Introduction: DIY Nail Decals

If you're like me (someone who's not ambidextrous) then you probably know how hard it is to paint designs onto your nails with your non-dominant hand. It's already hard enough to paint your dominant hand a solid color, let alone an intricate design. This is why I would like to take the opportunity to share this easy method of getting designs onto your nails without all the mess! Since the 4th of July is VERY VERY near, I decided to do a design on that. Let's get right to it!

Step 1: Things You Will Need

My design is going to be the flag of USA. As there are alternating red and white stripes, I will be showing you 3 methods of painting the stripes. In my experience, the brush method yields the straightest and cleanest lines, so that is my preferred method.


You Will Need:

Nail Polish:
Top Coat {OPI RapiDry}
Red Nail Polish {Orly Haute Red}
White Nail Polish {Sally Hansen White On}
Blue Nail Polish {Essence Cool and The Gang}
Black Nail Polish {Sally Hansen Black Out} (optional / for outlining)

Nail Art Tools:
[method 1] Dotting Tool (small & large)
[method 2] A Straw
[method 3] Long-ish Striper Brush (alternative: red striper)


Finally, you will need a plastic sheet to make the nail decals on. I just used a plastic sleeve from a binder, but you can use ziploc bags as well. Just make sure it's large enough.

PS: Although the black nail polish is pictured, I didn't actually use any of it.

Step 2: Making the Base

Of all my fingers, my thumbnail is the biggest, so I roughly measured it (2cmx1cm). Using this measurement, I painted white rectangles approximately 2cm by 1cm. (TIP: It's better to paint the rectangles larger than smaller, you can always trim the excess off!)

Depending on whether you're doing a full manicure or just a couple accent nails, adjust the amount of rectangles accordingly. I painted 10.

PS: You don't have to use white as a base. I use it because it makes the colors pop, and also because the flag has white in it.

Let it dry for approx. 5 minutes

Step 3: Painting on the Design

Now we're going to move on to painting the flag designs. The flag is basically comprised of a blue rectangle, red stripes, and white dots. Every flag is going to have the blue rectangle, so go ahead and paint that first.

As I've said before, there are 3 methods to painting the red stripes. We need to let the blue area dry before we paint on the dots, so while we're waiting, the stripes can be painted on.

For the Dotting Method, go to step 4
For the Straw Method, go to step 5
For the Brush Method, go to step 6

Step 4: Painting Stripes: Dotting Method

So I've gone ahead and done 2 rows already, but the basic idea is simple. You dip your large dotting tool in red polish and starting at one end (see pic 2), make 1 dot, then move a little bit over and make a second dot, continuing like this until you reach the other end. (TIP: re-dip your dotting tool often to keep it moist with the polish)

Make a couple rows like this and you've got your red & white stripes!

After finishing the stripes, you can go ahead and add the stars. To add the stars, I used my small dotting tool dipped in white polish to make 3 dots in a vertical row (with space between). Then I added 3 dots slightly to the right, with the dots positioned between the spaces of the previous dots (see last pic). I then continued like this until i reached the other side.

Leave them to dry for 2~3 hours. I found that leaving them overnight resulted in more brittle decals that were harder to work with as they dried out too much.

Step 5: Painting Stripes: Straw Method

To use the straw method, liberally paint a strip of red onto your piece of plastic. Lay your straw flat in the puddle of polish. (TIP: to get thin stripes, don't roll the straw around in the polish, keep it on one strip of the straw) Take your straw out of the polish carefully, and lay it polished-side down on the flag. You can see that my first stripe got onto another flag, which creates additional mess. Repeat the process until the stripes are all painted. I had to fill in my mistakes with some white polish (last pic).

I didn't add the stars yet, but you can do that after finishing the stripes. To add the stars, I used my small dotting tool dipped in white polish to make 3 dots in a vertical row (with space between). Then I added 3 dots slightly to the right, with the dots positioned between the spaces of the previous dots (see last pic). I then continued like this until i reached the other side.

Leave them to dry for 2~3 hours. I found that leaving them overnight resulted in more brittle decals that were harder to work with as they dried out too much.

Step 6: Painting Stripes: Brush Method

Make a small puddle of red polish and dip your brush into it. Wipe off any excess polish so the brush lays flat. Paint lines from one end to the other as straight as possible. Be sure to apply even pressure so that the thickness of the line is the same.

After finishing the stripes, you can go ahead and add the stars. To add the stars, I used my small dotting tool dipped in white polish to make 3 dots in a vertical row (with space between). Then I added 3 dots slightly to the right, with the dots positioned between the spaces of the previous dots (see last pic). I then continued like this until i reached the other side.

Leave them to dry for 2~3 hours. I found that leaving them overnight resulted in more brittle decals that were harder to work with as they dried out too much.

Step 7: Peeling the Decal

After it has dried, you can begin to carefully peel the decal off the plastic sheet. I used a cuticle pusher to gently push one end of the decal up, so that it forms a ridge that I can use tweezers to pick it up (careful not to tear it, it's very delicate).

If you're lucky you'll end up with a whole piece like the one in the second picture.

Step 8: Applying the Decal

If you're adding decals to painted nails, wait until the polish has dried, then add a drop of clear polish and press the decal onto the nail. Seal with Topcoat.

I've prepped my nails with OPI Natural Nail Basecoat. After the basecoat has dried, I lined the decal up to my nail and pressed from the middle, smoothing out all the air bubbles (you only get one chance to line it up right! Once it's on, you can't move it).

Then, I took my nail file and filed the excess decal off in a downwards motion. To get excess sides off, use the dotting tool to press into the area between the nail and the skin, punching holes in the decal. Keep making holes until you can easily peel the excess off. Do the same for the rest of the excess decal.

This is what you should be left with after completing those steps. (last pic)

Step 9: Finished Product

TA-DA!! Wasn't that simple? The best thing about this method is that you can do it for any design you want. You can even make nail decal sheets in a solid color to use when you don't have time for polish to dry.

For my middle, ring, and pink finger I made small decals in the form of stars. I placed a teensy drop of white polish on the plastic and used my dotting tool to spread the polish out, making 5 "legs".

On my thumb, I made a larger star and outlined the edges, alternating between blue and red.


That's it! I hope you enjoyed my FIRST instructable, please let me know if you have any suggestions or comments! Happy painting!

Comments

author
rhirhi (author)2016-05-26

I should try it

author
MG011 (author)2013-07-03

Hey that's cool i might just try it :)

author
Tarun Upadhyaya (author)2013-07-03

I think it is a great Idea:) and too good for your first instructables. Thank you for sharing :).

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