Tattooing was invented in different parts of the world and from that developed (and are still developing) different styles and techniques. Here are some of them:
“Black and gray” is a style that relies heavily on the shadows to create an illusion of three dimensions. To create transitions between light and dark and highlights it uses white ink. It originated from prisons in the 1970s and 1980s and became popular after that.
“Tribal tattoos” are inspired by tattoos of Native Americans and peoples of Micronesia and Polynesia. It has characteristic geometric figures and is usually done in pure black (although there are variants done in color and in “stonework style”.) It symbolizes passing from one part of life into next but it is a question how much of the original idea remained in modern variant.
“Biomechanical style” combines mechanical parts with organic in its realization. Its fans are fans of cyberpunk, steampunk, Sci-Fi and industrial music. Part of its presentation is ripped flesh into which are integrated parts of the machine or electronics.
“Stonework style” is made to look rustic by using black, grays and colors with fine lines which create texture of a crumbling stone.
“White ink tattoos” are tattoos that use only white ink and nothing but white ink. They tend to look like scars and can fade very quickly (in a matter of months). Because of that, professional artists try to mix the tattoo with pale blue, pale yellow or pale purple details and give the tattoo longer life.
Asian / Oriental / Yakuza are characteristic black and color styles that have recognizable motives of the East: fish, cherry blossoms, Buddha, lotus, dragons, war dogs, samurais and geishas. They often cover the whole body and tell a story in pictures.
Traditional / Old School is a style that represents motifs of the early works like eagles, pin-up girls, ships and anchors.
New School is a style that appeared in 1980s with its mix of different styles, bold and bright colors, wider color palette that traditional style and better gradients.
Realistic style does designs that are usually portraits or landscapes and tries to imitate photography.
Celtic style designs have intricate knots out of which can be created simple shapes or very complex ones.
Tattoo machine is a tool of Western technique. It has a needle that moves up and down the tube that holds the ink. The whole machine is controlled by a pedal. Machine used for coloring and shading have more needles than one.
Bamboo handles are used in Japanese technique. These handles have many needles on their ends and artist stretches the skin with one hand while piercing the skin with the handle. A master artist can pierce the skin 5 times in one second.
Rake and striking stick is a tool of Samoan Technique. Rake works as needles and is dipped in ink. After that it is placed against the skin and stricken with a stick. Few assistants keep the skin tight while the artist moves the rake creating a pattern.
Metal tube is used in ancient Thai technique which is similar to the Western technique in that that a metal tube has a sliding pointed rod inside while the tube holds the ink. Combination is held with one hand while the other is used for tightening the skin.