I have a full back tattoo and did all of the thick outlining (4 hours worth) in one sitting. It was the worst pain I have ever felt in my life and I have a lot of tattoos but none this large (full back) where they needed to do thick, heavy, loooong lines. Seriously, many of the lines were over 8" long, up my spine, and the tattooist did them each in one long stroke... THAT is the worst part. The shading, blending, and working off the main lines doesn t hurt as bad. Would I have gotten the back tattoo again after what I experienced? Probably, because it has very significant meaning to me but I would definitely be second guessing myself.
Seriously, not to scare anyone but the bigger the tattoo, the thicker the lines, the more painful the outline; especially over the spine, upper arms near the armpits, and around the flanks/love handles area. If you re going to get a full back (or front tattoo, which I believe is even worse), you have to be committed... not just to the 4 hours of thick outlining, but to the next 15 hours of shading, blending, and refining. Full back is about 20 hours if the artist is meticulous and cares about what they re tattooing. My guy charges me $100/hr (charges others $150/hr) so it s an expensive endeavor but in the end, it ll pay off.