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What does 3D mean, exactly?

Updated: Jun 25, 2020

What IS a 3D Nipple, exactly?

March 3, 2015

3D is the abbreviated version of 3-dimensional, meaning an object that has height, depth and width.  A box, book, car or house is a bonafide 3D object.

1D, or 1 dimensional, would be length, like a straight line on paper.

2 dimensional would refer to length and width, like a drawing of a square. 

3D, would include the extra dimension of height, like an actual box.

In the case of tattooing or drawing, the term 3D refers to an optical manipulation giving a flat surface the illusion of depth.  The term '3D nipple' is really thrown about and misused these days, so let's take a moment to clarify! Too many tattooists are simply applying a circle within a circle and calling it 3D, but we believe you are worth more ;)

'3D nipple' - In the case of a talented and skilled artist, this refers to our ability to create the optical illusion of something with depth where there is none.  In simple terms, we know exactly how to manipulate shadows and highlights to acheive this effect.  This is no easy feat.

Especially where the tissue has been damaged, scarred and irradiated!  These are some very big cards stacked against us, and it takes a VERY advanced practitioner to be able to execute this well.


  • Artistic Ability - If a practitioner is unable to execute a realistic look on paper, then they simply do not understand the visual language required to create depth and texture. "IF YOU CAN'T DRAW IT, YOU CAN'T TATTOO IT"

  • Experience and Skill - Since it takes about 5 years to fully understand how to read and feel the skin, drawing ability does not mean that the practitioner is able to achieve good technical application into the skin. Drawing ability is a good start, but not enough.

  • Scar Tissue - The body itself poses the greatest challenge to even the most skilled tattoo artists. Every scar is different and varies on weight, skin tone, and age - since each body is so unique, a tattooer must master an advanced skillset - able to adapt to each persons scar and understand what is going on below the surface of the skin.

Be careful who you hear throwing around the term "3D nipples" like its an easy thing to accomplish!!   Ask to see drawings and don't accept anything that isn't absolutely stunning.  Or just ask them to clarify the term, now that YOU know what it means.

These drawings, used as nippleback styles, are expertly designed by A.R.T.ists. It clearly shows how simple light, shading, and texture artistic application can create the illusion of depth and realism. That IS the most important part here!

You've been through so much, you really do deserve the best quality tattooing.  I've seen so many women unhappy with their tattoos and accepting that as their fate.  It saddens me immensely to see women feel poorly about their body.  Too many practitioners are offering this as a 'service' without solidifying their basics first, and causing harm to their trusting clients. A.R.T. was created to make that too-common practice obselete!

SO! Be prepared to wait, spend, and possibly travel.  In the long run it's absolutely worth it, and what a great reason for a mini trip!  "I'm going to get my new nipples!" You will come back renewed and ready for the next glorious chapter of your life!

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