10 Tools for Nailart with Acrylic Paint

You may already have read ‘Why Use Acrylic Paints for Nailart?‘ which outlines why I prefer acrylic paint to nail varnish for painting my nails. But I thought I’d go into a bit more detail about what you might need in order to get started and where to buy your tools.

1. Paint palette

Screenshot 2014-12-19 15.56.51

The first thing I recommend is a palette to squeeze your paints onto. These paint palette sheets are great as you can easily dispose of them afterwards without a mess.

2. Paints

Screenshot 2014-12-19 16.06.03Screenshot 2014-12-19 16.08.06Screenshot 2014-12-19 16.11.22Screenshot 2014-12-19 16.12.27Screenshot 2014-12-19 16.13.22Screenshot 2014-12-19 16.14.45Screenshot 2014-12-19 16.16.35

The next thing you’re going to need are some paints.  I use Folk Art paints – mainly because they were the cheapest in the art shop!  When starting out, I advise getting a white, black, blue, red and yellow tube of paint as those will give you the basis to mix whatever colours you’re after.  I also bought a pink and a turquoise to brighten my palette a bit.

3. Brushes

Screenshot 2014-12-19 17.05.50

It’s a good idea to get 3 or 4 little brushes of varying thicknesses.  I find Royal and Langnickel to be a good brand.  You’ll want a very little one for doing tiny details and then possibly a long one for doing stripes, a wide, flat one for applying a whole base of colour and then a medium-sized one.

Screenshot 2014-12-19 17.09.46

I’ve also found it really helpful to have a slanted clean up brush for neatening up the edges of my designs.  MAC make up do the perfect one.

4. Dotting Tools

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I’ve mentioned these before in an equipment list but I can’t recommend these dotting tools enough – so great for getting perfect circles.

5. Base Coat

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There’s no escaping it, I still advise you use a base coat to protect your nails even for an acrylic paint design. I’m using a Kale base coat by Nails inc. which I got at a recent UK Nailartists Meet up.  It’s wonderful and feels really luxurious on your nails – like you’re doing them a favour with an enriching spa treatment.

 6. White Nail Varnish

Screenshot 2014-12-19 16.57.44

Regardless of the fact you’re doing acrylic painted nails, you’ll still need a white nail varnish to use as a base to allow for the fact that acrylic paint is rather transparent.  I use White on White by Revlon.

7. Top Coat

Screenshot 2014-12-19 16.56.26

More so than when you’re using nail varnish, you will most certainly need a top coat to protect your acrylic paint design as it won’t be resistant to water without a top coat. I’ve just started using a top coat by Nails inc. which dries in 45 seconds.  I mean what’s not to love?! It literally takes away the sticky feeling in less than a minute.  You’ll find that with acrylic paint, your top coat will dry faster than with nail varnish but you’ll probably need more than one layer of top coat.

 8. Jar of Water

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As acrylic paint is water based, you’ll need some water to clean your brushes. I use an old jam jar for water as it tends to get a bit dirty from all the paint.

9. Nail varnish remover

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I find it’s still helpful to have nail varnish remover for an extra cleanse of my brushes between colours.

10. Kitchen Towel

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You’ll want a few sheets of kitchen towel within easy reach to help clean your brushes and soak up any excess water from your brush.

That’s it!  Now you’re ready to try an acrylic paint nailart design.  Make sure you’ve got lots of light so you’re not straining your eyes with the detail. You might want to check out my gallery for some inspiration, or have a look through my tutorials to help you get started. Now go and enjoy the wonders of acrylic paint!


Velvet Nails – Yes or No?

Velvet nails have been around for a while but I’d delayed trying them until very recently.  I’d had so many doubts and questions, primarily, would I be able to get them wet?  Here’s what I discovered.

Velvet Nails

How Do Velvet Nails Work?

Velvet nails are achieved by applying a special powder to wet nails which gives a furry texture. I used a brand called Nail Rock and along with the burgundy velvet powder came a bottle of nail varnish in a matching colour.

What You Will NeedIMG_9178.JPG

— Velvet powder
– Matching nail varnish
– Base coat
– Tweezers
– A piece of paper
– Old, clean make up brush
– Nail studs (optional)
– Top coat for studs (optional)


To begin with, I folded and unfolded the paper in half and used this as my workspace so when I was finished I could easily pour the excess powder back into the pot.

Next I painted my nails with a base coat and one coat of the nail varnish provided.  Then focusing on one nail at a time I applied a coat of the matching nail paint and then, with the polish still wet, using the tweezers, I picked up some of the powder and dropped it onto the nail.  I repeated this until there was a thick layer of the powder on my nail and then pressed it down relatively firmly using my finger.

After a few seconds I brushed the excess powder away using the make up brush and moved onto the next nail.

I then applied the nail studs using a drop of top coat as glue.


1. I found velvet nails to be really quick and easy.  Wonderfully there is no need for a top coat and they dried really fast.

2. I decided to add a nail stud and didn’t have any problem applying it on top of the velvet.  I just used a drop of top coat as an adhesive.

3. Quite surprisingly, velvet nails are very resilient.  I knocked them a number of times fearful that I would have ruined them but remarkably they remained in tact.

4. Velvet nails can withstand water, soap, moisturiser, shampoo and conditioner.  Thankfully I didn’t need to change my routine in order to accommodate them.  Velvet nails will look slightly darker when wet but will return to normal when dry.

5. A very small pot of the powder will last a long time.  After doing ten nails I still had almost a full pot remaining.

6. Mistakes are easily covered up.   If you happen to smudge or nick a nail, you can simply apply a tiny bit more of the varnish and some powder and press it down to blend it in.

7. The whole process was extremely fun and therapeutic and the finished effect got a lot of admiration too.

8. Removing velvet nails is not an issue.  The powder comes off with an ordinary nail varnish remover.



1. Although velvet nails can cope with water and soap, any tinted creams, foundations or powder will show up on your nails and can produce a balding effect on the velvet.

2. As a result of the bizarre texture, I was nervous of everything I did for fear that I would ruin them – brushing my teeth, tying my hair up, cooking, eating etc.  I found oil left a residue on the nails and it made me wonder how much dirt the velvet harboured as they don’t give a wipe clean surface. I wouldn’t even have attempted these if I’d had a baby’s nappy to change!

3. In fact, the odd texture actually put me off doing a few things – peeling an orange for example and eating food with my hands which might cause me to put my nails in my mouth.

3. Velvet nails easily attract fluff so I found I was constantly cleaning them which quickly became annoying.

4. When adding the nail studs I had to be careful not to apply too much top coat adhesive as it showed up as a darker section on the velvet.

5. The stray powder can get stuck in your cuticles and edges of your nails making your manicure look messy, and cleaning up the edges with a thin brush is slightly precarious as the nail varnish remover seeps into the velvet and can cause more of the velvet to be removed than was intended.

6. Velvet nails don’t last as long as a regular manicure.  I removed them after a couple of days as they had already started to bald. Opting for a darker colour makes the balding less noticeable however. (Here are some tips on how to make your manicure last a week.)


Velvet nails are minimum effort and high impact – great if you’re just running to a party or a night out because they don’t take long to dry.  Just make sure you apply your make up beforehand.

I hope you found this helpful.  Let me know if you decide to give them a go!

Work-Appropriate Nailart

Job hunting can be hard, stressful and demoralising. Not just because of the endless emotional roller coaster of interviews, the aimless trawl through websites and being herded like cattle through recruitment agencies, but perhaps most drastically because when you have no idea how long it is until your next interview, the only course of action is to ensure you’re constantly sporting a preened and perfect, professional-looking manicure.

And I don’t just mean nails that look like a professional did them – hopefully we can all master that by now.  I mean, nails that are suitable for the workplace.

Gosh it’s so tricky!  Of course, I want to be seen as a serious candidate for job opportunities. But I also want to let a little of my personality, and passion for nailart, show.  With that in mind, I thought I’d take you on a tour of my 4 tips for achieving sock-it-to-’em, knock-’em-dead, money-back-guaranteed (*ahem, maybe not right now!) office-appropriate manicures.

1. Embrace Textures and Fabric Patterns

Tweed and Border Nails

One way to ensure your nails are suitable for the workplace but will still impress on the design-front is to match them with the texture of your outfit.  Think glamorous thick tweeds by Chanel or you could try out some tartan like the Burberry design below.  Keep colours dark or neutral to maintain a slick appearance.

Of course it depends which industry you work in.  It may be that you can get away with much brighter prints, like this pink and black houndstooth design.  If the latest Spring/Summer 2015 line by Moschino, inspired by Barbie is anything to go by, perhaps this look is more acceptable than we would previously have imagined.

Burberry Nails Pink Houndstooth Nails

2. Adopt on-Trend Colour Combinations

Subtle Peacock Nails

No one can reprimand you for nailart in the office when your digits are this bang up-to-date.  Keep on top of this season’s colour palette with muted greys and flashes of berry tones.  Blend the two and you’ll have mastered a subtle concoction that will fit in just about anywhere.

If you can dare to bare a little more of your personality then some pastel shades or neon brights on a black backdrop will surely gain the respect of both your peers and your superiors and who can resist a chic twist on a leopard print design?  Just what’s needed to brighten up the office – no one can argue with that!

Spiral dotted nails Pink leopard nails

3. Utilise the Negative Space

Negative Space Nails

Nothing breathes fresh life into a mono-coloured mani like a bit of negative space. It’s also a great way to make black nails wearable but not too aggressive.  Try this punchy matte black design with a semicircle base that’s just eye-catching enough to get you noticed.

Or for a simpler take on the design, this ruffian manicure adds a sheen of gold for the perfect assertive yet understated design.  For pure demure however, the sophisticated subtleties of lace are too hard to resist.

Demilune Ruffian Nails Lace Nails 2

4. Opt for Dark Colours and Metallics

Dry Marble Nails

Shimmer into the office oozing glamour with this petrol-coloured dry marble design that’s easier than it looks to achieve and utterly effortless to carry off in the workplace.

Or for added sheen, this quatrefoil design commands instant awe and appreciation. And for a faint glimmer of sparkle, try and sneak a triple glitter gradient through the office doors.  You certainly won’t regret it when you catch a glimpse of it as you’re typing away.

Quatre foil nails Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

There you have my suggestions for personality-filled nailart that won’t undermine your authority at work. Now let’s see if one of these designs will bag me a job…!

Why Use Acrylic Paints for Nailart?

acrylic paint folk artUp until three months ago I had never used acrylic paints for nailart.  I didn’t even know that was an option. But when a fellow nailartist recommended I give them a go I went to the local art shop and bought a few tubes of acrylic paint by folkArt – a red, blue, yellow, black and white – and went home to try them out.

I couldn’t really see why they would make any difference, I was getting on just fine with nail varnish and nailart pens after all, but I’m always keen to try new techniques, and this was one I’m certainly glad I did.

What I discovered totally transformed my experience of nailart.

1. Waste not, want not

Using nail varnish, I was often reluctant to try an intricate design as I knew how much polish I would waste – pouring out small amounts of varnish onto a palette and then using a tiny brush or dotting tool to transfer the correct amount of paint to my nail.  I knew I needed to work fast as the polish would dry so fast on the palette, turning thick and gloopy and would therefore need frequent top ups.

Compare this scenario to using acrylic paint – you squeeze some out onto a palette and it stays the perfect consistency for over an hour, allowing you to work at your own pace.  If it does start to dry up, just add a small amount of water to thin it out.

2. See your true colours

With acrylic paints you can mix the exact colour you want with ease and accuracy – beautiful pastel shades by adding white, murky colours by adding the opposite hue – the possibilities are endless.

colour wheel

3. The best mistake you’ve ever made

Have you ever done a design and had to start all over again after making a mistake – painstakingly reapplying your base coat and two coats of your background colour?  Well if you can make the properties of varnish and acrylics work for you, you won’t have to again.  Paint your base coat and background colour with nail varnish and do your detailed design in acrylics, and any errors with the acrylic paint can be wiped off with water and won’t upset the varnish.

4. Pure concentrate

When doing a gradient or ombre with nail varnish, you often need to apply three of four layers to see the richness of the colours.  However, with acrylic paint, just dabbing one layer of colour gives you a strong, vibrant and faster finish.

Rainbow Gradient Nails

5. No messing around

Every girl knows how frustrating it can be waiting for nails to dry.  Well, with acrylic paint, though it dries slowly on a palette, it dries almost immediately on your nails!  In addition to the obvious benefit of being out the door soon after painting, another plus is that if you make a mistake you can paint straight over it and it doesn’t form a thicker section that then takes even longer to dry.  It also means that if there is a second or third part of the design which requires sticking striping tape onto your nail, you needn’t wait for an age before applying it.

Illusion stripe nails

6. Cheap and cheerful

Acrylic paint is a lot cheaper than nail varnish and goes much further too, plus with the options of colours you can mix, there’s no need to fork out for all the different shades.

7. It won’t get under your skin

When doing a gradient with nail varnish it can be an absolute bore to try and remove any that ends up on your skin.


When using acrylic paints however, after applying top coat to your nails, you can simply rinse your hands and any water based acrylic paint that went on your skin will wash right off.

8. To top it off

Not only does acrylic paint dry super quickly, but after putting a normal top coat on your nails to seal in your design, the top coat will dry much faster too.  You may need to use a few layers of top coat however, especially when using light shades, as acrylic paint isn’t quite as hard wearing as nail varnish, but if sealed in correctly, your design can still last up to a week. And an extra couple of layers of top coat is a small price to pay for quick and striking designs.

My technique

So those are the benefits of using acrylic paint – but where to start?

Here’s some advice on 10 Tools for Nailart with Acrylic Paint which outlines what equipment you’ll need and where you can buy it.

Now for the method…

When using acrylic paint I will always put on a clear base coat, followed by two coats of white nail varnish.  This is like canvas preparation.  It provides an opaque backdrop and will make the colours of the acrylic paint stand out and seem brighter.  I have tried using just white acrylic paint as the background but it came out too translucent.  Depending on my design, I will sometimes put a layer of white acrylic paint over the two coats of white nail varnish so that my canvas dries faster, as it will mean I can start painting a design or sticking striping tape over my nails straightaway.

Take a look at my Love Nails Tutorial to see acrylic paints in action.

Valentine's Day Love Nails

I hope that’s helped explain why acrylic paints are so fundamental to nailart. Let me know if you decide to give them a go and how you get on.

I’m Ready to Try Nailart

So, perhaps you’ve been considering it for a while, you may even have attempted a design or two, but now the time has come for you to take your nailart ambitions to the next level.  

Where do you go from here?  How do you go about having nails that will leave people speechless?!


Ah Haaa!  That’s what I’m here for.

I’m going to ask you a series of questions to help you get on your way. Ok, here goes …

1. Can you master a good base colour?

Yes – go to question 2.

No – read this to discover how to make your manicure look professional and then continue to question 2.

2. Is this your first time doing nailart?

Yes – you’ll be brilliant!  There are some introductory nailart tips here and 7 tips to consider before embarking on nailart here. Once you feel confident, move on to question 3.

No – great, proceed to question 3.

3. Do you want to try some new equipment?

Yes – read this and this for some recommendations of nailart equipment then move on to question 4.

No – stripes are a great design to try if you’re a beginner because you don’t always need extra equipment. Try one of these six simple stripe designs.

Vertical Stripe Gradient Nails

Or this a ruffian manicure is always an easy place to begin. Then go to question 9.

Demilune Ruffian Nails

4. Do you want to have a go at a simple gradient? 

Yes – here’s a tutorial for you to try, then go to question 9.

Rainbow Gradient Nails

No – move on to question 5.

5. Do you have nailart pens or dotting tools?

Yes – how about one of these polka-dot designs?  Then go to question 9.

Yellow crowned nails

No – proceed to question 6.

6. Do you have all the tools and equipment imaginable?

Yes – I’m jealous!  Try this love design then nip to question 9.

Valentine's Day Love Nails

No – it’s ok, neither do I!  Go to question 7.

7. Are you up for trying something a bit fiddly?

Yes – there are some tutorials for detailed fashion-inspired designs here and an ikat tutorial here before you go to question 9.


No – move on to question 8.

8. Are you just looking for inspiration?

Yes – ooh me too, always!  Have a look at my nailart photo archive and see if anything takes your fancy then proceed to question 9.

No – go to question 9.

9. Has this been helpful?

Yes – I’m so pleased!  If you give nailart a go, post it on Instagram and tag me @tillynailart so I can see too.

No – please comment below or drop me an email and send through any suggestions for what you’d like me to post about or what tutorials you might like to see.

Stamp of Approval?

For a while now I have seen photos on Instagram of impressively intricate nailart patterns and designs, only to be disappointed when I read in the comments that they are achieved by the use of stamping plates.  I feel cheated in some way.

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, stamping plates are little silver templates to which you apply nail polish, scrape away the excess and then press a rubber ball-stamp on to them which picks up the design so it can then be transferred to your nail.


To the untrained eye, the effect can be hypnotically alluring.

They come in all sorts of designs and the leading competitors on the market seem to be MoYou London and Konad.  (Both British brands – we are a fraudulent bunch aren’t we?!)

Despite the apparent deception of these designs, I’m ashamed to say my curiosity got the better of me.

I ordered the relevant materials and gave them a try yesterday.  I practiced a few times on some paper with little success but decided to dive into the deep end anyway and attempt a design on my nails.  I didn’t want to waste too much time on what would most likely be a nail fail so I used acrylic paints as my base as I knew it would dry faster so I could get started on the stamping sooner.

I used four MoYou-London ‘Mother Nature’ plates and chose different sections of them for each nail.  The plates themselves are beautiful – covered in flowers and birds and hearts as well as hot air balloons!





If only the finished result could be as beautiful.


They take a fair bit of getting used to and the perfectionist in me could never be completely happy with them because it is nearly impossible to get a flawless finish.  Added to which my morals feel threatened by the dishonesty of the whole affair!

However, the process was tremendously therapeutic and transported me temporarily back to my childhood.  Flashbacks of arts and crafts afternoons filled my head and made me feel happy.  (Perhaps it was the varnish fumes!)

Try them out if you want high impact nails with minimum effort but don’t mind an imperfect finish or your morals being questioned. I’ve since given these another attempt, this time using nail varnish as my base and had much more success.

Subtle Peacock Nails

Tips if you decide to go for it:

  • When picking up the design on the rubber stamp, scratch off any stray sections of varnish that are not part of the design you want.
  • Wait a while before adding top coat afterwards as the nail varnish smudges more than normal.

I hope this helps you decide one way or another.

The Easiest Nailart Technique

My aim with tillynailart is to show you that excessive amounts of fun and beauty can be created with minimal effort.

The nailart technique that requires the least effort and is best for beginners is polka dots.

Mickey and Minnie Mouse Nails

Even if you’re not a beginner, polka dot nailart is still a brilliant style, and here are just a few reasons why:

1. Dots are great by themselves

Arrange them however you like, you’ll always get a striking pattern.

Spiral dotted nails

2. Dots can enhance an existing design

Add dots to a sponged gradient to liven it up.

Gradient Dot Nails 20140330-110001.jpg

3. Dots form a great backdrop

Florals are a beautiful addition to a clean dotticure.

Floral Polka Dot Nails

4. Dots can be piled up to form new shapes

Layer up your dots to form a crowning half moon floral pattern.

Yellow crowned nails

5. Dots are great for covering up mistakes

I’m still a complete amateur at watermarbling so dots serve as the perfect antidote to any smudges or bubbles!

Watermarble 2

6. There are multiple methods for making polka dots 

If you don’t have nailart tools and you want smaller dots, you could try using a cocktail stick.  Personally I can’t seem to make it work.  Or you might have a few tiny paint brushes that you could use to give it a go.


Using nailart pens is  a great way to branch into polka dots.  They are easy to use and come in lots of different colours.


However, my favourite way to create perfect shaped dots of any size is using dotting tools.  They have quite literally transformed my nailart life!


So there you have it – six reasons to give polka dot nailart a try and lots of design inspiration too!  Just remember not to put your top coat on immediately afterwards or you risk smudging your work.  Wait a bit and then blob it on rather than brushing it on.

I hope this has made you go dotty for nailart!  Tag your creations @tillynailart so I can see them too.

Relationship Status Changed

So often I shy away from experiences I haven’t tried before.  It’s probably partly as a result of my extreme introversion, in addition to my overarching fear of failure, but I also just love routine and the security of knowing what the outcome will be in any situation.

I’m currently reading Quiet by Susan Cain, in which she writes about ‘the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking.’  According to Cain, as an introvert, I have a high reactive amygdala (emotional brain!), and apparently the more reactive it is, ‘the more jangled [I’m] likely to feel when [I] confront something new and stimulating.’

So, there’s no avoiding it, it’s in my nature.

So far, my relationship with spontaneity has been fairly non-existent.  I flirted with it briefly, but all trace of this was soon ruined by too much planning.  I set aside a day to be spontaneous, but ensured it was well within a strict set of parameters like – as long as I was warm enough, within walking distance of food and bathroom facilities at all times, had slept well the night before, was suitably dressed for all weather eventualities, was able to get home easily etc etc.  What can I say? I’m practical!

You’re probably wondering where I get my enjoyment from if I only do things that are predictable and controlled (two words that have never let me down).  Well, I guess I get satisfaction from that feeling that I have done something better than I had planned.  And that’s not to say I set low expectations just so I can supersede them.  On the contrary I am an extreme optimist and quite a perfectionist.  What it means is that I am almost always content, but on occasion, if something genuinely exceeds my expectations, I am positively ecstatic.

What’s this got to do with nailart you may be asking?

Well, this week I entertained the idea of a date with a challenge that was most definitely out of my league and certainly outside my comfort zone.  I don’t really know what compelled me to do it.  I knew I was probably taking on too much, but I had recently reached the ‘positively ecstatic’ state following a recent floral venture, and as a result, was feeling deceptively overconfident.

This challenging design combined ombre (which thankfully I had done before, see Ombre Seaside Nailart Tutorial) with extremely fine detail.

Ombre Seaside Nails

Obviously, like any good planner, I thought through the implications of it not working out first.  What would be the worst-case scenario?

The first course – the ombre might be a complete disaster and I would have to build the rest of the design on unsatisfactory foundations, or mortifyingly, just call it a day there.

The second course – the fine detailed overlay might be terrible and ruin whatever progress I’d made during the first course.  This really would be discouraging and I would have to go away and start again, which would make the whole thing a complete waste of time.

But, if I succeeded, I thought, if I made it to desert, then having pushed myself to the next level of nailart, I would be able to take on other intimidating designs with confidence.

Going through these outcomes one by one, I realized that death from failure wasn’t one of them, so I went for it.


You’ll be pleased to know the ombre seemed to work so I stuck around for the detailed overlay. It was all going so well until I put the top coat on and streaked black across the background – the social equivalent of snapping your stiletto heel and limping your way through the remainder of an evening.  I was pretty gutted as it meant it was far from perfect.  But, no one seemed to mind and I actually learnt a lot from the experience.

The following day, my good friend from University, Lina, came over for a manicure.  Admirably she is running the San Francisco Marathon this weekend and wanted some suitable nailart for the event.

Having accomplished an ombre and fine detail design less than 24 hours before, I suggested something similar for her without even a moment’s hesitation, but this time with a running man on a sunset backdrop interspersed with American flags.

The borders of my comfort zone had been expanded thanks to the previous day’s near success and now there was no holding me back.


Wonderfully, it was even better the second time round.

So, what’s all this taught me?

Well, I can’t say I will be running a Marathon any time soon, but I certainly feel more open to venturing across the perimeters of my little comfort zone … at least every so often.  In fact, this experience has actually changed my feelings towards daunting challenges and convinced me to give almost everything a go once, even if it’s only so I can learn from my mistakes.  After all, the world is not going to end if I fail.


For the Romantic Sunset design, in addition to your base and top coat, you will need a light blue nail varnish, a light pink, a dark pink, a white and a black nail varnish.  It also requires a make up sponge and some fine acrylic brushes.


I used Dreamer by Revlon, Pink Friday by OPI, and Fuscia Fever, White on White and Knockout all by Revlon.


  1. Start by painting your base coat, followed by two coats of white varnish.  This will make the colours of your sunset more dynamic.
  2. Paint stripes of your light blue, light pink and dark pink on the sponge so that they overlap.
  3. Check which way the sponge needs to be in order to get the right colour direction on your nails and then sponge away.  You will need to top up your stripes of paint for every other nail and you will also need to do three coats of your sponging.  Clean up around the edges using a slanted brush dipped in nail varnish remover.  You can also minimize clean up by placing sellotape or Vaseline around your nails first.
  4. Next, using your fine acrylic brush dipped in white nail varnish, paint a large circle on each of your ring fingers and blot the inside of the circle with the brush to make a shadowy moon shape.  Then place tiny white dots at random on each of your fingers for faint stars in the sky.  Finally, taking your brush and dipping it in black nail varnish, carefully paint on the silhouette designs you would like and then seal with your top coat.

Perhaps you’re also keen to take on a nailart challenge.  If you’re not sure about either of these designs and prefer instead a simpler version of a silhouette on a gradient background why not try this?  It’s one I did a while ago before I had any tiny acrylic brushes.


Give it a go.  You may just surprise yourself.


More Recommended Nailart Equipment

As is always the way with these things – you write a list and before long, you realise you’ve overlooked something.

If you’re a beginner at nailart then check out my previous post on recommended nailart equipment which will see you through most designs.  However, this post will outline a couple of other tools that I have had the benefit of using recently.

1. Dotting tools


These dotting tools are quite literally game changers – they take your nailart from amateur to expert as each polka dot or petal is an exact circle.   They retain polish on the nib for a couple of dots and are predictable, which is where nailart pens fail.  You are in complete control with these and you don’t get cramp in your hand from squeezing the tube of a nailart pen.  This set comes in five different sizes and are easy to use and easy to clean.

2. Stripers


With the dual action – pen and thin brush, these stripers will help any design look professional.  When using the pen, the paint flows out much more freely than with other nailart pens so you are less prone to get cramp in your hand.  The striper allows you to draw straight lines along the length or width of your nail with little or no hassle.  With the variety of colours, this set has opened up a huge range of designs for me to try.

3. Acrylic brushes


Tiny brushes like this mean that no design is off limits.  The intricacies you can accomplish with these is immense.  I advise getting a few different sizes, bearing in mind you can never go too small.  If you are using a few brushes at the same time for one design you have to be particularly careful when switching brushes not to smudge your hard work, but you soon get used to the juggling act.

4. Fan brush


So I’m yet to try this method but using a fan brush you can achieve a messy stripes / zebra print look by sweeping a fan brush across your nail a couple of times.  I’ve ordered mine, can’t wait for it to arrive!

5. Nail tip guides


These nail tip guides are brilliant, and I particularly love that they come in a variety of shapes to help you achieve different looks.  You get loads in a packet so will be sure to come up with countless designs – my mind is buzzing with ruffian and chevron based ideas!  Don’t worry about having to wait ages for your base colour coat to dry, simply put on a fast drying top coat over your base colour and you won’t need to wait long at all.

6. Striping tape


For ages I wondered how people managed to get such straight lines when doing nailart and then I discovered striping tape.  This stuff is great, if quite fiddly to place on your nails, but you soon get the hang of it.  You can either use it as a template to help you achieve straight lines, or with all the different colours, you can simply pick the one you want, cut it to size and stick it to your nail in your desired pattern and then paint top coat over it.  So many possibilities!

So, there you have it, a few extra options to further your inspiration.  Hope you found it useful!

Fashion at your Fingertips

Perhaps we can’t all afford couture clothing straight from the runway, but who’s to say we can’t get in on the fashion action anyway, and even beat celebrities to it?!

I’ve picked four Spring / Summer 2014 ready to wear styles that I think are going to be big in the coming year.

Dolce and Gabbana Nailart Tutorial
Temperly London Nailart Tutorial
Missoni Nailart Tutorial
Alberta Ferretti Nailart Tutorial


By focusing in on the different elements that make up each look not only can your wardrobe get an update, but I’m also going to show you how you can translate each one into nailart to give you cutting edge couture at your fingertips.


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First up is Dolce and Gabbana.  I love the bold mix of vibrant polkadot and brocade.  It screams opulence and captures the best bits of Italy.  To adapt it to your wardrobe notice the courageous colour combo and the mix of prints.  This is certainly not a look to shy away from for 2014.


Photo by Blaow Photo

For this manicure, in addition to your base and top coat, you will need a red and a gold nail varnish and also ideally a black nail varnish pen or a normal black polish and also a fine acrylic brush.

20131005-165833.jpgThe colours I used were Fearless and Gold Coin both by Revlon and a black nailart pen by Rio.


1. After applying your base coat, add two coats of your red polish.

2. Next paint a gold stripe down the middle of the nail but only in the half closest to the tip of the nail.  Follow this up by painting two shorter stripes either side of the central stripe so what you are left with is a gold block, shaped like the skirt.

3. Use your black nailart pen (or dotting tool, or cocktail stick dipped in black nail varnish) and paint dots of nail varnish in diagonal rows along the remaining red section of the nail.

4. Focus in on a section of the skirt that you want to replicate for the brocade.  Taking your black nailart pen, paint your pattern on top of the gold part of your nail.  I would recommend practising this stage on some paper first.

5. Seal with your top coat and allow to dry while you await the compliments!


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Second in this series is one of my favourite looks from the entire Spring / Summer 2014 catwalk.  It comes from Temperly London and takes the art of gradient to the next level as it effortlessly blends leopard print into flirty florals – both an absolute must for this season.


For this design, as well as your base and top coat, you will need a light orange polish, a black nailart pen, a light pink polish, a darker pink pen and a green pen.  If you don’t have the pens then you can just as easily use a fine acrylic brush, but a pen allows for faster application as only one layer is needed to achieve the rich colour.

20131005-174751.jpgI used Sheer Blush by Revlon, a light orange shade by Nails Supreme, my trusty black nailart acrylic pen by Rio, Pink Friday by OPI, a dark pink pen by Nail Art and a green nailart acrylic pen by Rio.


1. First things first, apply your base coat followed by two coats of a nude polish.  Then apply some light orange varnish to about a half to two thirds of your nail at the cuticle end.  It doesn’t have to finish with a neat line.

2. Using your black nailart pen paint a series of short black lines in varying directions on only the orange section of the nail.  The lines should be in pairs and should curve towards one another but not touch, like brackets.  Intersperse these with a few black dots if there is empty space between each one.

3. Blob on some light pink varnish in rough dots onto the bare end of the nail.  Apply a couple of pink dots in the centre of the black brackets nearest the edge of the orange section to imitate the gradual fade from leopard print to florals.

4. Surround your pink dots with sets of dark pink brackets and again, intersperse with dark pink dots in any empty space.

5. Place tiny green dots in the centre of your pink brackets to look like flowers.

6. Apply your top coat and wait while they dry before giving your self a pat on the back for your impressive work!


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Third in line is a look by Missoni.  A lot of Missoni’s collection had a graphic Japanese influence, with inspiration from the elements – earth, air, fire and water.  Chevrons were a key factor, interpreted both as waves and birds.  If you’re wanting to update your wardrobe, reach for bold colours with multicoloured stripes or chevrons.  Think less breton and more varying widths of brightly coloured stripes mixed with monochrome.  Texture is also a big look for 2014 so aim to pair matte and sheer materials for a quick modern take on any outfit.


For this manicure, in addition to your base and top coat, you will need a blue hue, a black varnish and a white nailart pen.  You will also need nail tip guides, or, if you don’t have any, you could use thin strips of sellotape.

20131005-165852.jpgThe colours I went for were Dreamer and Knockout, both by Revlon, a white nailart pen by Rio and some French Tip Nail Guides that I ordered off Amazon.  I also used Matte Magic top coat by China Glaze.


1. To start, paint your base coat and follow up with two coats of your blue polish.

2. Next I recommend applying a quick drying top coat to seal in your colour so that when you apply the nail tip guides the colour doesn’t come off with the adhesive.  When this has dried, apply your nail tip guides in pairs.  I wanted one chevron on each nail, apart from my thumb which had two chevrons, and therefore four nail tip guides.

3. Paint black stripes between the nail tip guides and peel off the guides immediately after painting the black stripes onto each nail (you may want to use tweezers for this).

4. Using your white nailart pen, draw a border along the edge of the black chevrons.  Don’t worry if it’s not perfect as this will resemble the jagged edges on the design.

5. Next apply your top coat.  I opted for a matte top coat to imitate the leather look of the skirt.


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Florals were big on the catwalk for Spring / Summer 2014, and no one portrayed them quite as intricately and delicately as Alberta Ferretti.  It was both dramatic and romantic with bright oranges and blues and greens and pinks that seemed to beckon in the summer.  If dark, wintery nights are starting to get too much for you then splash out some colourful florals to lift your mood.


In addition to your base and top coat, you will need the following colours: black, light blue, light pink, orange, purple, bright pink, yellow, white, green and coral.   You will also need some dotting tools and fine acrylic brushes and finally some patience and quite a bit of spare time.  Normally my manicures take me an hour.  This one took me two and a half as I was determined to get it right.

20131005-165902.jpgThe shades I used (from left to right) were Knockout and Dreamer both by Revlon, Pink Friday by OPI, Siren, Enchanting and Fuscia Fever, again all by Revlon, 330 by Barry M, White on White, Posh and Tropical Temptation by Revlon.


1. Start by painting your base coat, followed by two layers of your black polish.

2. Using your dotting tool, paint little blue flowers near the cuticle end of your nail, each made up of five dots.

3. Next repeat step 2 but paint pink flowers instead, further up the nail, and occasionally paint little pink dots over some of the blue dots near where the pink flowers are.

4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 using your orange polish to paint flowers at the tip of your nail and every so often paint over a pink dot near where the orange flowers are.

5. Paint a little purple smudge in the middle of the blue flowers.  It doesn’t have to be neat.  You want it to look like it blends in with the blue.

6. Paint dark pink dots in the centre of your blue (and now purple) flowers, and also in the middle of your pink flowers.

7. Paint some yellow dots over part of the orange flowers near the tip.

8. Place a tiny white dot in the centre of the blue and the pink flowers and around the outside of some of the blue and the pink petals.

9. Using your fine brush, dip it in a tiny bit of green and also in some white polish and paint leaves in any black spaces on the nail.  The effect should be some tiny streaky leaves.

10. I could have stopped there, but I thought my orange and yellow flowers didn’t look very realistic so using my light coral polish I added a little dot in the middle of each of the orange flowers to blend them in a bit better.

11. Finally, apply your top coat in gloopy dabs over the top so you are careful not to smudge your hard work.


There you have my predictions for what will be hot even before next summer, and how you can have couture within your reach.  Give it a go and if you post your photos, tag them @tillynailart so I can see how you get on.