50+ Amazing Half Sleeve Tattoo Ideas For Men And Women

By Jason Hamilton / June 18, 2019
Eagle sketch
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Sleeve tattoos are very popular among men and women alike. They are perfect for showing off, especially if you have a well-toned arm. But what if you can’t afford a full one or want a more discreet arm tattoo? In that case, we suggest getting a half sleeve tattoo.

Will a half sleeve tattoo look any lesser than a full sleeve tattoo? Of course not! If you have a proper design in mind, it will even look way cooler than a full sleeve one! If you are having second thoughts about this, look no further! We are here to help!

In this article, we will be sharing with you our richly curated gallery of half sleeve tattoo ideas that you will most definitely love! We will also discuss with you a background on the half sleeve tattoo and the preferences of both men and women for this kind of tattoo. Designs will also be discussed here if ever you still do not have one in mind.


What Is A Half Sleeve Tattoo?

A half sleeve tattoo is exactly what it sounds like: it covers the upper area of the arm and extends all the way to the shoulder. Sometimes, it even extends to the chest area if the design calls for it. It includes the inner bicep as well, though you may opt to keep that area clean and only focus on the outer arm area.

What makes half sleeve tattoos discreet is that you can easily cover them with a long-sleeved shirt and only flaunt them whenever you feel like it. Nobody will suspect that you have a half sleeve tattoo unless your social media channels are flooded with half-naked pictures of you. So if you fancy an arm tattoo but want to be mum about it, a half sleeve tattoo is for you.


Half Sleeve Tattoo Designs For Men

Men, whenever they are asked to get for a half sleeve tattoo, will almost always go for the designs that will catch your eye. Men will want their half sleeve tattoo to make a big statement whenever revealed to the public which is why they opt for the more detailed and intricate designs available out there. To prove our point, here are some of the well-known half sleeve tattoo designs often used by men:

Skull Tattoo

Skull tattoos are generally conceived as a masculine tattoo design because of the aura and vibe it gives to whoever sees this design. This tattoo is often associated with rockers especially those in the death metal branch of rock music. Goths are also one of the types of people that are associated with this tattoo design since they have this dark aura that surrounds them.


An upper sleeve tattoo of a skull and two roses.

A traditional intricately designed half sleeve tattoo of a skull with a fiery head.


A half sleeve tribal skull tattoo.

a sleeve tattoo a skull wearing a pilot’s goggles during the early ages of flight.


This tattoo design is more often accentuated by roses and other ornaments to make the tattoo design softer and increase its visual impact when you see it the first time. Since this tattoo has a more classic feel to it, a lot of the ’80s and ’90s kids (the golden age of rock bands) get this tattoo to go back to their roots.

a large sleeve tattoo of a skull and a blue hibiscus flower.

A colorful neotraditional sleeve tattoo of a skull with a fiery background.


A highly detailed and intricately designed artsy sleeve tattoo of an angry wold with a helmet made of a skull.

A traditional sleeve tattoo of a skull with a goatee beard.

A colorful sleeve tattoo of a skull with two roses and a green butterfly and additional watercolor tattoo design elements.


Eagle Tattoo

Now this tattoo has been the staple of the stereotype American biker hunk. Eagle tattoos became famous because American bikers would often get this tattoo as a symbol that they are deeply patriotic and that they are a member of a biker gang.  This tattoo design gain prominence during the 1960s and 1970s, the golden age of bikers as some would call it.

A colorful sleeve tattoo of an American Bald Eagle holding the emblem of the United States of America.

A highly detailed sleeve tattoo of a head of an eagle with geometric low poly designed elements added for additional visual appeal.


A sketch like lower sleeve tattoo of an eagle perched on a branch.

A highly detailed and intricately inked sleeve tattoo of an eagle with clear art deco and modernist influences.


A beautifully crafted and beautifully designed half sleeve tattoo of an eagle with the night sky by the forest below.


Despite this tattoo’s association with biker gangs, it is quite good that eagle tattoos have not become infamous or even greatly synonymous to bikers. Since the end of the cold war, more and more American G.Is or soldiers are having this tattoo inked on their sleeves as a visual way of telling others how patriotic they are for the United States.

A watercolor sleeve tattoo of a head of a bald eagle.

A sleeve tattoo of a traditional North American imagery for an eagle.


An insanely detailed and beautifully crafted half sleeve tattoo of a hyper-realistic eagle.

A sleeve tattoo of a tribal eagle holding a snake.

tribal tattoo eagle

Pirate Tattoo

The pirate tattoo is one of the most intricate tattoo designs in this bunch since it has a mostly sketch or painting-like visual appeal. This tattoo design would often not be offered by tattoo artists in their portfolio due to its complexity. The usual shade gradient used in this tattoo is very hard to achieve.

A half sleeve tattoo of an intricately designed pirate ship sailing with all masts down.


A sleeve tattoo of a large pirate ship.

A highly intricate half sleeve tattoo of a pirate ship with stormy skies as the backdrop.


An intricately tattooed sleeve tattoo of a large pirate ship with the jolly roger printed on the mainsail.


A sleeve tattoo of a tattered jolly roger flag usually found in pirate ships.

Typically, the imagery that is used in this tattoo design, ships, helm (steering wheel of a ship), ships under attack by a sea monster, and of course, the classic jolly roger. The jolly roger and helm tattoo designs are the simplest while ships are more intricate and complicated. Anyhow, if you will come across a tattoo artist that has this tattoo style featured in his or her portfolio, without a doubt, go for this design! You will not regret it!

The Samurai Tattoo

The Samurais are a well-known symbol of Japan’s honor, strength, and loyalty. They are the human embodiment of these three traits whenever we talk about Japanese characters. This might be the reason why Samurais are now being used as tattoo designs for the Samurai Tattoo. The symbolism and aesthetic value they have is just immense.

Just in case you are very riled up by this tattoo design and you are surely determined to have a samurai tattoo be inked onto your skin, you must know that there are a lot of styles under this tattoo design (which are very gorgeous if we say so ourselves). From the usual samurai tattoo design to the more exotic samurai tattoo armor there is something for everyone in samurai tattoo designs.

Here are some of the samurai tattoo designs we thought you may want to check out:

A fully armed samurai tattoo on the upper sleeves.

A very intricate neotraditional tattoo of a samurai helmet and mask.

A large chest and upper sleeve tattoo of a samurai.

A sleeve tattoo of a samurai mask and helmet.

An intricately detailed samurai mask tattoo on the thigh.

A shoulder plate armor tattoo inspired by high ranking samurai armor.

A samurai helmet tattoo on the sleeves.

Half Sleeve Tattoo Designs For Women

Originally, women do not get this kind of tattoo because it is more associated with men and masculinity. In recent years, however, more and more women are now getting this tattoo because they are beginning to see the beauty of this tattoo.

Women who get the half sleeve tattoo will often get the design that is full of meaning. They would want their tattoo to represent something to them. Here are some of the designs they pick that they see is full of meaning:

Flower Tattoo

The flower tattoo is the most common tattoo design for women out there since this is undoubtedly the first design that was made to cater both ends of the tattoo enthusiast spectrum (i.e. boys and girls). This tattoo would most often be accompanied by other tattoo designs but it can stand on its own if done properly.

An upper sleeve tattoo of cherry blossom flowers still attached with their branch.

An inner upper sleeve tattoo of a pink rose with leaves.

An upper sleeve tattoo of a yellow rose with the leaves still attached.

An upper sleeve tattoo of a rose with intricate shading techniques used to do the shadows.

Most often, these flower tattoos will feature a rose of various sizes and colors and then detailed with thorns and leaves just like a real-life rose. However, more and more flowers are now being featured by this tattoo design such as the chrysanthemum.

An upper sleeve tattoo of chrysanthemum with a snake slithering between its petals.

An intricately designed half sleeve tattoo of a black chrysanthemum.

A half sleeve tattoo of a chrysanthemum.

An intricately designed neotraditional sleeve tattoo of a chrysanthemum.

A large half sleeve tattoo of a blue chrysanthemum.

Expect more flowers to fill the tattoo design market in recent years as more species of flowers are being discovered in various parts of the world annually.

Artsy Tattoo

Artsy tattoo designs are fairly new in the tattoo industry if compared to other tattoo designs out there. Since this is a new design, only a few tattoo artists in your area would offer this tattoo design. This can be attributed to the age of the tattoo in relation to the industry.

An artsy sleeve tattoo of a bow and arrow.

An upper sleeve tattoo of a female archer surrounded by stars.

A sleeve tattoo of two artsy arrows.

A vibrantly colored half sleeve tattoo inspired by Picasso’s artworks.

Artsy tattoo sleeve 4

a lower sleeve tattoo of a bear outline framing a forest and mountain.

A large watercolor tattoo of a jellyfish on the sleeve.

A pink and blue watercolor tattoo on the sleeve of a wolf overlayed with the galaxy.

A blue watercolor tattoo of a wolf howling on the sleeve.

A multi-colored vibrant rose watercolor tattoo on the sleeve.

A beautifully designed sleeve tattoo of watercolor phoenix.

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About the author

Jason Hamilton

Jason has been an avid fan of tattoos for over 13 years now. He is currently 35 years old, and he got his first tattoo at the age of 22. Since then, he has added over 20 tattoos to his collection. He is also into writing, which is why he decided to celebrate both of his passion and hobby through tats ‘n’ rings. Jason dreams of having his very own tattoo parlor soon. Jason would be very happy to answer any questions about tattoos that you may have! Leave a comment below and he’ll answer it for you right away!

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