Learning the stamping nail art technique will open up the number of designs you can do. There are hundreds of image plates and thousands of different designs to choose from. This means you can design your nails for any occasion or just for fun.
And you are not limited to just one stamped design per nail. You can stamp one nail many times with different designs or the same design multiple times using different colors.
You can stamp on top a plain coat of color, enhance it with rhinestones or combine it with other techniques like:
- Homemade nail decals
When selecting a color for your design keep in mind that you will barely see a light stamped color on a light main color. Stamping works best when you use contrasting colors.
What's in this article
- 1 Stamping Equipment
- 2 The basic steps:
- 2.1 Set Up Before You Start Stamping
- 2.2 Practice Before You Attempt To Stamp On Your Nails
- 2.3 Applying A Clear Topcoat To Your Main Color
- 2.4 Applying Polish To Your Design
- 2.5 Removing the excess polish from your image
- 2.6 Getting the image from the plate to your stamp
- 2.7 Lining up the image and transferring it to your nail
- 2.8 So You Have The Design On Your Nail And Don’t Like The Result? What Now…
- 2.9 Cleaning Up Before You Stamp Your Next Nail
- 2.10 Protecting Your Design Without Smudging It
- 3 Adding A Bit More…
|For this technique you will need to purchase some equipment. You will need an image plate, a stamp and a scraper. Amazon sells a lot of different brands and is easily accessible to most people. Some of the suppliers you can choose your stamping equipment from are:
If you are just starting out, then I highly recommend that you buy a kit. Look for one that comes with at least one image plate, a stamp, scraper and polish. This means you can start stamping as soon as it arrives.
When you get your stamping equipment check the image plates. Some brands will have a piece of plastic on the top of them to protect the plates. You will need to remove the plastic before you can use them. Bundle Monsters come with blue protective plastic on them. Konad do not as they are individually package.
Both of Konad and Bundle Monster (newer plates) also have a coating on the back of the plate. Leave this on – this protects you from the sharp metal edge.
There are two types of scrapers – Metal and plastic available. Some people end up using a plastic card like a credit card instead of a metal one.
The metal ones tend to end up scratching the image plate. This won’t affect the image, but the plate may end up looking a little worse for wear. If you like your things to look new for as long as possible, then a plastic scraper is what you will want.
Polishes For Stamping
Some suppliers recommend that you buy a stamping nail polish. This is a good idea if you are just starting out so you can get an idea of the consistency of them.
But a normal polish will work just as well if has excellent coverage. What I mean by this is a polish that covers with just one coat. Just avoid ones that are quick drying as these will dry on the image plate before you have time to pick them up with the stamp.
Your metallic and holographic polishes will also work. However, your glitter polishes won’t – the glitter will stick to the plate.
If you are unsure whether a particular polish will work – test it out by stamping it onto a piece of paper.
The basic steps:
- Apply your base coat
- Apply the main color that your stamp will go over
- Apply a clear topcoat
- Stamp the image
- Apply polish to the image
- Scrape polish off
- Pick image up with stamp
- Transfer image to nail
- Protect the image with a topcoat.
One of the main points to stamping is to ensure that the polish doesn’t dry. So this means all the steps for stamping the image need to be done fairly quickly. If they are not, then the image dries it won’t transfer to your nail properly.
There are things that may go wrong during the stamping stage. And these usually result in either a patchy looking design or only parts of your design transferring to the stamp or to your nail. I’ve tried to list these below for you.
If you would like to see a video of the stamping nail art technique then check this out.
Set Up Before You Start Stamping
Set yourself up so that you have the image plate on top of a paper towel and the stamp and scraper within easy reach.
Placing the image plate on top of a paper towel means you can use this to clean the scraper after you have removed the polish off the image.
If the stamp and scraper are nearby you won’t fumble around getting them when they are needed. This means you will be able to do each step fairly quickly. Being able to do this means the polish will not have time to dry before you transfer it onto your nail.
You will also need some nail polish remover (preferably Acetone) and a Q-Tip (cotton bud) to clean the image plate and scraper in between stamps.
This is what my usual set up looks like.
Practice Before You Attempt To Stamp On Your Nails
There is definitely an art to stamping. And while the steps look easy enough, I highly recommend you practice a little before attempting to stamp your nails. You can do this with an old thick polish and a piece of paper at first.
Stamping can be a little tricky while you are learning it. I won’t kid you – you may practice for hours before it all falls into place.
You will “get” the stamping nail art technique so don’t be disheartened – just keep practicing.
Applying A Clear Topcoat To Your Main Color
This is not a mandatory step, but this will make it easier to remove a design if you don’t like the way it looks on your nail…
Without having to remove and reapply your main color.
You can use quick-dry topcoat quick-drying agent. However, just make sure it doesn’t dry with an oily residue. Any oil will prevent the stamped image from transferring to your nail properly.
The topcoat needs to be dry before you start stamping on it.
Applying Polish To Your Design
When you first start out you should aim to cover your selected design all in one go if you can. You want to apply enough polish so it doesn’t dry out before you have time to scrape the excess off.
A sign that the polish is drying out is you find that you are only picking up part of the design on the stamp. (This could also be you have not been quick enough to pick the design up with the stamp).
Once you have applied your polish don’t worry about closing the lid of your polish. This takes time and gives the polish time to dry out. You want to set your brush down in the bottle and then grab your scraper.
As you practice, you will learn that you can drag the polish over the image with your scraper. So you may end up applying a generous amount of polish to one side of the design and then scraping it over the rest of it. However, when you are starting – just try to cover the whole design.
If you like, you can add different colors to the plate at this step. This will give you a multi colored design.
When positioning your image plate think about the direction that you will be scraping the polish off. If you are scraping from left to right, you want to have the design on the right hand side. So that the excess polish is scraped off the side of the image.
Image plate with polish applied
Removing the excess polish from your image
You need to angle your scraper when removing the polish. Somewhere between 30 and 60 degrees. (This is the angle that is formed between the image plate and the scraper.)
Once you have your scraper positioned you need to scrape in one direction off the plate and onto the paper towel. (This will clean the scraper for you and set it up ready for the next stamp.)
I usually scrape from left to right because I’m right handed. However, see what works best for you. It may be right to left or from top to bottom works better for you.
You only need a medium pressure when scraping. The idea is to remove the polish from the image plate, but to leave it in the grooves that form the image.
Like the previous step – you want to pick up your stamp fast. The polish on the plate is thinner now and it will dry very quickly.
Polish scraped off and cleaned at the same time
Do you have problems with this step?
If you have too much pressure, you will end up removing polish from the grooves. Then when you stamp the image, the lines will look patchy. One line may have good color and another very light. If you have trouble with this step try to change the pressure, starting with a lighter touch first.
The other problem with this step is when only some of the design transfers to your stamp. This may be due to:
- stamp or image plate still being wet with nail polish remover
- your polish was spread too thinly
- you took to long picking up the image and it dried on the image plate
- the image plate needs cleaning
Getting the image from the plate to your stamp
To pick the design up, roll the stamp across it from one side to the other. Again, you should use a medium pressure. Too much pressure and the lines of your image will not be crisp.
For me, the key to this step was to roll the stamp in the opposite direction to the way I scraped. I was scraping left to right and then rolling the stamp the same way (left to right). When I started rolling right to left all my problems with this step were solved.
Sometimes the issue with this step is not you. It could be with the the stamp.
Sometimes they can be too slippery to pick up the image. The way to fix this is to file the stamp to “rough up” the surface up a little. You can use a nail file for this or the roughest part of a nail buffer. Just be gentle when doing this. You don’t want to file the stamp away. You are only trying to remove the part of it that is slippery.
Lining up the image and transferring it to your nail
You will have a little time (than the previous steps) to check you’ve got a good image on your stamp, line it up with your nail and then stamp it. However, don’t waste too much time here. If the image dries on the stamp, it won’t transfer to your nail.
The action for putting the design onto your nail is a rolling motion using a medium pressure. (If you press too hard it will distort your image.) You’ll roll the stamp from one side of your nail to the other.
For me this is a two-part step because the tips of my nails get missed if I just roll once. My nails grow in a downward direction and I tend to roll the stamp across the top/middle of my nail. This means the bottom of the image doesn’t transfer to the tips of my nail. To solve this – I first roll from one side of my nail to the other. Then I roll the stamp down to the tip of my nail and back to the other side.
Lining the image up can be a little tricky. You may have to experiment a little with this to see what works for you.
For me, I’ve found the best way is to have the stamp upside down so I can see the image. I make sure it is orientated the way I want. Then I place a part of the stamp that does not have the image on it against the skin to the side of my nail. When doing this, I’m trying to line it up so when I roll it across my nail the image ends up where I want it.
Speed is another factor here. If the design is small you may find it transfer better if you roll quickly. And if the design is big then rolling slowly will transfer it better.
You can also remove parts of the design from the stamp at this stage. Just use a Q-Tip (cotton bud) dipped in remover.
Check the image before you stamp. You want to see all of it. If some of it is missing. Remove it with nail polish remover and start again.
Make sure the design is orientated the right way, line it up, then roll across your nail.
So You Have The Design On Your Nail And Don’t Like The Result? What Now…
If you don’t like the design once it’s on your nail, then you can remove it. And you’ll be happy you put the topcoat on before starting when this happens.
Dip a Q-Tip (cotton bud) in nail polish remover and then lightly rub over the image. The key for this is not to have it dripping in remover. You want just it damp enough to so you can lightly rub the image out.
Cleaning Up Before You Stamp Your Next Nail
If you are happy with the result, then you need to clean the image plate and stamp, so they are ready for the following one.
Do this with nail polish remover and a Q-Tip (cotton bud). Use an acetone one – non-acetone doesn’t work that great for this job. Just be careful how you handle it – you don’t want to ruin any nails that you have already done.
Make sure your image plate and stamp is dry before you use them again. Your design will not look very good if the polish mixes with the nail polish remover.
Some nail polish removers contain moisturizing agents, and these can be oily. Using ones like this means you won’t be able to get a good crisp image on the stamp. If you have a lint-free cloth, you can use this to remove this. This will also help with drying them both.
Protecting Your Design Without Smudging It
||After getting all of the previous steps right, you still need to apply a topcoat on to protect your design. The problem with this step is that some topcoats will smudge your design. This is especially true if you are using a stamping polish.
So there are a couple of ways to avoid this. One is to use a special stamping topcoat – Konad sells one. The other is all about the way you apply your topcoat.
Wait until your stamped design is dry. Then float the topcoat over the design. This is where you apply the topcoat without dragging the brush over the nail. Also avoid going over the same part on the image twice. It doesn’t matter if you cover your entire nail in one go. You can apply another topcoat later if you need to.
I’ve found that Seche Vite topcoat works okay over Konad stamped designs. And Orly Multi-Layer Quick-Dry Topcoat and O.P.I. Topcoat smudge my designs if I don’t float the topcoat.
Adding A Bit More…
||The stamping nail art technique works well with other methods as well.
Once you have your design protected you can add more to it if you like with rhinestones, dots or glitter. You can even color in between the lines.
I’ve seen rhinestones in the centre of flowers, and dots added to lace patterns.