Flame On!

flame-on-fingers

I was watching Cars this morning when it suddenly occurred to me that one of Ramone’s custom paint jobs – he’s the ’51 Impala who owns the paint shop – would make an excellent manicure.  So that’s precisely what I did, opting for his stylized flames-over-purple glitter number – it’s pretty badass for an animated car.

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Bad Fairy Fire: A Tutorial

Fairy Fire Tutorial Collage

I had a terrific response to these flame-licked nails I posted the other day – really, so many sweet compliments. And seeing as they were ultra easy in addition to popular, I thought I’d share the love AND my technique for how to achieve these fiery nails, this time with a Halloween-leaning bent. I suppose this glittery green fire could be Maleficent’s evil-conjuring fire, but really, one green, bad fairy spell is just like the other, is it not? Let’s get into this!

1. To begin, brush on two coats of a dark, opaque polish. For the more traditional fire nails I did the other day, I used a deep, blood red as the background polish. For these more supernaturally-minded nails, I used OPI’s Do You Have This Color in Stock-holm?, a dark, royal purple.

2.-4. Working quickly and going one nail at a time, brush on a thick coat of your base polish. Then, taking the three polishes you’re going to blend together for the fire effect (the other day it was orange, yellow and a glittery red, whereas here it’s Finger Paints’ neon green Silkscreen Green, Smitten Polish’s glittery green Not Your Mama’s Easter Grass and a basic white creme) dab one atop the other, starting with the neon green, then the white, and finally the glittery green, right at the tips of your nails.

5. While all of the above is still wet, take the fine point of a dotting tool and lightly drag it through the polish from the tips of your nails up towards your cuticles, “licking” out the flames as you go. The beauty of a fire-type design is that there’s really no wrong way to do it – fires are abstract and diffuse by design, so even if you fudge up a little bit, who’s going to know? 🙂

6.-8. Continuing to work one nail at a time, repeat with your remaining nails. I varied up the design a bit on my middle and ring fingers, swirling the flames up towards the centre of my hand, but you can make your flames bend and dance however you wish.

Not shown: Topcoat application and clean-up, but you already do that always, right? Right! 😉 Then in the final analysis you’re left with something like this. Flame on!

Bad Fairy Fire Nails

Burn Baby Burn

Burn Hand

So, along with stars and anything involving the human form, I absolutely, positively cannot draw flames. You’d think flames would be so easy, too, all abstract and diffuse and imprecise. But NO, my flames always come out looking more like the lumpy ass end of a turkey, and for the love of all that’s good and frosting-covered, I DON’T KNOW WHY.

But these flames seem to be burning pretty brightly, a look I achieved with no more effort than dragging the fine point of a dotting tool through small, overlapping blobs of red, orange and yellow polish dotted at the very bottom of my nails. It was a ridiculously simple technique, and one that can be easily adapted to all sorts of different designs. I’m making no grand promises, but I hope to have my first video tutorial on these nails up for you tomorrow – really one of those designs that’s a show, don’t tell. Of course, I say that now at three in the afternoon when I’ve yet to even delve into the video editing software. Get back to me tonight around, say, nine and we’ll see what kind of mood I’m in then!

Burn Fingers

Another Go at the Flaming Moe (OMD3)

Flaming Moe's Collage

No, you’re not imagining things – this really is the second time I’ve done this exact design in as many days.

Perfectionist types, no matter the creative medium they dabble in, may be familiar with that nagging feeling to DO BETTER that accompanies perceived mis-steps, like crappy nail art that you really wish you hadn’t published to your blog before embarking on a serious do-over. Because the first Simpsons manicure that I did just two days ago has been DRIVING ME BANANAS, and I’ve been plotting its re-boot ever since I hit the “Publish” button. So when a bit of poor weather-related downtime presented itself this weekend, I decided to do precisely that, and I’m so much happier with the results! Behold, Flaming Moe’s 2.0!

So what was driving me so first world nail polish bonkers about my first attempt? For starters, and probably most vexing of all, I painted the first version quite late at night and took my photos in my insufficiently lit bathroom. Every other manicure I’ve done for the Oh Mon Dieu Nail Art Challenge – indeed, every manicure I’ve done for months, period – has had its photos taken outdoors, which when it comes to nail art photography at least is very nearly always preferable to an artificial light source. Painting my nails in the dim evening light also presented its own set of problems, namely that I didn’t notice any until it was far too late to do anything about them, because I couldn’t clearly see my own work. And to that end, I found the gradient I attempted (which was supposed to look like a multi-layered Flaming Moe) muddy, washed out and ill defined.

I also didn’t care for the way I went about the lettering in “Flaming Moe’s” the first time around. For Moe’s V. 1.0, I painted on the yellow lettering and then outlined each letter in orange, which went about as well as you can imagine. Things got quite messy and I basically wound up painting over the yellow lettering with the orange and then filling it back in with the yellow. Very counter-intuitive and a big waste of time and materials.

So for Version 2.0, I went with a completely different approach, starting with a lighter, simpler gradient in basic creme polishes and ending with the easier lettering technique I eventually adopted during my first go-round. MUCH better, and proof positive that with nail art – and so, so many other things in life – you really can learn from your mistakes, even if it’s a couple of days later. 🙂

Flaming Moe's Hand

Bonfire

Bonfire

These kinds of manicures are so much fun, because there’s not much to them beyond grabbing a detail brush and some polish and going wherever your inspiration takes you.

Here I started off with two coats of black, undoubtedly China Glaze’s Liquid Leather. Once dry, I loaded up a detail brush with a deep, glittery red and applied it to my nails in uneven vertical lines starting just a smidge down from my cuticles. Then just a smidge down from that, I applied another shade of red, this time a bright, cherry red. I repeated that, moving down a tiny bit each time, with a vibrant orange and ending with a bright yellow. Then I dotted on a couple of yellow “embers” and topped the whole thing off with the super reflector of top coats, Seche Vite.

Hey, would you look at that? My first written “tutorial.” One of these days when photography stops being such a black hole of learning for me, I might even post a photo tutorial. Will wonders never cease? 😉