symbols and ideas for turtle tattoo in maori style for guys

How to draw a tribal Polynesian turtle tattoo

Turtles are not that hard to draw, but trying to stylize it into a flowing Polynesian design is a bit more tricky ūüôā
In the tattoo community, the turtle is widely used as it has a lot of meaning and symbolism, ranging from “immortality, fertility, stability, strength and security.
For the people who cannot wait… here’s the high quality design and linedrawing on my website:¬†tribal turtle tattoo
Lets get started! First I started drawing a basic outline of the turtle and tried to incorporate some Maori / Polynesian koru shapes like it is surrounded by water:


Then I started on the tribal patterns inside the turtle body, with some rows of spearheads and other repetitive shapes and elements

Tracing the outlines

Once the pencil drawing was completed, I used 3 different markers to trace the outlines of the tattoodesign. First a thick Edding Marker with a 3mm tip, then a Copic Multiliner 1mm, and finally a Pigma Micron 04 for the finer details in the design.

turtle tattoo sketch design with pencil and marker turtle tattoo design ideas with black ink markers and maori patterns


Shading the design with grey Copic Markers

When all the black lines and shapes were traced, I got to the favorite part of designing tribal tattoos, shading and layering with my set of Classic Copic Markers in 9 different greytones.

how to draw a tribal maori turtle tattoo sketch ideas shading tattoo design with grey Copic markers

I use the N5 marker to draw the thick shading and the other tones to add more depth.
Below you see a photo of the first stages of the shading proces:

High quality tattoo design

Once the shading was done, the final high quality design looks like this. The turtle has a nice row of spearheads flowing from the body into the full tattoo.

high quality turtle drawing with koru water shapes

Digital tattoo mockups on various bodyparts

When I complete the design, I make a set of digital mockups for my customers, so you can see how the tattoo looks on different bodyparts. It’s a rough preview, so it’s not 100% perfect, but it gives you an idea.
Here are 5 different examples:

forearm with tribal polynesian turtles patterns in Maori ideas halfsleeve shoulder tattoo with polynesian turtle koru design ideas

And finally I decided to create a nice Youtube video of the steps from start to finished tattoo design:

Order your high quality tattoo design

You can order the high quality drawing for your own tattoo. Its available on my website portfolio, order this POLYNESIAN TURTLE TATTOO DESIGN  and receive two digital files.
The first one is the full-size drawing, the other is a line drawing, so your tattoo artist can apply the design on your body.
If you have any questions on how to draw a Polynesian turtle design, feel free to comment!
Kind regards, Mark Storm

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Hi, I'm Mark Storm

Hi, I'm Mark Storm

I'm a graphic tattoo designer, creating and selling Polynesian tribal tattoo patterns. All drawings are available in high resolution and come with a linedrawing for your tattoo artist.