Saturday, 13 April 2013

Big Cat Nails!

I'm so excited about this post, but dreading how long it's going to take... Just a warning, this is going to be A LOT longer than my usual tutorials, because it involves such intricate designs. There will also be lots and lots of photos, but I guess that's not a bad thing! Anyway, I've been planning this manicure for a very long time, ever since I first created my Cat's Eyes nails. As the old saying goes, practise makes perfect, and I think I've come a long way since I first attempted this design.

I know I normally list all the equipment I use, but this would honestly take forever. Instead, I'm just going to say that I used about 17 polishes, 2 nail art pens, and two nail art brushes. In my step-by-step photos I will try and mention each colour I used, but apologies in advance for anything I miss! Anyway, here's where I found my inspiration. Good old Google images! I found lovely detailed photographs of a lion, a leopard, a snow leopard, a tiger and a panther.
I decided to use the panther for my little finger, as there's not as much to it. Initially I painted it black as you will see throughout the tutorial, however I eventually realised that it would work best in a dark grey with added black details.
I applied the bases, using Fearne 'Lemon Drizzle' matte yellow topped with Missguided 'Misslead' shimmery yellow for my thumb, Models Own 'Nude Beige' topped with shimmery gold for my index finger, matte white for my middle finger, 'Fuzzy Peach' topped with Fearne 'Burnt Out' (a sparkly orange) for my ring finger, and then black (eventually swapped to Barry M 'Grey') for my little finger.
Once dry, I started adding the details. For my thumb, the lion, I used 'Fuzzy Peach' to shape around as the mane. I did this using a fine paint brush, and then added further details using the sparkly orange. For my leopard, I blobbed on a brown/purple colour for the beginnings of leopard print, and did the same for my snow leopard using grey. I then added white highlights for the eyes and snouts of my lion and tiger, and used Models Own 'Nude Beige' for these sections of my leopard. 
I then started adding the black details, using my trusty Models Own black nail art pen. I added a few more details to my lion's mane, making sure that I didn't squeeze too hard on the bottle and cause any casualties! My nail art pens are old faithfuls, and I use them so regularly that I know exactly the amount of pressure to apply and the speed of the flow. If you don't have nail art pens, or don't trust yourself with them, then a fine paint brush and black polish will work just as well!
I added further detail to my leopard print, bordering the original dots and then adding a few more little black dots. I discovered that small, tight leopard print looks best when doing my Pink Leopard Print Nails, so I made sure that I did this throughout.
I did the same for my snow leopard, ensuring that I shaped around the edge of my nail and left enough room for the cat's face. I could already tell that the snow leopard was going to end up being the prettiest cat; black and grey on clean white looks so effective!
Using the same black nail art pen, I added some tiger stripes, along with a few little 'splodges'. I decided  to make these stripes a little bit haphazard, rather than keeping them very structured as I did in my Animal Print Nails.
I then added blue or green dots for eyes, using Models Own 'Feeling Blue' and 'Jade Stone'. Obviously the panther was later wiped away and begun again in grey, but I still kept blue for the eyes. I knew that the tiger would look best with green because it contrasts well with orange, and the same for the snow leopard.
Now it's time for some more black detailing! I outlined the eyes in almond shapes, leaving enough space to fill in with white. I then added a little nose and whisker dots.
I did the same for my snow leopard. As you can see, the eyes look a little bit wonky, but you can hardly tell with the finished product! It's so hard to make everything perfectly symmetrical in nail art, but you can always cover up mistakes. 
My leopard ended up very cross-eyed, and you can tell that I squeezed a bit too hard on my nail art pen when outlining his eyes! Never mind...
I finally added more black details to my tiger, who is probably the most symmetrical cat! As you can see, I extended lines slightly beyond the noses.
Finally I added white to the eyes, and black dots for pupils. I used my finest paint brush and shimmery gold to add highlights to my lion, making for a more textured fur. I added the same final details to my other cats, using the shimmery gold again for the tiger. For the leopard I added further white highlights to the 'eyebrows', and did the same in grey for the snow leopard. I also took darker shades of the eye colours - No.7 'Totally Teal' and Rimmel 'Azure' -  and carefully outlined the irises, however you can hardly see this in the photos! My little panther nail was constructed in basically the same way as the other cats; grey base, white muzzle, blue eyes, and black details. I always seem to neglect my little nail, but it's just so small that the designs never look as good.
So there we go, Big Cat Nails! This manicure took sooooo long but I am really pleased with the results. I think this might be my favourite design yet... Let me know what you think! Has anyone else tried a design like this before? 
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