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January 13, 2013
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With Mardi Gras fast approaching (heck, it’s really sort of already here — Krewe of Nyx just had their ball last night), it’s time to start playing with the Carnival-themed manicures!  The lovely folks over at halloweencostumes.com sent me a pair of harlequin shoes for inspiration (seriously, how cute are these?!  I love that they sell shoes!) — I’m in the Krewe of Muses, the original all-female krewe, and our “thing” is to decorate shoes to hand off to lucky parade goers during the ride on Thursday night, making these super-fun shoes right up my alley — so I thought to do a quick tutorial on how to create the harlequin pattern.

harlequin pattern
The harlequin pattern is sort of a Carnival mainstay, and on first glance fairly basic; where you may tend to get caught up is thinking that it’s just a checkerboard tipped on its side.  It’s not.  A checkerboard ratio for the square segments is 1:1, while the harlequin pattern is 1:2 — so the height of the diamond pattern is 2x as long as the width.  When using the line method it’s really easy to lose sight of this, and you’ll often end up with a sideways checkerboard instead, so be sure to make your lines narrowly angled.

Method One: Line/Grid Work

If you want to be really detailed-neatnick about this, you can dot out the side of your fingernails with equally spaced dots as a sort of guide for painting in the lines for the pattern — 1 unit across the width, 2 units wide down the side.  This method is the easiest/fastest, BUT be mindful that you’ll probably need to do a bit of touch-up work at the end, so choose a group of opaque polishes for this (that’s where I failed: my color choices were mostly jellyish, which made for trouble during the shape correction, and led to method two).

nail art harlequin

1.  Using your thinest striper brush and either a good opaque nail polish or acrylic paint, add a set of spaced lines across your nail at a horizontal angle.

2.  Go back over those nails and add the same lines going in the opposite direction — if you start at the top/bottom of your nail, you can use the points where your original lines end as a guide.

3.  Fill in the diamonds you’ve created in rows, skipping a row as you work down the nail, and then use a detail brush to go in and clean up any lines that may have gone wrong.

Method Two: Freehand

I admit, this is my preferred method.  The first ends up making a more chunky sort of pattern (depending on how fine your striper brush is), and we all know I’m nutso for detail.  The drawback is that you’ve gotta be fairly confident with keeping things in a straight line as it’s really easy for the rows to start falling or growing/shrinking in one direction or another.

nail art tutorial

1.  Taking a page from the Acutely Rainbowed Grey Nails, start with painting in some triangles side-by-side in as neat of a row as you can get away with.

2.  Now introduce a second row of the same triangles, but invert them so that their butts are touching the bottom of the row you just made, creating a diamond out of the two.

3.  Repeat til you’ve filled up the whole nail.

Voila, you’re all done!  I think the only way you’re going to get PERFECT lines is to grid it all out and use something like the DIY nail decal technique to paint off-nail… or just use a stamper.  ;)

I picked some Mardi Gras colors to feature on this mani, using (from pinky to index) nubar Lime Green, ZOYA Perrie, nubar Hot Yellow and nubar Hot Green.

Mardi Gras shoes

Mardi Gras Harlequin Nails

nailart how to

harlequin shoes

nail art pattern

nail art design

And don’t forget to check out halloweencostumes.com for more fun Mardi Gras costume items (even if you can’t make it to NOLA this year, you can always celebrate with your friends, wherever you are come Fat Tuesday) — laissez les bons temps rouler!

9 Responses

  1. Kayla says:

    I LOVE this! I need to try something festive, and this just might be it… So thanks!

    • admin says:

      Anytime Kayla! I know I’m a little obsessive w/ the precision of stuff — to a completely wacky degree — but honestly if you just have fun with it I’m sure nobody would ever notice a few wonked out lines here and there… and it’s a super fun effect with a bright color underneath (or even a gradient!!!).

      • Kayla says:

        I definetley need to think outside of the box for some of these. They are great!!! I even had an odd request…
        Do you think you can try to create an aquarium design??? I just love fish! Such a cool decoration, so i figured, why not on your nails?!?!? And you don’t even have to feed them!!!

  2. Apoorva says:

    Wow!! These are sooo WOW! Love the shoes..!!

  3. Fingers says:

    LOVE those shoes!!!! This is awesome!

  4. typhoid_Holli says:

    I love those shoes!! I think I’ll try option one. :0)

  5. Arina George says:

    Wow ! all the nail arts are amazing.Would like to share the blog with my friends…:)

  6. nail crazy says:

    cool shoes, love the nails too, of course :D

  7. Mary says:

    tried theses… they did not work any suggestions?

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