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30 mins

The classic. A must in every nail artist's skill set!
Leopard nail art is a classic. This was one of the first techniques I learned, and every nail artist should know it! The tutorial below shows fall colors, but there is no end to the possibilities you can create!

Posted by lacquerologist from Canton, Ohio, United States • Published See lacquerologist's 7 projects »

  • How to paint an animal nail. Leopard Nail Art - Step 1
    Step 1

    Apply base coat to your nails. Apply your base color. I prefer to use a lighter, neutral shade for a base color, but really you can use whatever you'd like, including a gradient or other textural look! Here, I'm using Essie Yogaga.

  • How to paint an animal nail. Leopard Nail Art - Step 2
    Step 2

    Make "blobs" using your large dotting tool and the colors you've chosen for your leopard spots! I make circular motions with my dotting tool to keep the spots a bit irregular. Be careful not to press too hard with your dotting tool and have plenty of polish on the tool. You can make your blobs in different sizes, shapes, spacing and colors. You can use as many colors as you'd like, just make sure that they show up agains the color you've chosen for your base. I'm using Milani High Speed Fast Dry in Rapid Cherry, Jiffy Orange, Yellow Whiz and Priti NYC Giant Granadilla. If you've never used a dotting tool before, I just put a little puddle of polish on a paper plate and dip my dotting tool directly into that, and then apply it to the nail. I wipe my dotter off on a paper towel after every couple uses and between colors.

  • How to paint an animal nail. Leopard Nail Art - Step 3
    Step 3

    After letting your blobs dry for a few minutes, use your small dotting tool to roughly outline your blobs with your detail color. I tend to use black polish for this (I'm using Wet N Wild Wild Shine Black Creme), but if your base color is dark, you might want to use white. Be creative. Again, don't press too hard with your dotting tool. Make sure you have plenty of polish on the tool and swipe it across your nail to create outlines on the leopard spots. I usually do two little "parenthesis" of black on each spot, but you can do three if you'd like! Be sure to vary the orientation of your outlines...make some up and down and some left to right.

  • How to paint an animal nail. Leopard Nail Art - Step 4
    Step 4

    Using your small dotting tool and detail color, make a few dots and/or smudges of color to fill in the space on the nail. This does not need to be perfect! It's not perfect in nature!

  • How to paint an animal nail. Leopard Nail Art - Step 5
    Step 5

    Clean-up your cuticles with acetone and an angled eye-liner brush. Let dry well before applying top coat. When applying top coat, be sure to use a full brush and a light hand!

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