Introduction to Nailart

Embarking on nailart can seem pretty daunting. Perhaps you think it’s something only professionals can do, or you worry that you need loads of equipment to make it work, or that it takes hours on end. Well, I’ve come up with a few helpful hints to make it easier than you imagined and to help you avoid the pitfalls that I made.

Sparkly Glitter Placement Nails

1. Know your canvas

What I found most helpful when I was starting out with nailart was the fact that I’d had a fair amount of practice at painting my nails normally. I hadn’t realised how much of a help this was until recently. But I can’t emphasise enough how useful it is if you’re able to get a good base down, otherwise it’s very easy to make simple mistakes like failing to get colour on all of your nail and you end up leaving a wide gap on the far side of your nail that you can’t see as easily. The result is very unbalanced and means you have a much smaller canvas to which you can add your intricate details. If you are very new to painting your nails I would recommend getting practice at this first before embarking on any adventurous designs. See 4 Tips to Make your Manicure Look Professional and How to Make a Manicure Last a Week for some help on mastering a manicure. Or watch this to see how it’s done.

2. Plan your design

There are so many sources of inspiration for nailart. I like to spend a week planning my next venture, earnestly scouring Instagram and Pinterest for ideas. I take screen shots of any that I really like so that when I sit down to paint my nails I just need to scan through and find my favourite one. I then work out what colours I want to use and plan what order each of the details need to be applied.

3. Prepare your materials

Get all your varnishes and equipment lined up and within easy reach so you don’t risk smudging your nailart as you get up to fetch some other varnish you need half way through.


4. Practice your pattern

I advise getting a scrap piece of paper and practicing your design, firstly to work out if you’re able to do it, secondly to see if the colour combination looks good and lastly, if you’re using a nailart pen, to judge how fast the varnish comes out of it.

5. Don’t be afraid to fail

The most important thing I’ve learnt is that nailart is supposed to be fun and if I get half way through a design and find it’s not working – either because my technique isn’t good enough for the chosen design or because I decide I don’t like it – I grab the nail varnish remover and start again. It’s good to have a goal that you can work towards and I find it so encouraging to track my improvements and progress with each tillynailart manicure.


This is one of my favourite designs to date. It is also one of the simplest ones to do.


All you need is a base coat, a top coat and three different colours to try it. Using the colours above, having prepped your nails with base coat, apply white nail varnish to each of your nails, then paint two horizontal stripes in black starting in the middle of your nail – don’t worry too much if you go over the half way point. Then paint a vertical pink stripe through the middle of your nail and, still using pink, paint over any white remaining between the pink stripe and the edge of your nail. Seal with a top coat and let it dry.

If you’re just beginning on your nailart adventure then give this one a go and let me know how you get on.


7 thoughts on “Introduction to Nailart

  1. Pingback: 7 Top Tips for Before and After Nailart | tillynailart

  2. Hey Tilly, I have always wanted the weather symbols as nail art. So yesterday I went to ‘Wha nails’ in Topshop, Oxford Circus. Not only were their manicures really expensive but they didn’t do the design I wanted. I’m going on holiday on Monday -any advice on how I can excute this design myself before I go? I know it’s ambishious for a newbie but I am SO inspired by your blog!

    Thank you x

  3. Pingback: 21 Benefits of Nailart | tillynailart

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