Sword tattoos are generally seen as both a symbol of danger and valor. Many men and women in the military also use sword tattoos as emblems of honor, justice and talismans of protection. However, a sword by itself is rarely seen; there are often many other symbols that tell a larger story.
Two of the most frequently seen symbols in sword tattoos are flames and wings. A sword engulfed in flames has a religious significance and is said to be an image of purification. Wings, on the other hand, are said to signify a certain ‘lifting up and away’ from danger, as swords are generally used as protection. Many people also like to surround their swords in softer images, like having a vine with flowers growing around the blade, or one or two swords piercing through a heart.
Many sword tattoos are part of a larger scene. For instance, a stylized depiction of two samurais locked in battle; a medieval knight, sword raised, charging ahead on his steed; or a courtly gentleman brandishing his blade. Some people also like to show the contrast of the fearsome weapon with the sensuality of a curvaceous female figure; she may be done in a variety of genres, such as a pirate, a warrior or simply placed in a delicate 1940′s garb.
Although infrequently seen, sword tattoos are occasionally done by themselves. This style can be shown placed gingerly upon the skin, or piercing through it. However you choose to place it, there are an endless amount of designs that you can use to really amplify the look. Many people like to use a realistic depiction; this style can have a wooden, or even a braid work leather hilt; a large, heavy pommel, and a long, sharp blade. You can also heavily embellish your sword by adding gems, a family crest to the pommel, a scroll work pattern to the blade, and maybe even metal wings or bones to the guard. For an interesting, but unrealistic appearance, many people like to use a design akin to tribal art. These pieces are usually done in black and have sharp, drastic lines. It is also fairly common to see a snake or dragon elongated and morphed into the image of a sword, or crosses and skulls worked into the hilt and pommel.
Sword tattoos can be done in a large picture or by themselves; but whichever way you choose to depict them, they are sure to add a certain tough, brave and honorable feel to all of your artwork.