How-To: Detailed Negative Space Nail Art

by Sigourney Nuñez | July 14, 2016

Symmetry can be inherently attractive to the human eye and the placement of shapes and line work will make or break a set, says nail tech Halley Fortenberry of Fort Walton Beach, Fla. “It’s all about symmetry— the position of shapes determines how even everything else will look.” She’s only been doing nails professionally since 2014, but Fortenberry is known on Instagram for executing clean and evenly spaced handpainted line work. A self-taught artist by nature, she can easily adapt to any medium but when it comes to nail art, she prefers using gel with a thicker consistency because it stays in place. “I make sure to have the perfect amount of product on the brush for what I am trying to accomplish. It really comes with practice but it helps to hold the brush perpendicularly to the nail to get even and thin lines,” she says.

1. Start with a sculpted clear nail enhancement. With a fine detail brush and Akzéntz Gel Play in the color White Paint, begin in the center of the nail by painting two leaf shapes, one above the other, and outlining the top shape. Flash cure to secure the line work.

2. Paint two more leaf shapes on either side of the center leaf shape. Flash cure to secure the line work.

3. With a steady hand and very little product on the brush, paint a line connecting the outer leaf shape to the edge of the nail, then along the edge and back toward the center to create a spiral triangle. Repeat on the opposite side. Flash cure to secure the line work.

4. Now paint a line starting at the corner of (but not touching) the two center leaf shapes to the edge of the nail, along the edge, and back towards the center to create another spiral triangle. Repeat on the opposite side. Flash cure to secure the line work.

5. Paint circular spirals above the line work done in step 4, making sure not to let them connect with previously painted lines. Flash cure to secure the line work.

6. Add dots in the empty spaces and cure in an LED lamp for 30 seconds.

7. Fill in the outline at the top of the nail with a mixture of Gelly Fit gel-polish in GG02 and GG04 from Sarah Elmaz’s Get Buffed Collection. Cure in an LED lamp for 30 seconds.

8. Apply a coat of Akzéntz Shine On! Cure, and embellish the nail as desired.

Follow Fortenberry on Instagram: @missexclusivenails.

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