Scroll Tattoos

Combine your scroll with a dragon.

What do you imagine when you think about scroll tattoos? The answer to this question is more varied than you might imagine.

About Scroll Tattoos

Although not the most requested tattoos in parlors across the country, scroll tattoos do have their place in body art. These designs are typically employed when you have more to say than can be expressed by artwork alone.

One example of a modern scroll-style tattoo is the one Angelina Jolie wears on her back. Although not enclosed in the usual scroll frame work, the design contains a Tibetan blessing that holds great personal meaning for the actress.

However, there's more than one way to represent a scroll. Let's take a look at a variety of ways to incorporate scrolls into your body art.

Different Kinds of Tattoo Scrolls


Rolled Scrolls

Ideas for scrolls:

  • Parchment designs: These are those traditional style paper rolls that most often come to mind when you hear the word "scroll". You can go for a fresh, contemporary design, or give it an aged look with a frayed and shaded design.
  • Side scroll embellishments: Instead of using an actual rolled page design, you can create a different kind of scroll tattoo by running a scrolled margin down one or both sides of a lettered tattoo.

Ideas for filling them:

  • Names and birth dates of your children
  • Wedding date and you and your spouse's names
  • A few lines of your favorite verse
  • 12 steps for various organizations
  • Bible quotes
  • Prayers/blessings:
    • Serenity prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change...
    • Gayatri mantra: A prayer asking for the blessing of enlightenment for all beings
    • Irish blessing; May the road rise up to meet you...
    • Lord's prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven...

Scroll Designs

The word "scroll" also applies to designs filled with wandering curlicues. Scrolls can be incorporated into vine work, free form and even architectural designs, like the ones found in Victorian era decor.Scroll work can be used for:

Scroll Lettering

Scroll lettering is another way to work the scroll element into a tattoo. The style is similar to calligraphy, and is most effective when it's used as the first letter in a name or sentence. It can be a little over-the-top when used for every letter, but Mexican gang tattoos frequently use large, bold calligraphy when creating gang name tats.


A diploma may not be the first image that jumps to your mind when you consider scroll tattoos, however, diplomas are typically symbolized by a rolled scroll tied with ribbon.

If you're particularly proud of your accomplishment, you can run with this idea by adding your Alma Mater's name to the scroll, or recreating a miniature diploma with your name and degree on it.

Applying the Scroll Treatment to Other Popular Designs


By now, you may be quite familiar with Celtic knot work tattoos. This style involves creating items like armbands, crosses, hearts and more by filling basic outlines with a series of never-ending knots.Although scrolls don't have to be never-ending, you can use them just like the Celtic knots to create or fill in a basic design - taking it from ordinary to extraordinary.

Let your imagination run free for a moment, and consider how the following designs might look when created with curlicue scrolls or enhanced by them.

Bet you never realized there was so much you can do with scrolls, did you? Hopefully these ideas will inspire you with ways to freshen up a tired tat design, or create something totally new. As a matter of fact, why not try doodling scrolls on a blank piece of paper, and see what you wind up with? You never know where a great design is going to come from.

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Scroll Tattoos