Nail Art Tutorial: Owl Nails

Nail Art Tutorial Owl NailsIt has been a long time since I did freehand nail art with eyes (hehe), and you know what? I missed it so much! (There’s something really fun about looking at your nails and having them look back at you. Or maybe that’s just me.)

As you know, I’m on Pinterest (it’s so addictive!), and the minute I saw these cute little owls, I knew I had to recreate them on my nails. It was exactly the inspiration I needed to get cracking! Release the Kraken! (Felt like saying that.)

Whether it’s nail art, lunch bags, necklaces, or artwork, I have a thing for owls!

So, for today’s post, I have an Owl Nail Art Tutorial for you with step-by-step written instructions and photos.

Although I used similar colours like in the original design I was inspired by, mine turned out slightly different because of my nail-painting style. Also, I have narrower nail beds. But, this just shows you that you can recreate any look, even if your nails are small. Where there’s a will, there’s a way! 😉

I think it’s important to remember that when recreating a look, it doesn’t have to be an exact replica of the original. It’s fun to keep the general vibe of the design, but to still be comfortable with putting your own spin on it.

Owl Nail Art Swatches

All swatches have:

Sunlight Photos

Nail Art Tutorial Owl Nails

Owl Nail Tutorial

Owl Manicure Nail Art

Nail Art Tutorial Owl Nails Owls

Owls Nails Nail Art Manicure

Owl Nails Tutorial

Natural Light Photos

Owl Nails Nail-Art Tutorial

Owls Nails Nail Art Tutorial

Owl Nail Tutorial

Owl Manicure Nail Art Nails

Nail Art Owl Nails Swatches

Owl Nails Nail-Art Tutorial Step by Step Instructions

Flash Photos

Owls Nails

See those polka dots? Those were on the belly of my cute owl snack bag that I showed on here earlier.

Remember this owl bag I showed in an old Smorgasbord Sundays post? That’s the belly I used. 😉

Owl Bag

Owl Nail Art Tutorial

Owls Nails Nail Art

Owl Nails Nail Art

Nail Art Owl Nails Tutorial

Owl Nail Art

*~* Owl Nail Art Tutorial *~*

What I Used:

Owl Nails Nail Art Tutorial

  1. OPI Nail Envy Nail Strengthener (Used as a base coat)
  2. Deborah Lippmann Fade to Black (Provided by PR)
  3. OPI A-Piers to Be Tan (Provided by PR)
  4. OPI Do You Lilac It?
  5. China Glaze Too Yacht to Handle
  6. Nicole by OPI Hit the Lights (Provided by PR)
  7. China Glaze Snow
  8. Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat
  9. Piece of foil
  10. Daniel Stone Art Tool 5
  11. Daniel Stone Art Tool 2
  12. Nail Art Brush

Step 1: Prepare Your Tools/Polishes & Apply a Base Coat

Slightly unscrew your nail-polish bottles, and get all your supplies ready so you’re not scrambling around. Plus you don’t want to be struggling to open a bottle when your nails are wet.

Step 2: Paint the Base Colour of Your Little Owls

Choose what colour you’d like the base of your owls to be. I went with the most recent brown I wore, but dare to get really creative. They’re your nails, so, heck, if you want neon-pink owls or navy-blue owls, go for it!

I used OPI A-Piers to Be Tan from the OPI San Francisco Collection coming out on August 7, 2013.

Owl Nail Nail Art Tutorial Step 2

2 coats of OPI A-Piers to Be Tan

Step 3: Start the ‘Eye Mask’

Apply a little polish onto your piece of foil. You’ll be using that foil as a palette. Alternatively, you can use a plastic bag, plastic wrap, etc. Just don’t use paper because polish can leak through more easily and even absorb the product.

Using the biggest dotting tool you have, apply two dots beside each other like eyes. Then, connect them.

If you don’t have a dotting tool, you could try using the end of an old makeup brush handle, but make sure it’s one that isn’t very expensive. You could even buy a cheap brush from the Dollar Store, just so you can use the end of the brush handle for this.

Allow about 5-10 minutes for this to slightly dry. It doesn’t have to be 100% dry, but you just don’t want to be working on a very-wet manicure.

Tip: Before creating each dot, dip your dotting tool to pick up more polish. If you don’t re-dip in between dots, you may give your owl two eyes that are different sizes. Then again, like humans, animals aren’t 100% symmetrical. 😉

Owl Nail Nail Art Tutorial Step 3

Step 4: Add Wings & The Whites of the Eyes

Okay, so this is really 2 steps combined into one. I forgot to take separate photos because I was really excited about how it was coming along! (Ever get that way? You’re painting your nails, and you just get so ‘in the zone’ that you forget other things? I can be like that! Earth to Mary! Come in! The nail-polish aliens are coming to abduct you!)

Using the same method as above, apply the whites to the inside of the ‘eye masks’ you just created. You may want to use a smaller dotting tool if you have one. If you don’t, just apply less pressure, and the dots will be smaller.

For the wings, I used a nail-art brush to paint the vertical lines on either side of my little owlies!

This part may get messy. As you can see, I got some polish on the cuticle of my middle finger. When you wash your hands and take a shower after everything is dry, it’ll come off naturally. Yes, you could use polish remover to clean up now, but I don’t really like cleaning up (unless I do messy nail stamping), so I left it.

In my manicure photos above, you’ll see that some have messy cuticles, and some have less. The ones that have less were taken after washing my hands. And after taking a shower, all of it came off, but I already took enough photos for this post, so I didn’t bother snapping more.

Owl Nail Nail Art Tutorial Step 4

Step 5: Allow Your Owls to Tap Dance (or Break Dance)

Using your dotting tool dipped into a yellow polish (or whatever colour you want those pedal pushers to be), apply half a dot to the bottom of each nail. Try not to apply the full dot, so you give the illusion of little feet.

Also, try to keep the dots spaced apart for the best effect. (For my left thumb, as seen above, at first, I made the dots connect. To fix something like that, you can just take your dotting tool at the end and add some brown or base colour in between to separate the feet.)

I used Nicole by OPI Hit the Lights, the bright yellow from the Nicole by OPI Selena Gomez Collection. (Canadians, if you enter my giveaway by Friday June 7, you could win the entire 14-bottle Nicole by OPI Selena Gomez Collection!)

Owl Nail Nail Art Tutorial Step 5

Step 6: Beak it!

Using a small dotting tool, a toothpick, or a bobby pin, create the beaks.

If you have a steady hand, maybe you could use a small brush and paint the triangle. I couldn’t find any small nail brushes lying around, and my hands are shaky, so I used a small dotting tool to do the beaks.

My technique was to first create 2 connecting dots and then joined them to one dot directly underneath. This created a rough triangle.

Owl Nail Nail Art Tutorial Step 6

Step 7: Ruffle Your Owls Feathers!

To create the “V”s to mimic feathers, I took my small dotting tool to create 2 dots (not connected). Then, I dragged my dotting tool downwards to connect them in a “V” or heart shape.

My nails are narrow, so I don’t have a lot of space to work with. I found that 3 “V”s was all I could fit on each nail. And, since my pinkie finger is so small, I had to ‘cheat’ and apply a dot for the 3rd feather.

If drawing “V”s seems like too much work, you could just do very tiny dots, and it would achieve an effect that would still look like feathers.

Owl Nail Nail Art Tutorial Step 7

Step 8: Give Your Owlies Sight! (Let Them See Their Maker!)

All Eyes on Me! (Sorry, I felt that a 2Pac reference was necessary. Yes, owl nail art and 2Pac. I went there!)

Using your small dotting tool dipped into black polish, apply the pupils. I had them all staring crazy because that’s what makes me happy. Feel free to apply the pupils more to the side of the whites. You could make them looking left, right, up, down, or at each other. Do what makes you smile!

Now, this is really important! Make sure that you wait as long as possible before you apply a clear top coat to seal everything in. If you are impatient at this point, and slick on a top coat too early, you will smear the design, and all your hard work will be ruined. Don’t do that now. You’ve come so far!

I was painting my nails while watching a movie, so I literally waited an hour before I put a top coat on! (I wanted to be safe rather than sorry. Plus when I made all those dots, the polish was really thick, so I didn’t want to ruin the eyes. They did smear just a little bit, but not as badly if I hadn’t waited.)

Owl Nail Nail Art Tutorial Step 8

Step 9: Apply a Top Coat

Will you be sporting these freehand owls? What was the last nail-art design you did yourself? Do you ever get nail art done professionally? (I don’t. I like challenging myself to paint designs I like to recreate or that I haven’t seen.)

Edit: Yay! It’s always nice when companies notice your nail art! 🙂

Bundle Monster Swatch And Learn


39 thoughts on “Nail Art Tutorial: Owl Nails

  1. POW Nails

    This is a great tutorial and the end result is so cute!
    I know exactly what you mean about not stopping to take a picture for each stage, it’s basically why I stopped doing tutorials because I’d be half way through and suddenly think, “oh I added loads of things ,oops”

    My main problem with nail art at the moment, and the reason I don’t do as much art as I’d like for my blog is SMUDGES. As you describe, I tend to do a lot of work with a dotting tool and even if you wait a whole hour you’re bound to squish something and get rid of all the crispness.
    I’ve been thinking of trying out one of those fixing sprays or droppers that you can get, but I haven’t heard great things about those either…
    POW Nails recently posted: The POW Nails Haul: May

    1. Jess

      I had the same problem you did when I started doing nail art. I email one of my favourite bloggers who always does FLAWLESS nail art and she gave me a great tip: load up enough topcoat (SV was her favourite) so that your brush never actually touches the nail. It’s the brush touching the nail that tends to cause smudges. That tip really helped me! Good luck!

    2. Mary S. Post author

      Hey POW Nails!

      Thank you so much! I really missed doing freehand nail art, and I also missed doing tutorials. They’re fun for me, but also very challenging. There’s something about pushing myself to recreate a design that’s very exciting!

      I’m curious about fixing sprays, too! Please let me know how they work for you after you’ve tried them. I wish that Seche Vite could have a spray top coat that dried just as fast as Seche Vite. That would totally revolutionize the nail industry!

    3. sarah

      These are so so so cute!!!! I love owls also 🙂 I have you on Google + so if I recreate these I will definitely tag you

  2. Norma

    These are so cute!! I suck at nail art and don’t have the patience so I won’t be trying this myself but love the post!

    1. Mary S. Post author

      Hey Norma!

      Thanks for appreciating the hard work I put into this.

      Aww, I bet you don’t suck at nail art. There’s definitely a learning curve, but once you get past it, you’ll seriously want to ONLY wear nail art. Haha, I felt like that before, but now I can also appreciate just a simple (non-nail-art) manicure. 🙂

    1. Mary S. Post author

      Hey Lizzy!

      Thanks! I’ve been wearing them since Saturday, I believe, and it’ll be a sad day when I have to remove them. Thankfully, I have an idea for a future nail-art tutorial, so stay tuned!

  3. Johanne

    These are so adorable! I saw your post earlier today, and I just knew I had to try it out. So now I’ve got these cute beige, pink, yellow and purple owls on my nails, and I LOVE IT! Thank you for a fabulous and easy tutorial 🙂

    1. Mary S. Post author

      Hey Johanne!

      Wow, that’s extremely flattering! 🙂 Thanks for letting me know.

      Do you have a Facebook account? If so, feel free to post it on my Facebook wall. I’m sure other people would also love your handiwork!

  4. Tanya

    These are so cute! I’m a beginner at nail art so the last thing I did was this tri color thing with liquid sands. I’m sure there’s a name for it that I don’t know, but you paint each 1/3 of your nail a different color. I did get a compliment on it from a starnger so I must’ve done ok :). But now I’m ready to advance my skills and this is the type of inspiration I need, so thank you and I’m off to go paint now ;).

    1. Mary S. Post author

      Hey Yolennie!

      Thank you! 🙂 I was very inspired by the photo I saw on Pinterest and then pinned onto my own board. Plus my love of owls should’ve made me look for the book even sooner!

    1. Mary S. Post author

      Hey Precious Pearl!

      Thank you so much! Glad that you liked them and that they were recognizable as owls. (One of my co-workers said that they looked like parrots…haha!)

  5. Jess

    Although A-Piers to Be Tan is totally not my speed colour-wise, it is definitely the perfect base colour for this nail art! So cute!

    1. Mary S. Post author

      Hey Jess!

      I have a few more ideas for nail art with this as the base – lots of autumnal designs. 🙂

      Thanks – glad you enjoyed my little owlies!

  6. Megan Glazer

    These are SO adorable!! Thank you for sharing the tutorial…I am definitely going to try these soon! Owls are my favorite 🙂

    1. Mary S. Post author

      Hey Mindy!

      Please show her this post, and if she decides to try her hand at some owl nail art, feel free to share a photo of it on my Facebook wall. I’d love to see it! 🙂


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