Thursday, July 19, 2012

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All About Stamping Nail Art

Hey guys! I'm glad to be back having full of exciting things to share with you. After a week's absence, you must be wondering where I have been all this time. Well with the heavy workload in school and other agendas to attend to, not to mention our internet problem with our ISP, it has been difficult to rack my brain for inspiration. Even without an Internet, I took time to find an alternative last night to make this blog post possible. Right now, I'm using my phone's 3G service to keep me going. This might sound a little bit too dramatic but having no internet for almost a week now has been such an inconvenience.

Moving on, I don't want to keep you waiting for my "comeback" post which I hope you will find interesting and very helpful. I'm also proud to mention that all of the pictures in this post have been taken and have been edited via my phone. Yey!

First off, I want to give a BIG shout out and thanks to my latest commenter Yvonne (according to her blog profile) who also goes by the name EMY AUGUSTUS for giving me this blog post inspiration. She was asking about how to get a perfectly polished nail by getting a smooth finish around the cuticle area. And as a bonus, I'm going to teach you how I put creative designs on my nails. 

So today, I am going to give you a COMPLETE tutorial on stamping nail art and my technique on how to get a perfectly polished nail. (Expect a lengthy post and please please please bear with me :D )

I have been posting various nail art designs but never really had the chance to show you how I do it. For those who haven't heard about stamping nail art, this post will show you some helpful tips not only on how to get a perfectly looking polished nail but this will also include instructions for a well-designed nail art result. Let's begin!

Here are the things you need for stamping nail art. I've already numbered them so you can easily see what I'm talking about. Don't worry if you aren't familiar with some of these things because I'll explain what each one is for later on.

These are the most basic and essential materials for stamping nail art.

Regular polish is just your ordinary nail polish which you normally buy from a beauty store. It is called "regular" to distinguish it from the different types of nail polish used for designing your nails (nail art). Although regular polishes can also be used for nail art, this type of nail polish is not recommended for stamping designs because of its components that make it quick-dry and shear once applied. Regular nail polishes works for stamping designs on your nails on a case-by-case basis depending on its consistency. This means that there is no guarantee that those ordinary nail polishes which you have at home will work best for stamping. You might be asking what it means if a nail polish "works" or can be used for stamping nail art? It just means that the nail polish can be used to make the design and it is workable enough to make the nail polish transfer from the image plate to the stamper (You will know more about these two materials later on).

You might notice that I use the term base coat whenever I mention Regular Polishes on my previous posts. That's because these regular and ordinary nail polishes serve as a background or base color for your stamped designs.

Special polish is a type of nail polish that has a thick consistency. You can buy these at any KONAD store. Some stores also sell these kinds of polishes which is used specifically for nail art. Most people have this misconception that since the distinguishing feature of special polishes is their thick consistency, one can use their dry and thick ordinary nail polishes left in the rack which they've used for a long time. This is definitely a big NO. You will spot the difference of special polishes from regular polishes when you use it in stamping. Using special polishes, gives you a clear opaque color even if you are using pastel colors.

Even though special polishes works best for stamping nail art, the only downside I see with these is that they are quite expensive. That's why most people choose their ordinary nail polish over special nail polishes for stamping nail art.

It's up to you whether you would want to opt for regular nail polishes that works for stamping nail art but I really recommend special nail polishes for best quality nail art designs. For those who are looking for cheap, effective, almost at par regular nail polishes that works well with stamping designs, watch out for my future blog post. I will teach you how you can tell if the regular nail polish can be used for stamping.

Without any of these three basic stamping nail art tools, I'm afraid your method for nail art is not stamping anymore.

This tool uses a rubber stamp to pick up the image or the design from the image plate and to transfer it to the nail without making the special polish dry up completely. The rubber stamp comes in standard size big enough to fit full nail patterns and medium size for small designs so it will be easier to place small designs on your nails.

Scrapers are used to remove the excess special polish. There are two kinds of scrapers, plastic and metal.
Originally, plastic scrapers were meant as an alternative to metal scrapers which may pose possible harm to kids because in other countries they do not allow these types of materials. Metal scrapers on the other hand aren't that sharp to cut but why risk the possibility. Some stores even call these metal scrapers as "blades" so if ever you have metal scrapers, make sure not to leave them lying around the house in reach of children. Make sure to keep these metal scrapers in a secure place. 

But which one is better? I'd say they are equal in terms of scraping off the excess but if you are a clean freak with your personal things or OC like me, you are better off with a plastic scraper.

See for yourself why

On the left hand side, you can see an image plate with which a plastic scraper has been used. It is very noticeable that the image plate is 99% free from scratches and dents.

On the right hand side, you can see an image plate with which a metal scraper has been used. The image plate is full of scratches and dents.

TIP # 1: If you want to preserve the appearance of your image plates to be really neat and squeaky clean. Use a plastic scraper.

For those who are using metal scrapers, do not fret as the scratches and dents does not affect the quality of designs on the image plate (engraved part) unless you have scraped very carelessly. Whether you have a scratched or scratch-free image plate, you will still have the same image quality.

 TIP # 2: Plastic scrapers are sold separately (although some are included in stamping nail art kits). Since most of the stamp and scraper sets sold by KONAD comes with a default metal scraper, you can have your own plastic scraper by using an unused credit or an arcade card. Most of these are made out of plastic so feel free to use them. If you think the card is too big, you can cut them to a comfortable size. [See image on the last row for example]

Image plates are circular discs that act as templates which hold the pre-designed images. Its material is made out of stainless steel.

There are now countless of image plates available in the market so its hard to distinguish which one is of best quality. Other brands have also manufactured their own image plates some in circular discs, octagon discs and even in big rectangular plates. I haven't tried any other image plate besides KONAD but from experience I am very satisfied with KONAD's Image Plates because it gives you a very detailed image unlike the ones I've seen from video blogs and pictures.

TIP # 3: Want to know if your image plates are authentic from KONAD? KONAD Image Plates have an image plate code engraved in each plate. The official image plate codes from KONAD are m1-m89 and s1-s10. If you don't see any of these codes then its probably fake and manufactured by another brand. 


The purpose of the Image Plate Holder is to hold the image plate in place. It also keeps the surface you are working on clean. You can also use the side of the image plate holder as a palette to mix nail polish colors.

Cotton Balls, Cotton Buds or Q-Tips, Tissue or Dry Towel and Acetone or Nail Polish Remover are your best friends when cleaning. Be sure to have these as things can get a bit messy when doing stamping nail art.

Don't forget a clear top coat for a protective shine and smooth finish. I personally use KONAD's Top Coat or Sally Hansen's 30-Seconds Dry Top Coat so as not to smudge the design or image. 

Now that we're done with the things that you need. Let's move on to the most EXCITING part, the process!

I'd like to divide my STAMPING NAIL ART process into three:
1. Get a perfectly POLISHED NAIL
2. Stamping the NAIL ART DESIGN
3. Detailed nail art designs with PROPER CLEANING

1. Clean your nails. Trim your nails to desired length or remove cuticle if needed.
2-3. Dab your nail polish brush on your nail near the cuticle area to form a concave shape and to follow the outline near the cuticle area. In this way, it will prevent the nail polish from going beyond the natural nail bed.
4. Immediately, swipe the nail polish brush starting from the top most area of the nail towards the bottom to fill the whole nail. This will give you equal strokes and evenly distributed nail polish for the first coat.
5. Apply another coat and repeat step 4 and wait until completely dry.


1. Choose the design that you want from the image plate. 
TIP # 4: Place image plate in a way that the design that you chose is at your right hand side. This makes it easy for you to scrape off the excess special polish properly going in an outward direction.
2. The most common special polish colors used for stamping nail art is black and white. Because both hues can go with almost any color. 
3. Here's an easy guide to determine the colors of your nail art design:
  • BACKGROUND COLOR - use any Regular Polish
  • DESIGN COLOR - use Special Polish
TIP # 5: Make sure that the colors you choose are contrasting colors. For example, if your background color is light like pastel colors your design color should be dark. If your background color is dark having strong colors like hot pink, fiery red or royal blue choose a design color that is lighter. This will make the design stand out more so it can be clearly seen.    


1. Put a generous amount of special polish on the image that you chose 
TIP # 6: To avoid wastage of the special polish, place a thick streak on the left side of the image. No need to cover the whole design with special polish because as you scrape from the left going to the right the special polish will distribute evenly. If you are using big designs, adjust the thickness of the streak accordingly (consider the width of the image for full nail patterns, put a generous amount about 1/3 of the image).
2. Scrape the excess polish from the image plate from left to right. Avoid scraping from different directions. 
TIP # 7: Make your scraper lean approximately 45 degrees to the right. 
If your scraper is leaning below 45 degrees to the right this might scrape off not only the excess polish but also the polish on the engraved part of the image plate which will ruin the design. 
If your scraper is leaning above 45 degrees to the right this might not completely scrape off the excess polish and might scratch or leave dents on your image plate.
3-4. This is probably the most crucial phase of the stamping nail art process. If you are working with a special polish you are given a fair amount of time to get your stamper and pick up the image but if you are working with a regular polish you might not be able to pick up the image completely as it will dry immediately. 
TIP # 8: This is the most important technique you have to learn to get you nail art design completely. As soon as you SCRAPE, immediately ROLL THE STAMPER FROM the right SIDE TO the left SIDE gently and slowly (if possible 180 degrees motion and pull away carefully). All of this in one motion, there is no need to go back.
TIP # 9: Do not stamp like you are stamping on a paper (pressing down directly and pulling up). The tendency is you will smudge the image when you press down firmly.
5. Once you have the image in the stamper, check to see if the image is clear and free of smudges. A properly picked up design should look like this (See number 5). If the image is blurred or completely broken then repeat steps 1-4 after cleaning.
TIP # 10:  You can remove unwanted designs by using cotton buds half-soaked with acetone or nail polish remover. For example, if you wish to put only the flower you can remove the abstract swirls around the sides.
6. Next, transfer the image from the stamper to your nail by ROLL THE STAMPER FROM the rightmost SIDE of your nails TO the leftmost SIDE gently and slowly (if possible 180 degrees motion and pull away carefully).


1. Cleaning is the key to a perfectly stamped nail art design. 
TIP # 11: Every time an image is stamped on your nail always clean STAMPER, SCRAPER, and the IMAGE PLATE with a cotton ball soaked with acetone or nail polish remover.
2. If you think you did the stamping nail art process perfectly but still did not get a perfect detailed image. Your image plate or stamper is probably wet with acetone and nail polish remover. 
TIP # 12: Keep your image plate and stamper dry by cleaning it with tissue. 
3. If some designs got to the sides of your fingernails use Q-Tips or cotton buds soaked with acetone and nail polish remover to remove the excess polish.
TIP # 13: Last but not the least, put some top coat to give your nails a protective and clear shine. When applying the top coat, if you are not using a KONAD Top Coat make sure that you wait for about 2-5 minutes for the nail art design to settle and dry. Apply the top coat properly by making the brush have the least possible contact with the nails (to avoid smudging).

Whew! That has probably been the longest post I've ever made but I'm glad to have shared all of these with you. If you have any inquiries or ideas about my tips and tricks I mentioned, feel free to message me. You can also request me to do a blog post of a certain topic related to nails if you wish.

I hope this helps anyone who's having problems with Stamping Nail Art.
It takes practice to get the hang of it but don't give up!
Don't waste your stamping nail art tools and leave them lying around the house,
just be patient and try it again if you aren't successful. :D

Let me know if any of my tips and tricks worked for you. Have a nice weekend everyone!


WoodPeckie said...

Amazing display....I mean this amazing nail design has is wonderful.i wont say theat it is the best i came across in Zoe nails but it's truly reviving the way I look at the wonderful blend of color & design patter.. hats off :)

sharpasnails said...

Thanks a lot! Feels great to have at least one person to comment on this blog post since this is the longest I've made and done with my best efforts. :)

EmyAugustus said...

I loved the comprehensive info! That cuticle tip about painting the horizontal, concave shape first is actually something that crossed my mind but I haven't tried yet. I will be trying that next time! =)

I'm curious, how did you become involved with KONAD the company?

oh and I saw the video on youtube demonstrating the process. It looks fairly simple! This is the first time I've seen a nail stamping kit. Are there other companies that make them as well?

sharpasnails said...

Thanks :) glad to have shared all of these tips with you. I got involved with KONAD by contacting their international site.

Yeahp! They're pretty easy to do. Other companies make them as well as the stamping nail art system became popular all over the world.

NailNarcotics BC said...

Love it! Stamping is awesome. Makes me feel sooooo talented. I just got to new plates from Konad this week and hope to post them at some point this weekend. I've never bought the special polish but am thinking I should. It drives me nuts when polishes don't work.

sharpasnails said...

Thanks! I agree :) I've been obsessed with stamping for over a year now :)). Encourages and sparks your creative talent.

Cool! Same here I've bought like 3 new plates. Feel free to share some of your nail art ideas here via email. I'll include them in my next post :)

You can try at least one special polish and see how it works for you. :)

Louise Costello said...

Thanks, will give it a go now!

organicgel nails said...

We are Providing Best Nail Supplies Services for Our Client whom want to buy online Nails.

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school for nails said...

Stamping is awesome. Thanks for offering some unique and effective ways to do this!

Keep posting.

for nails

Joy McKenzie said...

I am very new to this nail stamping art, in fact I am waiting for my Konad supplies right now and itching to get started, thank you so very much for this tutorial, I love a French manicure....I also watch your videos on You Tube and they are excellent, so thanks for sharing
Joy in Australia

Harriet Mendler said...

How pretty!

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