The old school 3-D nautical star tattoos bears five points that have a line splitting them in half down each point. Each triangular half of the point is filled with alternating colors, generally black and white (early days of nautical star tattoos) or red and black were the basics. Now days you will see them in a variety of alternating colors giving them that 3-D illusion.
Nautical Star tattoos date back over a century ago with sailors looking for some sort of direction, guidance, protection, and safe return home. In the early days, sailors counted on the stars for navigation. Sailors relied on the stars to direct them correctly, putting all their faith in them that the stars would never fail them in their return trips home. This is what began the now common sailor tattoo, the nautical star. The star symbolized this and their path home. Soldiers are also fond of this tattoo for similar reasons.
Now days, the symbolic meaning has taken a bit of a spin but not far off what the sailors used this tattoo to symbolize. Today, when people get a nautical star tattoo it can come with various meanings to them, some in remembrance of a sailor or solider in their life, with others it can mean direction in their own life. Stars tattoos have never been fixed to any one religion or way of life. It appears though that guidance is the universal definition of nautical star tattoos, whether it is personal guidance or remembering where one was and where they are headed in life.
Ireland looks at the nautical star as a sign of good health, whereas the gay and lesbian community get nautical stars tattooed on their inside wrist to symbolize unity their relationship preference. Many punk rockers also sport the nautical star tattoos. Aaron Carter sports one on his is on his right arm. It is said that when the star is pointed up (say on the arm, the longest point would be facing towards the sky) it symbolizes that person has a brighter outlook on life situations.
Nautical star tattoos are a very popular design, once worn primarily by sailors and soldiers can now be found on many different individual in all walks of life. This universal design brings a constant reminder of what one seeks out of their life, their path, and goal destinations.