An armor design is a physical representation of a metaphorical armor that is worn by the individual, often to symbolize a hardening against trauma or tragedy experienced in the past. The appearance of armor is a sign of a warrior and a statement of strength, courage, and heroism. There are many different types of armor that work well in tattoo design, hailing from many different cultures. The type of armor can also suggest the heritage or family history of the individual, or simply an affiliation with that culture.

Armor designs are usually larger pieces that stretch across the biceps and/or chest, although any area of the body is appropriate. Depending on the personal significance of the armor, the placement may represent the experience that necessitates protection against force or violence. Gladiator-style armor is a symbol of the Roman warriors, often slaves who fought their way up through the ranks. Thick leather, or metal, rectangular plating is layered from the collar and over the shoulder, often rendered in greyscale or with hints of bronze tones. Samurai-style armor can appear much the same, though often covers a larger area, reaching further down the arm when designed as a sleeve tattoo. The Japanese samurai armor is more closely plated and therefore appears more intricate than the Roman-style. Hints of blue and grey are used to create the appearance of shining steel.

Regardless of what specific style of armor is chosen, tightly woven chainmail often accompanies the design, placed in the background or underneath the plating. The addition of chainmail creates a more detailed and intricate piece. Countless symbols can be added to the armor as well depending on the desired culture it is derived from, designed to appear stamped into the metal.

Blood or wounds rendered in dark or bright red tones symbolize battle and can be added to the piece. Battered or worn armor works well with the appearance of wounds. Alternatively, the armor can be designed to appear showing underneath torn or ripped skin, revealing the warrior within.