When I first played Skyrim on the day it launched, I was 13 years old, filled with excitement and joy at getting my hands on the next Elder Scrolls title. That feeling is something I still remember today. It was a pure feeling that you only have as a young person before life, and all the stresses that come along with it start to bog you down, and the little things like buying a new game become superfluous.
Skyrim was the last game I felt this kind of excitement for, but thankfully, the Bethesda title wasn’t done giving me memories just yet. When I first loaded Skyrim, the first time I saw a Dragon, and the first time Astrid and the Dark Brotherhood abducted me – all of these events are indelibly inked on my mind.
Jumping forward by more than ten years, I am still playing Skyrim, and now I even get paid to talk about it; what a wild ride.
My story is my own; however, after talking with many Skyrim and TES fans over the years, I have found that most of us have our own precious memories of the game and how it affected our lives, whether it was through or formative years or not, the game still seems to find a way to leave a mark on anyone who seriously invests time into it.
All of this brings me to my main point: anything that leaves a mark on your psyche is well worth a space on your body in the form of a tattoo. Many people will question your decision to get a reference to a game tattooed on your body. However, as someone with many silly and questionable tattoos, I am here to tell you that if you get something meaningful to you, regardless of the reason, a tattoo is always a good idea.
With Skyrim specifically, I honestly think you cannot go wrong; the lore behind each scene in Skyrim is intense, helping to layer each tattoo with numerous meanings, and this only helps to bolster the amazing art style and creativity we already see in the game. Therefore, in this article, we are going to delve down the rabbit hole of Skyrim-themed tattoos together to find you your next or first tattoo. Let’s go!
Before Getting in the Chair!
Many of you, who are yet to get your first tattoo, will be excited and anxious at the thought of getting your first one. Don’t worry; we have all been there. However, the tattoo studio or the chair is not somewhere you want your mind racing. By the time you arrive at any tattoo studio, all the decision-making and worry should be out the window, having already been set in concrete before the appointment was even booked.
A tattoo is a big decision, especially your first one; therefore, many considerations must be made before you get inked. First of all, I would recommend that you have the design or the main concert of your tattoo decided on for at least three months. This will ensure that the idea or concept is not just a passing phase or impulse that you will regret later.
Some people say you should wait six months, but in my experience, three is often enough. If you want to triple-check that you will enjoy your design/idea, save it as your phone’s wallpaper for this time. You are good to go if you still like it after three months.
Outside of the idea itself, you need to nail down a few other things before sitting in that chair. Take a look at these below:
As society becomes more accepting of tattoos in everyday life, allowing people to have visible tattoos in various workplaces, the art form’s popularity is only increasing. Nearly everybody in my extended friend group has at least one tattoo nowadays.
Due to this surge in popularity, more and more talented individuals see life as a tattoo artist as a viable way to make a living. Therefore, as with any field, the more people involved, the better it becomes, filled with innovation from new talents daily.
Therefore, before you choose your artist or the style of tattoo you want, I recommend that you look at these tattoo styles for yourself to pick which one is your favorite; this will help you select an artist down the road:
- Classic Americana
- New School
- Stick and Poke
- Realistic Polka
Now that you have these main styles down examine each in turn and think about which suits you the most. From here, finding the best tattoo artist for you and your budget will be a lot easier.
Color or Blackwork
After you have done the challenging task of selecting a tattoo style that is right for you, the next question you have to ask yourself is color or blackwork.
Many people instinctively know the answer to this question, knowing whether or not they want their bodies filled with color or muted tones. However, if you are one of those who cannot decide, think about your long-term tattoo journey. I know a lot of people who like both styles and opt to place color tattoos on one part of their body while saving another part for black and white pieces.
Lastly, if you still cannot decide, talk to your artist about what they think will look better for your design. A good artist will have an eye for this kind of thing and will be able to advise you.
Size and Placement
When I think about my own tattoo regrets, the main thing I always think about is the size and placement of some of my pieces. Of course, some of them deserved to be placed in a nearby bin, but that rant is for another time.
With my regret in mind, please take the time to think about the placement of your tattoo and the size. Firstly, regarding the tattoo’s placement, you must consider how it will affect your career or future job opportunities. For example, if you are looking for a skull tattoo on your hand and you are a kindergarten teacher, this decision might prove a little silly.
Regarding size, remember that many artists charge by the hour, meaning that the bigger the tattoo, the longer it takes and the more your tattoo will cost. Therefore, discuss the size of your tattoo with your artist and inform them of your desired budget; most good artists won’t be offended and will help ensure you are comfortable with the final price.
In summary, when considering the size and placement of your tattoo, keep these things in mind:
- Possible effects on future/current career.
- The natural fit of your tattoo.
- Your preference and budget.
- The opinion of your artist.
Choosing the Right Artist
Now that you have gotten over some important decisions, it is time to decide on the most important aspect of your tattoo journey, your artist. A good artist will always place their client’s happiness, safety, and satisfaction above all else, ensuring that you have a wonderful experience. Of course, they must also be insanely talented.
A good artist is the most important thing to find when getting a tattoo, and I would even say that it is more important than the tattoo idea itself; after all, a good artist will be able to turn dirt into gold. These artists will also ensure to treat you extra well when it is your first tattoo, explaining the entire process, how it all works, and what to do after you leave their shop.
At this point, feel free to explain any phobias regarding needles or any anxiety you may have around the whole process; they will be sure to comfort you.
When putting together this list of the best Skyrim tattoos, I really had to narrow down my options to ensure you got the best of the best.
So, with this in mind, please check out the rules and limitations I set for myself when curating this list:
All designs on this list must be unique; no duplicates are allowed!
The tattoo design and finish must be of high quality. No stencils or doodles on paper are being accepted.
Skyrim must be the main theme of the overall piece.
The designs must be well made, placed, and appropriately sized.
Now that we have the boring admin section of this article out of the way, let’s take a look at the best Skyrim tattoos currently out there.
Small Skyrim Tattoos
For some reason that I cannot really put my finger on, the Sweetroll from Skyrim has become a symbol for the game that many fans love to share.
This one is perfect for any fan of Skyrim looking for a fun little filler piece. The tattoo itself is a little more cartoonish in style than the regular Skyrim Sweetroll, but I think it drives home the piece’s lighthearted nature.
Yes, it’s another Sweetroll-inspired tattoo, but this one is so cool I just couldn’t ignore it. This Sweetroll design is full of fun colors and is a reference to a line that many of the guards throughout Skyrim will say to the player when they are approached, “Let me guess, someone, stole your Sweetroll.” This line serves to mock the player and their presumably silly request.
I love the idea behind this tattoo and the old-school style. This tattoo takes the famous iron helmet that was used through all the Skyrim promotional videos at the time of launch and places it on a skull; underneath this helmet, we see a banner with ‘Dovakhiin’ written on it; this is, of course, Dragonborn in the dragon tongue.
I also love the little extra touches around this skull, including the arrow piercing the eye socket and the flowers surrounding it. In essence, this tattoo was incredibly well thought out and designed.
It’s no secret that there is a large crossover between fans of TES and Fallout franchises; after all, Bethesda now makes both games. Therefore, this tattoo is perfect for gamers who love both worlds.
The tattoo is a half-power armor helmet from Fallout 3 and a Daedric helm from Skyrim. The linework of this tattoo is awesome, and I am really happy they decided to leave it as a mere outline. I really like this one, and it is definitely making it into my ‘TBT’ list (to be tattooed).
Here we have another avid gamer who loves both the Elder Scrolls franchise and Fallout. However, he has also thrown Dishonored into the mix to keep us on our toes.
The use of the three iconic masks/helms of these three franchises is amazing. Although, it is the detail and precision of the artist that steals the show here. Each piece is intricate and beautifully completed in a blackwork style.
One of the coolest weapons in the game, purely based on its design, is the Daedric dagger. This weapon is so unique and perfectly crafted that you just have to admire its beauty. This is why it makes a perfect tattoo.
The blackwork style of this tattoo suits the dagger and helps show off all the intricate little details in the piece—very cool work from @lunacy_tattoos.
Here, we have a really clean and crisp version of the Skyrim logo. For me, this tattoo is more about the skill of the artist than anything else. The shading and clean lines of the piece stand out against many other attempts one can find all over the internet.
When you complete the first Dark Brotherhood mission for the Aretino boy, you are greeted by this message from the Dark Brotherhood. It is an ominous but cool part of the game for anyone who rose to the rank of Listener in Oblivion.
The tattoo itself is really well done; I think that the choice to have it finished in blackwork was a bold but correct decision, as many versions of this tattoo are usually spotted with red blood, making the piece look a little over the top.
Another rendition of the Dark Brotherhood’s message is seen here. The tattoo itself is completely excellent and is filled with little references to TES franchise, including little greater soul gems at either side of the skull.
The design of this tattoo is amazing, and the way the artist has managed to fit such great detail into a small space is great to see.
When developing Skyrim, the developers put a lot of effort into making their own language and writing system for the dragon tongue. What better way to honor this than by getting the three words of power that make up a full-powered shout tattooed on your body?
In my opinion, this is a much better option for fans of Skyrim to get than your typical tribal or Norse symbols that nobody else will ever understand. At least with this one, you get to show off your favorite shout.
This blackwork piece managed to combine two of the most important symbols in Skyrim, the iron helmet that has become synonymous with the Dragonborn and the symbol for the game itself.
The addition of this helmet is a perfect way to differentiate yourself from the multitude of basic Skyrim symbol tattoos that litter conventions across the world.
My love for the Deadric dagger appears to be shared across the world. Unlike the previous Daedric dagger tattoo, this tattoo is full of color and set against a glowing orb with darkness spewing out of it.
This tattoo is the perfect balance of comic-style design and color work, showing off the dagger in a lighthearted manner.
While the Daedric Prince may have other opinions, I think this rendition of Mehrunes Razor, complete with a butterfly resting on the hilt, is simply perfect.
The lines of this one are incredibly clean and well executed, and the artist has managed to seamlessly inject more of the client’s personality into something that could easily have been plain.
When considering weapons in Skyrim for their sheer beauty, it is hard to pass the glass dagger. This turquoise-colored dagger has been recreated beautifully for the client, complete with lovely flowers running around the hilt and blade.
Once again, this tattoo is the perfect melding of two worlds. I especially enjoy how we can see the first step in the process compared to the healed piece.
Another glass dagger, except this time it has been completed in a more old school/neotraditional style that really makes the color of the blade pop on the skin. I especially enjoy the addition of the hand wrapping around the hilt.
This tattoo shows some great skill and thought from the artist, especially considering we all know how hard hands are to get right.
I love it when anyone blends two worlds that should never really meet. This tattoo is perfect as it beautifully melds the two worlds with very little effort. The tattoo itself is simple, but the idea is what makes this piece special.
This tattoo is another crips representation of the coolest helm in all of TES franchise. The Daedric helm is completed here in a thick line work style that helps to show off all the great details of the piece of armor without complicating anything.
Throughout TES franchise, Khajits have gotten a rather bad reputation as thieves and pickpockets. Well, this tattoo does nothing to dissuade this stereotype, displaying a cutpurse Khajit in all its glory.
For me, the Khajit looks a little too feline when compared with the race we find in Skyrim; however, if you are a big fan of Skyrim and cats, this might be the piece for you.
Larger Skyrim Tattoos
Nothing is more iconic in Skyrim than an iron-clad Dragoborn facing off against Alduin, the Eater of Worlds. This tattoo features a perfect blend of blackwork intricacy and detail. I also love seeing the detail in the stencil before the entire half-sleeve is completed.
I can only imagine how many hours this entire piece would take, but by the Nine Divines, it will be worth it.
This tattoo is for those of us who fell in love with TES franchise long before Skyrim and have stuck with it through all these years. The Oblivion logo takes up the majority of the space. However, the Skyrim logo seems to have a lot more fine details in its overall design.
For me, a lot of leftover space will need to be filled with some extra TES content to make this a truly amazing tattoo.
This tattoo is vaguely reminiscent of the many Sign tattoos that you see floating around the Witcher community. However, I think this version, completed with the schools of Magicka found in TES franchise, is far better. Not only is more detail added to each piece, but the overall design looks fuller and less like a cheap gimmick.
I also enjoy the fine-line detail that runs through the entire piece, helping to pull it all together.
This intricate tattoo is an amazing representation of the big boss of Skyrim, Alduin. Combining blackwork and dot-work perfectly, this tattoo is truly amazing, and I have to give props to @adamsmithtattoo for it.
This tattoo is another one that has taken a central idea, a bow and quiver set from Skyrim, and surrounded it with other little pieces from the game, including the Amulet of Mara.
The piece is amazing and filled with great detail. The amulet and quiver specifically stand out from the rest.
This piece is really amazing, featuring the striking face of Aela the Huntress wearing the skin of one of her recent kills in a neo-traditional style that uses a great color pallet to really stand out.
We normally see this style with Aela replaced with a Native American woman. The decision to take this idea and switch to make this one Skyrim related is really cool.
This blackwork-style version of the Mace of Molag Bal is something to behold. Like many of the weapons featured in this list, this mace is full of creative detail and perfectly represents the aggressive design of the weapon.
This half-sleeve Skyrim tattoo is still in the works. However, each completed element is still something to see. The Nightingale agent standing above the flying Alduin is perfect and filled with blackwork detail.
While this style of a tattoo may not be for everyone, I think the individual elements of this piece might fit into your next piece somewhere.
This amazing chest piece, with one dragon on each shoulder, is truly amazing. The artist has managed to use nothing but intricate lines and shading to display the difference between these two dragons. Paarthurnax is lighter and somehow older looking, perfectly representing his age and wisdom, while Alduin looks young and angry, ready to destroy the world.
The decision to place this piece of the chest, with each dragon dominating the front of each collar bone, was a great one and helps visually represent the battle between the two dragons later in the game.
Then lastly, we have the Spriggan, one of the hardest creatures to deal with in Skyrim. However, this rendition of the monster looks slightly nicer than the typical Spriggan, featuring a head more akin to Groot than the monsters we find throughout Skyrim.
This tattoo is perfect for players who want a Skyrim tattoo but want to avoid getting something obvious.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: When is the next Elder Scrolls game coming out?
Answer: We still do not know when TES 6 is coming out, as Bethesda is being pretty closed-lipped about the entire project. Estimates put the game’s release anywhere between 2024 and 2028.
Question: Is Skyrim hard to play?
Answer: Skyrim’s difficulty can be adjusted to be as difficult or easy as you need it to be. This is why so many players of all ages can enjoy the game.
Question: Should I play Skyrim now?
Answer: Even though the game has been out for over a decade now, the constant new graphical releases of the game have kept the title looking pretty good for a 2011 game. The story is still amazing, and the gameplay is something everyone should experience.
So, there you have it, a quick look at some of the best Skyrim-based tattoos currently making the rounds on Instagram at the moment. As you can imagine, the list was virtually endless. However, I do think that this list has some of the best pieces of art currently out in the world today.
Hopefully, you can take inspiration from those who have walked the Skyrim tattoo path before you and get your own, using this list as a focal point for your decision. Regardless, I wish you look in your tattoo journey and hope that you come out with something awesome.
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