crow tattoo
One tattoo completed and one in the early stages

Black and Grey tattoos heavily draw on shading and the style is often used to create a 3-D effect without using colour. Highlights can be added using white ink, which smooths out sharp transitions between the different shades.

Black and Grey Background

The style known as black and grey is also known as "jailhouse" or "joint style,” having originated in prisons where inmates had limited access to materials, resorting to using guitar strings for needles and used cigarette ashes or pen ink to produce tattoos.

Tattoo studios popularised the style in the late 70s and early 80s, renaming it black and grey.

Black and Grey Portrait Tattoo
Photo-realistic portraits are commonly done in black and grey as they tend to resist deterioration better than colour portraits.
Black and Grey Tattoo Leg
Subtle kinds of shading in black-and-grey require a high level of skill and illustrate the proficiency of the tattoo artist behind it.
Grey Wash Effect
To achieve a grey wash effect, black ink is diluted in order to lighten up on the tint created on your skin.
Black and Grey Tattoo Sleeve
Shading is important for these types of tattoos as they can fade over time without strong black tones, which provide contrast and allows the tattoo to stand out.