Little Red Riding Hood Nails

If you’re a fan of the musical Into the Woods, you’ll recognize the scene on my nails from the Little Red Riding Hood feature where the wolf and Red sing “Hello Little Girl.” Even though this manicure is stamped, it was probably one of the most labor intensive stamping designs that I’ve ever done and uses several different techniques to bring the images to life.

I started with a rich shimmery forest green polish from Julep called Giselle. You only need to apply 2 coats of polish to achieve the same color that you see in the bottle, and it’s beautiful all on its own.

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Morbid Nail Art

You guys must think that I must be going through something based on the nail art that I’ve been putting out lately! This morbid manicure is the product of a plate I was sent for review and has nothing to do with what’s going on in my personal life, thankfully! But what I find interesting is how many different ways you can interpret the images on my nails, whether positive or negative. Such is the power of art!

I began by painting my nails a shimmery dark blue/purple shade that was a prototype from Elusive Fox Lacquer. This one of a kind polish has a rather long dry time even for just 2 coats of polish, but the formulas put out by this indie brand are gorgeous! Unfortunately, I ran into a lot of problems with my orders from them, so I don’t buy from them anymore, but there’s no denying the beauty of their polishes!

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This prototype from Elusive Fox Lacquer is a one of a kind shade marked with 57 on the bottle.

I used the Artist-L005 plate from Born Pretty for this manicure. The images on this plate look artsy, and there are a lot of depressing options here, but they all stamp really well.

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Birthday Gift Nail Art

I keep meaning to do more birthday themed nail art at the insistence of friends, but somehow it always gets pushed aside in favor of other ideas. This week I participated in a birthday collaboration on Instagram with an obvious deadline that wanted us to use mint, white, holo, coral, baby pink, and nude colors along with a birthday theme, so I was able to create something to fit the bill.

I don’t own many green polishes, so it was hard for me to find a color that I could truly classify as mint. I opted to use Fearless from Formula X for Sephora for my base, which is more of a sage color instead. It is truly a beautiful hue, especially for the spring.

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2 coats of Fearless by Formula X for Sephora is all you need to get full coverage color.

I went with gift box presents to fulfill the birthday theme for the prompt. Luckily I have a good plate to use to make things easy for me.

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The Celebration BPX-L013 plate from Born Pretty Store helps cover major occasions.

I used reverse stamping to color in the boxes. To help speed up the process, I used multiple stampers so I could allow the polish to dry on one stamper as I colored in the next one. For the stamping, I used Ya Qin An polish in White and used the brushes from the bottles to color in the presents.

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Reverse stamping with 4 stampers. Polish colors used were Dot from Zoya (pink), Give Peach A Chance from Sephora by OPI (peach), Sweet Daisy from Nicole by OPI (coral), and Ya Qin An stamping nail polish in White.

I applied Ya Qin An top coat over the stamper heads after I was done coloring in each image and allowed each decal to dry before gently lifting it up with a pair of tweezers and setting it onto my nail. After cleaning up the edges, another layer of top coat applied over the decal helped to seal the deal.

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Presents fit for a birthday or any special day!

FYI- I had also tried stamping the image directly onto my nail, but because the polish dries onto the stamper, the details do not transfer as well as they do when you make a decal out of the design.

I love the look of all the pastel colors together, even though it wasn’t necessary to use them all at once for this collaboration. Check out the designs from all the participants below!

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Wishing @arshneet_nailedit a super happy birthday with lots of cake and presents! 🎂🎈🎁 Hope your day is wonderful! Collage credit @nailart.on.ur.tips Hosted by @kaveeshaaarts and @nailart.on.ur.tips List of all the lovely participants is: @ssonailicious @nailartmaniaby_tanvi @prettyprincesspolish @nailingitrush @honey_candy_ @finepolish @nails.lovely @miss.flawless_nails @unicorgnails.by.nata @kaveeshaarts @stylethosenails @vannab2010 @nailsby.ahana @nailart.on.ur.tips @itskittynails @budding_nailartist #happybirthdaysweetarsh #happybirthdaynails #happybdaynails #finepolish #manicure #mani #notd #nailart #nails #nailstagram #nailsofinstagram #nailpolish #cutepolish #nailsoftheday #nailspo #unhas #ongles #nailartclub #iheartnailart #nailporn #instanails #prettynails #nailspotting #💅 #nailsonfleek #nailartwow #nailartoohlala #bbloggers

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This was a fun prompt for the week. The wheels are already turning to figure out what I’m going to paint next. What a life as an artist!

Happy polishing!

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!  🙂

Super Mario Brothers Power Up Nail Art

With me not working lately, I haven’t felt the need to cut my nails.  I’m a professional flutist and work with my hands a lot, so long nails get in the way of my speedy fingers.

Why I decided on the Super Mario theme for this week came as an afterthought.  Whenever my nails get on the long side, I try to think of doing some sort of French tip manicure because I’ll have the surface area to make it look nice.  This time, I thought to myself, “Oh, doing mushroom tips and an invincible star as an accent nail would be cute, and it will be easy to do.”  Famous last words.

The first step was to gather my colors together.  These are the ones that ended up in the mani:

Sephora by OPI- Give Peach A Chance (How perfect is that name for this mani?!)
Sephora Nail Lacquer 5 Day Shine- Happy hour!
Sephora Nail Lacquer 5 Day Shine- Banana split
Nicka K- NY 139
Essie- Pretty Edgy
Sephora by OPI- White Hot
Acrylic paint

I started out by painting what turned out to be 3 coats of Give Peach a Chance on all my nails except the ring fingers, on which I painted 2 coats of Banana split.  The intention was to later paint Happy hour! onto Banana split to outline the star because it’s always easier to paint a darker color over a lighter color.

Next came the French tip portion.  I originally set out to do only the topmost parts of the my nails with NY 139 and Pretty Edgy in the manner of a regular French manicure.  I wasn’t planning to paint the eyes on the mushroom nails but rather  wanted to just give the impression of having the mushroom heads there.  But then I put the tips on and realized how awful they looked with so much of the peach color on the nail bed.  FAIL.

At this point, I decide to make the peach part more of a half-moon to get the ratio looking right, and it occurs to me that I can maybe cheat with this step and use reinforcement stickers as templates rather than have to paint the curve manually.  But for this, I’ll need to let the peach polish dry.  So let’s try doing the star…

I took a flat brush and started painting the blue color over the yellow one.  Oh, no, no, no…  The blue didn’t have enough coverage in one coat to look good, and because I suck at painting star outlines, the whole thing looked like a streaky mess beyond repair.  FAIL.  A few swipes of acetone over the accent nail, and it was good to start over again, this time with Happy hour! as the base.  I figured that maybe if I painted some of the yellow polish onto a plastic bag, I could let it dry and then punch out the star shape with a craft punch.  Clever, right?  So while that was drying, I went back to the mushrooms…

I have a love/hate relationship with using pre-cut stickers/tape as stencils because I don’t have the patience to let everything dry to the extent that it needs to be dry to not damage the base coat of polish.  I tested my right hand with the reinforcement stickers first because I almost always end up photographing my left hand for my Instagram and Tumblr feeds.

The stickers took a tiny bit of polish off in almost every case.  FAIL.  I was so happy I didn’t at least mess up my left hand!  I managed to patch up the weird looking spots and then manually drew in the colored tips on my left hand.

At this point, I tried checking my yellow polish to see if it was dry yet…  Nope.  So onto the eyes of my mushrooms.

I used my smallest dotting tool to put the eyes on with black acrylic paint.  If you happen to see modern images of the power up, you’ll notice that it has white dots at the top:

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I tried to paint white dots at the top to replicate the look, but it didn’t look right.  Then I realized that the eyes have a gradient effect, so I tried to add gray underneath the white…  at which point it looked like a hot mess.  FAIL.  I ended up painting the eyes with black again.  Thankfully it covered up all the other atrocities!

At this point, I realized that the yellow polish for my star was never going to dry in time for this manicure.  I have little patience when it comes to drying time!  I took some yellow acrylic paint and painted the star by hand with a tiny brush.

While that dried, I had to go back to add the white dots on the mushroom heads.  Silly me tried to use a dotting tool with white polish at first, but I pushed too hard, and the white looked like a mess combined with the green polish underneath it.  FAIL.  So my trick: paint the light colors with acrylic paint and a brush, then paint over the acrylic paint with the color of polish that you like so that the texture evens out.  It’s twice the work, but it looks much nicer in the end.  I did this with all the spots and the star, at which point the only thing I had to do was apply a topcoat.  And voilà!

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Finally done!  With only 5 fails!

But then I ended up smudging my 1-up guy with a bra hook.  😦

GAME OVER