Ankle Tattoos You'll Love No Matter What Your Ink Style Is

The ankle is one of the most popular places to get a tattoo, especially among first-timers, according to Inked. In a lot of ways, the ankle makes the perfect canvas for a tattoo, whether it's your first or your fifteenth. We love the playful and almost contradictory nature of ankle tattoos. They feel subtle, but flirty, and they can be discreet, but noticeable, at the same time; it all depends on what you're wearing and if you're choosing to show them off. They're easy to cover up if you need to, but also possible to flaunt when you want to. As a bonus, your ankle is a spot that doesn't change as drastically as some other parts of your body. Even with aging and weight fluctuations, ankle tattoos hold up pretty nicely.

You're working with a small area, so your ankle isn't the spot for big designs. Small ankle tattoos are common, but it doesn't mean bold and eye-catching designs are out of the question. From itty-bitty delicate tattoos to larger, wrap-around designs, we've rounded up some of the best ankle tattoo ideas to inspire your next ink session.

Black and gray

When done right, black and gray tattoos can have a lot of dimension, all without using color. These tattoos often shoot for realism. Artists use watered-down black inks (to create varying shades of black and gray), gray washes, gray ink, and white ink to create realistic images that look almost like black-and-white photos. Small black and gray tattoos have a certain level of subtlety, especially when placed on the ankle, but they look beautiful close-up.

Bold colors

On the complete other side of the color spectrum, you can take your ankle tattoo up a notch with extra bold colors. Bright and bold colors really draw the eye and make an ankle tattoo more noticeable, even from afar. We love the vibrancy of this tiger tattoo; it almost seems to pop out at you since the colors are so vivid.


Minimalist tattoos are very pared down, reducing images to only their simplest lines. They can be small or large, though you'll probably want to go small for an ankle. These tattoos are a good choice for those who want a less noticeable tattoo. While they can use color, many minimalist tattoos just use black ink, sticking to their pared-down nature. Fine-line minimalist tattoos use very thin lines to create a more delicate look.


A step above minimalist, but not as bold or detailed as some other tattoo styles, there's a lot of flexibility when it comes to linework tattoos. We love how this tattoo uses only black ink to create a cartoonish image with realistic-looking elements. Linework tattoos can have a whole lot of character depending on the image and the artist, so do your research to make sure the tattoo is exactly your style.


We think lettering tattoos will never go out of style — they can just hold so much meaning. There's not much real estate on an ankle, so choose a word or a short phrase. When designing a lettering tattoo, one of the most important aspects to consider is the font. The font might just have the biggest impact on the overall look of your tattoo, so make sure you work with your tattoo artist to create one you really love!


There's a mesmerizing quality to watercolor tattoos. These tattoos use an array of colors to create an image that looks like watercolor paint. They're vibrant, colorful, and bold, using blending and shading techniques to achieve a realistic look that looks fluid and artistic — just like a real watercolor painting. This is a tattoo technique that takes practice, so you'll want to find a trained tattoo artist to create your design.


Hand-poked or stick-and-poke tattoos are created by hand rather than using a tattoo gun. Tattoo artists use a needle, and, by hand, dip it into the ink and then poke the pigment into the skin. This technique creates lines dot by dot, which gives them their distinctive hand-done look that many love. However, with a careful hand, some hand-poked tattoos look just like their machine-made counterparts. It really depends on the tattoo artist and their style, so research your artist to find a look you prefer.

American traditional

If you want your tattoo to stand the test of time, go for an American traditional style. This tattoo style is steeped in history, and was popularized throughout and after World War II, in part by Norman Collins or "Sailor Jerry." Sailor Jerry created some of the most popular American traditional tattoo iconographies, like pin-up girls, ships, roses, eagles, swallows, and anchors. This style usually has bold lines and saturated colors, making it stand out really nicely on an ankle.

Save the date

Tattoos are a lovely way to commemorate an important date, and aesthetically, numerical tattoos look really nice as well. Just like with lettering, it's important to consider the font. Handwritten numbers feel more delicate and dainty. Or you can go for a more traditional font for a bolder look.

Something fun

The ankle is a great place to put a wacky design since it's pretty easily hidden with pants or a high pair of socks. Since it's a less obvious spot, it's a good one to commit to your fun and goofy tattoo ideas. This cartoon go-karting mouse is the perfect example of an amusing tattoo, and we love its vibrant colors.


There's a different kind of peace that comes from being in nature. If you want to carry a reminder of that feeling everywhere you go, a nature-inspired tattoo is one way to do so. Leaves and flowers are lovely to draw inspiration from because of their variety of shapes and colors. They really are the perfect image for a gorgeous tattoo.


It's your own two feet that takes you through most of your travels, why not commemorate that with a travel-inspired ankle tattoo? While tattoos of planes, trains, and automobiles are an obvious choice, another way to celebrate your travels is with a landscape tattoo of a favorite place you've visited, like this pretty mountainscape.


Take advantage of all sides of your ankle, not just one. A wrap-around tattoo will be visible from all angles, so it's more eye-catching than a small tattoo that is only on one side. We love this floral-inspired option that looks like a beautiful rose-covered vine wrapping around your ankle.


Another wraparound ankle tattoo idea is to create an anklet. It will be your own piece of permanent jewelry! A fine-line tattoo is a good choice to execute this idea. The thin lines are dainty enough to mimic real jewelry. Add layered lines to get this tattooed anklet look.


Butterfly tattoos are trending right now, and we don't think they'll be going away anytime soon. There's something feminine and summery about a butterfly tattoo. These tattoos look good in any color, and you can opt for bold or fine-line butterflies. Play with gradient colors to add more interest to this simpler design.


Planet-inspired tattoos can feel whimsical or mystical, depending on the style. Common planets and stars that people draw inspiration from include the sun, the moon and its different phases, Saturn with its distinctive rings, and the stars (drawn with a bit of sparkle detailing, of course). Planet tattoos look lovely in this simple line work style.

A pretty flower

A flower tattoo is a popular choice since flowers themselves are just so darn pretty. It's hard not to look at them for artistic inspiration! They come in so many colors, shapes, and sizes, and flower tattoos can range just as much as well, from fine-line and photo-realistic, to watercolor design. Not sure which flower to pick? Consider tattooing your birth flower.

Or a whole bouquet

Why stop at just one flower? If you want a larger tattoo (or if you just really love flowers), tattoo a whole bouquet. Once again, it's a great way to incorporate lots of floral designs or various colors into a tattoo. But there's a lot of creativity that can go into a bouquet tattoo as well, including using thicker lines or opting for a simpler black-and-white design.

Go photo-realistic

As the name suggests, the realism tattoo style tries to make an image look as close to real life as possible. Tattoo artists use a wide range of colors and shading to make the tattoo look just like a photo. Landscapes and nature are popular subject choices for realism tattoos, or you can commemorate a beloved family member or even a pet. You'll want to research your tattoo artist before getting this tattoo type since it takes a high level of detail and technique to get it right.

Detailed panel

We love the intricate details, colors, and delineation in this tattoo. It's truly a piece of art in a small, very detailed panel. Confining the tattoo to a detailed square or rectangle makes it feel like a painting on your body. Tattoo artists can use vivid colors and lots of shading and blending to make the tattoo feel even more like a painting.

Play with placement

When most people think about an ankle tattoo, they think of one on the outside of the ankle. But tattoos look lovely in other areas as well, like the front, back, or inside. Tattoos on the front of the ankle are more obvious, while those on the inside are more hidden. And there's something coy about a tattoo on the back of an ankle since people will only notice it when you're walking away.

Trace the ankle

There's something satisfying about tattoos that follow our anatomy; they just flow. One way to use this idea on the ankle is to trace around your ankle joint. This floral tattoo is a lovely example. Since floral vines can have natural curves and twists, the image doesn't feel out of place.

Make it a pair

There's something satisfying about symmetry. Place a tattoo on each ankle to get this look. Placing the tattoo on the front or back of the ankle makes the symmetry even more obvious. Pay attention to the tattoo design as well; it's easy to make a perfect match with geometric shapes and dots.

Make it matching

Or make it a pair with someone else! The ankle is a good spot for matching tattoos with a special family member or a close friend. It's a symbol of your love that isn't too in your face. Rather, it is a quiet reminder of your enduring relationship.

Go beyond the ankle

If you want a bit more space to work with, extend the tattoo beyond your ankle, up your calf, or down onto your foot. This enables larger designs that are noticeable from further away. This floral design is a nice choice. Since each flower is connected, it looks cohesive despite covering a larger area.