Fantasy nail art is the flashy, artistic side of nails, and many techs use acrylic as a medium to express some very detailed pieces.
NAILS’ top 10 competitor, Lynn Lammers, shows just how detailed fantasy nail art can be by giving us a look into how she makes one of her most difficult designs.
1. I build the body first. I roll a form into a tube shape and sculpt acrylic all the way around the form to make the basic shape of the dragon’s body.
2. I then sculpt the basic shape of the neck and head on a few laid out forms, focusing on the bend of the neck. I make the upper half of the head and mouth first, then the lower jaw. I add eyeballs with white acrylic, making sure to put eyelids over the eyes, and I sculpt nostrils and curl the upper lip to give the dragon an aggressive look.
3. Next, I build the tail. I first stick forms onto a paper towel to get a surface area big enough to lay out the entire tail. Then I sculpt the basic shape, attach it to the body, and add more acrylic for finishing touches.
4a. Wings are next, and this is the most difficult part. I first draw the wing on a piece of paper and cut it into three sections.
4b. I’ll trace one of these sections directly onto a form with a pencil, and lay the acrylic into this shape. As it is curing, I use a natural colored acrylic to mold a membrane-type wing to give the dragon a life-like appearance, and a white acrylic for the wing’s bone structure. I attached all the membrane pieces with the bone structures and fix them to the body, leaving ridges of acrylic stretching from body to wing to resemble folds of skin. This is just for one wing though. Do the same on the other side, but remember to sculpt the other wing in the opposite direction so you have two opposing wings.
5. For the legs and claws, I lay out the basic leg shapes on a form and add acrylic until it looks like a dragon leg. For the talons, I use a technique called “stretching,” where I pick up a bead of acrylic and touch the surface of whatever I’m building. Instead of releasing the bead, I’ll hold it against the sculpture with the brush until it firms up. Then I slowly pull the brush away and get a string of acrylic. When the acrylic has set enough to hold the shape, I pull the brush away and quickly wipe it clean. The stretched bead should be firm enough to hold a point, but malleable enough to mold it into a talon shaped curve. After I’m satisfied with the look of the leg, I attach it to the body and build up the fleshy skin in between.
6. Now you can add some details. I add teeth, horns, and spikes, and build these flat on a form with white acrylic. When they’re set, I attach them with glue and acrylic. At this time I also use acrylic to add texture to the dragon, making skin folds, ribs, and a spiny ridge down the length of the body.
7. Finally it’s time to paint and finish. I use acrylic paint — metallic green because I like my dragons to have a scaly look — and I also put a UV gel top coat in the mouth to give it a wet appearance. And the rest is history.
Ready to slay this dragon? Let us know if this work inspires any new sculptures of your own, or prompts a fantasy first-timer to make an attempt. Feel free to share in our feedback section.