nail art,nail art gallery, nail art designs

January 24, 2012
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I got a note last week after posting the Bettle Burnout Nails asking what I meant by corpse nails.  Since I woke up a little early today (and was confident my doctor’s office staff had a good sense of humor) I decided to do a quick tutorial on how to sponge in this zombie-like manicure.  Same deal with the beetle nails, this is all about the light sponging and layering.  I started with a base of Essie Great Expectations in 3 coats (for a color like this, I don’t mind the extra work, and because it’s on the sheer side it’s a good match for this design) then used ZOYA Charity to sponge around the tips.

Essie Great Expectations

Couple of things to note here: first, you see those spots near the tip where there’s basically no Charity?  That’s because I had too much polish on my sponge and was picking up polish that I’d already put down.  You’re really doing yourself a huge favor by only putting a little bit of polish on the sponge (I’ll usually lift up the applicator and lightly touch the sponge to the stem of the brush) since it means you’ll have to correct less… but in this case I wasn’t super worried about those spots since I knew I’d be covering it up with the next color.  For each round of sponging you’re probably going to go over the nail a couple of times, so go light.  Second, get into the corners of the nail for this one: you want to foster the illusion that the blood and dirt would be creeping out from the nail bed and edges.  If you’re super committed to this you’d probably want to do this all the way around the nail bed, but I’m in a love-hate place with my cuticles lately and am trying to keep from digging any polish in near the top of my nail these days.

Anyway, next step!  Same idea, darker color: I used OPI I Brake For Manicures, which has a deep purply base and could be laid on heavily enough to look like dried and caked blood on the tips.  It doesn’t have to be perfect — you’re still going in with another round of sponging — but try to keep this second color a little bit below the first one so you’re letting the two create a decent gradient.

OPI I Brake For Manicures

After finishing the tips I went in a did a clear coat to help seal down those dark colors and ensure I didn’t pick any of it up for the final step; I used a cheapo Wet n Wild quick dry number that wound up bleeding the colors a little bit, but that’s ok (not what I intended, but whatever).  To wrap your dead nails up, go back in with your base color (remember, sheer is good for this!) and start working back over the nail to help round and smooth out any areas where you may have gone in too heavy with the darker colors.  You can really get lost in the layering of this, rolling from one color to another to do touchups, until you get it to where you want it.  Honestly I normally would’ve tinkered more with this but I had to get moving out the door and my nails HAD to be dry.

ZOYA Charity

Seal it with a good topcoat, get in with some nail polish remover to clean up the extra polish you left all over your fingers, moisturize, buff to a shine (or matte it up if you’d like) and you’re dead-and-done!  And yes, this one gets noticed a lot; one of the nurses today was all “guuuurl, those are CREEPY.”

Corpse Nails

dead nails

zombie nails

dead manicure

Don’t forget, less than a week left for the Winter Goodie Giveaway!  Still not gonna give a detailed list of what’s going in the winning haul (“What’s in the boooooooxxxx?!!!“) but it’ll be coming from this general area (plus a couple of other piles not pictured).  And yes, I’m in the middle of a wtf-do-I-do-with-all-this crisis when it comes to storing the nail polish; I started with the fridge and that quickly overflowed (now houses all my favorite/more expensive polishes) so I bought the two display racks, then those filled up…  My original goal was to keep everything color grouped but there’s just no way I can get them all in one place as I have things set up now.  Ack.

more polish

Categories: gradient, how to
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29 Responses

  1. these are so cool and creepy! awesome effect, this is great for halloween!

  2. Hannah says:

    Wow, that looks effective! I just have to ask, do you get brittle nails from doing all these nail designs?

  3. Samantha says:

    woah awesome look!

  4. Gottwinkies says:

    Hahahaaaa, you are making me think tonight ! Math and laughing about the zombie mani! I really like this mani-and to be honest, not gory at all! I love the colors together….maybe some dirt or nasty other specks?! lol!

  5. Ashesela says:

    Those nails are so crazy!! :D So creepy but cool!! XD

    P.S. I love that picture of the kitchen counter filled with polish, it was so fun to look at! XD (I love seeing polish collections ^_^)

  6. Jossie says:

    Super creative!!

  7. Those are the hottest damn zombie hands I’ve ever seen, that’s for sure! Love the effect, and the tutorial, and the Se7en reference. ; )

  8. Maria says:

    Hahaha, what a good moring laugh that was, creepy :)
    And about your growing stash – the next step is Helmer’s.

  9. rock-or-not says:

    WOw! So efficient!!
    I love it!

  10. myswagison says:

    I LOVE your blog! You are truly amazing!! Your blogs are so detailed and explanatory it’s almost like watching a video (in my mind lol). And I love these nails! You are a pro at the burn out look and these corpse nails set it off!

  11. nail crazy says:

    love your corpse nails, thanks for the tutorial :-D

  12. Kejal says:

    looks realll!! Nice idea though for halloween

  13. Thank you!
    Wow, that’s a lot of nail polish… I always thought I had many, then I started reading nail blogs and saw all these pictures of people’s collections.. I have somewhere between 350-400 now, I think. I’ve solved the problem of storing them with these lovely shelves my dad made for me: http://honmednaglarna.blogg.se/2011/november/utkast-nov-3-2011.html

    You can just make more shelves when they get full. Hopefully you won’t run out of walls… I also found this tutorial on how to make one yourself ;) Practical AND decorative ;)

  14. the nerd says:

    Thank you ladies! :-D

    Hannah, oddly my nails on this hand aren’t nearly as bad off as the nails on my left hand (which gets painted randomly and more heavily abused on the neck of a guitar) — I think something about always having a few layers of paint on keeps them pretty reinforced, and since it’s so dry I’m obsessively applying lotions, oils and treatments to try and keep my hands happy. But I bet if I left them naked for a couple of days I’d swiftly break and chip them all!

    Maria, I’ve been resisting those! I actually have some cabinets similar to Helmer’s that I store other art supplies in, but what trips me up most is only having this top-down view of everything so that you’re having to pick up, inspect, replace and repeat to find something. My dream was to have everything out and fully displayed so I could easily scan for the color/polish that I wanted… but obviously my greedy little hands overshot that mark! Do they make transparent Helmer’s with embedded LED lights? (did I just give away a million dollar idea?!)

    And thx Ms. Swag! I love the ladies that have the dedication to record and edit videos but that’s just where I’ve got to draw the line (unless someone starts shoving more hours into the day) so try to be as descriptive as I can when explaining how I made some of these. It helps that you’ve got a great imagination, and I for one appreciate it!

    honmednaglarna, those shelves your dad made are amazing! Can I borrow him? That’s pretty much the idea I had in my head… I think I may just have to bite the bullet this summer and make it happen. Because lordy knows I need another project. ;-)

  15. Helga says:

    Wow these are really cool, and pretty! :D

  16. Maria says:

    LOL I’m still resisting the Helmer’s too – and when you start producing those acrylic cabinets, I’m in. Honestly the loss of display is holding me back too, but I thought of giving my colors a number et the top, and of course the same number on my swatch sticks, because most of the time I look at those, unless I for sure know what color/s I’m going to use, and then it’s nice to see: – ah there you are, my little polish :)
    Ikea also makes shelves to put frames on “Ribba”, easy to mount on the wall, but I like to have mine in the dark. I have a pull-out shelf with two acrylic step racks, totally 120 btls., but of course that is too little space for my polish greed…
    Sorry for a long comment ;)

  17. the nerd says:

    Pft, the longer the better! :-D I was thinking about the color dots too but I don’t know if that would even be representative enough (I don’t know about you but I’m highly visual) — plus there’s something super gratifying about seeing a wall full of rainbow, you know? I’m currently working on buying my house (should know one way or the other by June) so if I get it I’m thinking about turning one of the walls that doesn’t get any direct sunlight into an open display. Like maybe some of those floating shelves (where you don’t see any anchoring, it’s just like a plank sticking out of the wall) but you really only need them to be like a couple of inches deep, so buying the foot-wide standard household ones feels like a little overkill.

    And of course any solution needs to be able to scale up because who are we kidding, there WILL be more polish. ;-)

  18. angie says:

    Uh…is it weird I like the way these nails look?? lol

  19. Yeah, I wish. I’m actually in need of two more shelves myself, and I’ve been begging my dad to make more of them since summer, but he always forgets when I’m home…

  20. Maria says:

    Good, I cannot find an email address for you, so I reply here :)
    I didn’t mean a color dot but an unique number for each polist written on top of the bottle matching the number on it’s swatch stick or nail wheel.
    I’m very visual too, and you are absolutely right about the super gratifying feeling it is to look at the polishes, preferably on the acrylic racks that I have (also shown on my blog), I simply love them, but they are expensive if they have to go to Denmark. I have 2, but that is “only” room for 120 polishes.
    The floating shelves are exactly what the Ikea “Ribba” are, very cheap, comes in 3 differen colors, but I’ don’t know if you can buy them in the US. they come in different lenghts, you can see them here: http://www.ikea.com/dk/da/catalog/products/50152595/

  21. Liz says:

    Those. Look. AMAZEBALLS. Must give them a try!

  22. Miriam says:

    Really creepy but sooo awesome! Need to try them some time!

  23. Ashley says:

    What kind of sponge do you use?

    • the nerd says:

      It’s just one of those triangular makeup sponges you get at the drugstore — easy peasy and cheap enough to ruin! There’s a tutorial on the Quick How To section if you want to check it out, but I got challenged to do another one so will be doing one…. soonish again I guess? I don’t know, I’m way behind at this point and going a little batty, but my heart’s definitely in it!

  24. the nerd says:

    Thank you ladies! It’s a fun look, try it out!

  25. Audrey says:

    I’ve been looking for Essie Great Expectations everywhere but I can’t seem to find it. Do you have any substitutions that would work in place of it?

    Thanks :)
    Btw these are amazing.

  26. karissa says:

    i want to learn how to do this. And get rewally good at it lol

  1. [...] the look to ‘corpse beauty,’ a trend I’ve seen gaining new life (ironic, I know) on blogs, though I didn’t exactly hit the nail on its head. The girls don’t look dead – [...]

  2. [...] I likened the look to ‘corpse beauty,’ a trend I’ve seen gaining new life (ironic, I know) on blogs, though I didn’t exactly hit the nail on its head. The girls don’t look dead – they just look [...]

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