Lion Tattoo Designs & Their Meaning

The undisputed king of the animal kingdom – the lion is a status symbol of strength and power.

Tattoos based around the lion and lioness have been around for centuries, but still continue to be an extremely popular tattoo subject.

Other attributes of the lion that can carry over to a visual representation such as a tattoo extremely well are glory, courage, vitality, family, victory, beauty, masculinity and loyalty.

Within this huge list, you will see a selection of some of the most fearsome and beautiful lion tattoos ever created.

Lion Tattoo Subjects, Meanings and Ideas

Lions are a great tattoo subject for both men and women, and there are a large variety of meaningful lion themes that can be easily portrayed within tattoos.

Some of the more popular subjects include:

Greek Mythology – The Nemean Lion was a great vicious beast that could not be killed by mortal weapons as its golden fur could prevent harm from attack.

The lion was eventually killed by Heracles.

Christianity – God is described with a number of features associated with lions. He is strong, fearless in protecting his own, stealthy in coming upon his prey, and destructive.

Lions & Flowers – This is a popular choice of tattoo, even though the two subjects may seem contradictory.

Powerful lions and fragile flowers together symbolize the perfect balance between almighty strength and delicacy.

It can also be seen as a display of love, elegance and beauty, which both subjects consist of.

Chinese & Japanese Mythology – Chinese and Japanese cultures see lions as symbols of protection, strength, power and luck, along with honor, justice and valor – especially within the Japanese Samurai culture.

The Lioness – Lioness tattoos are favored by women as they represent femininity along with strength and ambition – therefor women choose these tattoos to express their strong and independent character.

Lion & Dragons – A favorite amongst men. Little is known as to the origin of this quite popular subject, although it’s guessed that the main attraction to this combination is the brute, raw power of both these creatures combined.

Not to mention, you can create some quite stunning artwork by combining the two beasts.

Roaring Lions – Tattoos of lion’s mid-roar are extremely popular, and aim to portray power, control, leadership, fear and respect.

Lion Paws – while not having any specific meaning, these tattoos are extremely popular and are often used to portray the idea of moving forward and progressing in life.

Paws can also be drawn in many different creative ways which adds to their popularity.

A Pack of Lions – Very popular amongst the dedicated family members amongst us.

Lions are considered as family-oriented animals and live and work (hunt) in packs – therefor a tattoo portraying a family/pack of lions symbolizes unity, loyalty, beauty and togetherness in the face of adversity.

Lion & Crowns – Popularized by the fact that lions have been unanimously named as kings of the jungle for many hundreds (and possibly thousands) of years. The crown symbolizes power, leadership and strength.

Lions in Astrology (Leo) – Hugely popular amongst people born under the zodiac/star sign of ‘Leo’.

People born under this sign are said to be strong leaders, extravagant and intelligent – and lion tattoos show off these traits perfectly.

The Best Lion Tattoos

Head-shots are by far the most popular tattoo subject when it comes to lions. So many various types of facial expressions and emotions can be captured by a good artist.

Not only this, but so much color and individuality can be put into the surrounding mane and fur, and I can assure you that you will never see two identical lion tattoos.

Head-shots can be small enough to fit on the knuckle of a finger, or big enough to fill the entirety of a grown man’s back, making them extremely versatile amongst all tattoo lovers, big or small.

Lion with crown tattoos are currently a very popular choice.

Not all lion tattoos need to have an element of realism added to them. You can find many amazing cartoon styled lion themes that can really stand out and attract lots of attention, especially from curious kids who love the cartoony ink.

Lions can look brilliant within a tattoo when incorporated with other animals within a larger piece, such as a sleeve.

Not all lions have to look angry and masculine!

Tattoos don’t have to be big and bold to make a statement. This finger tattoo is tiny, but beautifully detailed. Tiny tattoos can be real eye-catchers if done well.

The beauty of lions is that they can include so many color combinations but still came across as extremely realistic and lifelike. Ink palettes can range from fiery oranges and reds to subtle earthly browns.

Of course, lion tattoo backdrops and background colors can be as subtle or in your face as you would like​ – the only limit is yours and you artist’s imaginations.

Above is an absolutely magnificent lion back-piece currently in progress. Once done this is going to look truly stunning

It’s not just the lions themselves that can be included within your tattoos. Depending on your preference, you could have a whole lion scene tattooed onto yourself if that’s what you wanted. If you have a good artist, these scenes can really pay off, such as the one above.

Colorful, piercing eyes can really make a tattoo pop out, especially when done by a good artist with lots of experience with drawing eyes – they are extremely difficult to get right, and a poor set of eyes on a tattoo can really ruin it.

Geometric dotwork tattoos are extremely popular at the moment, and looking at the above image you can see why. This geo-lion looks extraordinarily beautiful, and tattoos done in this way will most-certainly be one of a kind. You will need a good artist to ensure it’s pulled off as perfectly as the one above though.

Watercolor tattoos are another style that is currently very popular. A good artist can really make a tattoo stand out by implementing this style, and almost any subject can inked in this way. Be careful though, watercolor-styled tattoos have been known to fade much more quickly than standard-practice tattoos.

If you’re looking for his-and-hers tattoo ideas then there aren’t many better subjects than lions and their lionesses. They rule the jungle world and would be a perfect symbolisation of the strong and powerful bond you have with a loved one should you get them tattooed on yourselves.

An imaginative design that has been very well done. Tattoos in this style have been increasingly popular in recent years.

More impressive and detailed tiny lion finger tattoos.

A lion in an uncommon and alternative color.

An impressive dotwork lion portrait.

Superb realistic lion with a slight 3D effect made possible by using the natural bumps and grooves of the arm to make certain areas ‘pop out’.

A geometric lion tattoo done on the thigh.

Large back-pieces aren’t just for guys. The girl above really pulls of this huge lion piece.

A lion/cub combo design can be made into a beautiful tattoo, especially if you’d like it to symbolize a bond with you child/guardian.

A lions head done in an oldschool American traditional style with a touch of neo traditional.

A beautifully shaded full sleeve with great contrasts.

Tattoos don’t have to be made up of just one style, as this piece of ink shows.

An imaginative and abstract throw on the classic lion portrait tattoo.

Color splatter tattoos have become very popular recently.

Hand tattoos can be great attention-getters, and this realistic lion tattoo has been brilliantly done.

A multicolor paint splatter style tattoo

A colorful lion thigh tattoo

The perfect example of a great neo traditional styled tattoo.

Awesome lion tattoo on thigh

As with the above few images, don’t worry about adding too many colors to your tattoo – done correctly this can really make your ink stand out beautifully.

Mixing animals with human objects has become a popular tattooing feature for a few years now, and some examples such as the one above are quite impressive.

Another fine example of a neo traditional lion tattoo.