Hannibal Lecter Nail Art

Every once in awhile, I’ll have a friend request that I do specific nail art.  At the beginning of October, I was approached by Sung Jin Hong, the conductor of One World Symphony, with the idea of doing some Hannibal Lecter themed nail art to commemorate the October 25 world premiere of his Hannibal opera.  You can find the details of the upcoming concert here if you are interested in attending.  I kind of love the challenge of coming up with a look to fit the theme as it always gets my creative juices flowing, so I agreed to it even though I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to pull off a good looking mani.

The first order of business was to watch Silence of the LambsHannibal, and Red Dragon to see what would inspire me and what I could paint to represent Hannibal Lecter.  The only thing that really made sense to me was to paint his face in the mask, which appears in the first two movies.  I could have painted some of the finer things that he adores, but I felt like nothing would stand out as distinctly Hannibal unless I painted the man himself.  That’s when I knew I was going to be working for a long time on this manicure.

The plan was to paint Hannibal’s face in the mask across both hands because my nails are too short and small to be able to give him enough detail on one hand alone.  I’ve never considered myself a real artist, and I’ve definitely never had to paint a realistic looking face before, so I wanted to give myself some room.  I figured 3 nails would be sufficient for the width, so I put him in the center and planned to do a bloody splatter on the surrounding nails.

But first, I had to pick some colors.  Nothing is worse than digging through your nail polish collection when you haven’t finished a design, so I always try to plan ahead.

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Left to right: White Hot, Give Peach a Chance, and Caught with my Khakis Down by Sephora by OPI, and Janae by Julep.

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Left to right: Sweet Daisy by Nicole by OPI, Tip Your Hat by China Glaze, and Blue-Mmmm by Piggy Polish.

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Clockwise from top left: acrylic paints by craft smart in White, Dark Grey, Black, Bright Red, Golden Brown, and Brown.

With this design involving two hands with differing elements, there are twice the number of photos.  Let the slideshow begin!

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The left hand starts out with White Hot on my thumb and pinky while the other nails get Give Peach a Chance. This will become the top half of Hannibal’s face.

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The right hand gets White Hot on the thumb and pinky again, Caught with my Khakis Down on the middle finger, and Give Peach a Chance on the outside 3/4 of nails. This will be the bottom part of the mask, so the peach color is supposedly the skin of his neck.

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After allowing the peach color to dry for a little bit, I finished off the shape of the bottom of the mask by painting Caught with my Khakis down.

A few notes about the mask.  I realize that in the movie, the mask is more of a flesh color, which is what makes it look that much more terrifying.  I don’t own many polishes in that color family, and I didn’t want to have to paint an entire nail with acrylic paint, so I went with the khaki color.

Also, were I to do this again, I would have made the shape of the mask less chunky.  Anthony Hopkins’ face looks much slimmer through the jawline.  But as I said before, I haven’t had to paint a realistic looking face… on my nails…  with my left hand (I’m right handed, FYI).  So I think I’m allowed a few concessions.  😉

I wanted some time to gather the courage to finish the rest of the face, so I went on to do the blood spatter (or splatter) portion of the design next with Tip Your Hat by China Glaze.  You can read the tutorial on how to create this murder scene look on my previous post.

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Left hand with the splatter added.

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Right hand blood splatter.

With that much done, I decided to try to finish the right hand details.  I always like to paint with my non-dominant hand first whenever I’m not sure if I can pull off a design or not.  The theory is that if I can get my right hand painted, then my left hand will look even better.  🙂

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Start by using a detail brush and Golden Brown acrylic paint. The dots are the ventilation holes in the mask, and the rectangular sections are where the nose and mouth openings are. Sounds creepy already!

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The lower lip is the only one you can see through the mask, so I applied Sweet Daisy with a dotting tool. I wonder if Hannibal would approve of the shade- it’s from the Carrie Underwood collection from Nicole by OPI. 😉 The only reason I didn’t use acrylic paint here is because I don’t own a pre-made pink color and was too lazy to mix one. 😛

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Some nostrils and the opening of his mouth are added with black acrylic paint. I also fixed the shape of the nose holes by adding a dab of Caught with my Khakis Down.

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Hannibal gets some pearly whites with some acrylic paint. I used a dotting motion with a detail brush to give a more realistic look to the teeth without having to outline each one.

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The metal bars are painted over the mouth area and between the nostrils with Dark Grey paint.

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Some contouring of the sides of the face and nose is done with a sponge and Janae by Julep to try to give some depth to the image. I also changed the color of the metal bar between the nostrils to black. In hindsight, I should have also painted the metal bars over his mouth black as well because the grey color blended into the khaki color once topcoat was added.

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The finished right hand! Hey, that wasn’t too hard…

One hand down, one more to go.

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Using a striping brush, I painted the outlines of the mask with Caught with my Khakis Down. For the middle section, I used the brush from the bottle.

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I filled in the outlined area using the brush from the bottle.

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Where did all this detail come from? Almost everything new in this photo is done with acrylic paint and a detail brush except for the blue eyes, which are painted on with a dotting tool and Blue-Mmmm by Piggy Polish. It’s a shimmer polish, so it gives the eyes more dimension.

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The last few steps were to add the hair, ears, and eye detail with acrylic paint.

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A little more contouring done on the mask with Janae and a sponge, and the left hand is done! Yay!

I love how I can use my left hand alone to add some creepiness to everything.

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This photo was taken a week after painting Hannibal, but I had to keep him around for at least the first rehearsal for the opera!

The finished look is just as disturbing.

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Hannibal the Cannibal.

This was an amazing thing to paint, at least for me.  I know it looks cartoony, but considering that I have no experience with portraiture, I’m impressed that I got some of the resemblance down!  It was nice to have the challenge, and now all that’s left is to premiere the opera on Sunday.  Wish me luck!

Happy polishing!  🙂

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