo. The Poppy Is My State Flower

traanne21 Report

Katy McMouse
Community Member
1 year ago

Off topic, but I really, really hope the tattoo artist's middle name is Ann.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#27

Blackout-Tattoo Cover Up (Trypophobia Anyone?)

Blackout-Tattoo Cover Up (Trypophobia Anyone?)

OuterInnerMonologue Report

Samantha Lomb
Community Member
1 year ago

I wonder how that will hold up as it ages

View More Replies...
View more comments
#28

Before And After My Coverup

Before And After My Coverup

unphogetable Report

Laurie
Community Member
1 year ago

Sweet

View More Replies...
View more comments
#29

Rocket Cover Up

Rocket Cover Up

fireblade_tattoo Report

Andy Acceber
Community Member
1 year ago

This one, I can't figure out. Where did the text go?

View More Replies...
View more comments
#30

Had Gotten A “Kiwi” Tattoo With My Chihuahua Footprint In It, Great Concept But Horrible Work. Recently Got It Covered By A Wonderful Artist Who Saved The Paw Print And Gave Me A Great Piece Of My Soul Pup

Had Gotten A “Kiwi” Tattoo With My Chihuahua Footprint In It, Great Concept But Horrible Work. Recently Got It Covered By A Wonderful Artist Who Saved The Paw Print And Gave Me A Great Piece Of My Soul Pup

stlkersally Report

Martha Meyer
Community Member
1 year ago

These are both terrible tats to have on your FOOT.

View More Replies...
View more comments

Note: this post originally had 71 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.

See Also on Bored Panda