Nail Art Tutorial: Penguin Nails

Sunlight Penguin Nails Nail Art Tutorial & SwatchesMy hands are usually cold during this time of year, so I thought it would be a great idea to do Penguin Nails! (Also, one of my followers on beautylish requested that I do penguins sometime. I was happy to oblige!)

This look is extremely easy to do, but the finished design appears more complicated.

Like I always say, it’s about patience more than it is about skill. Don’t be intimidated by nail art!

(Check out my tutorial where I walk you through it with step-by-step written instructions and photographs.)

I really hope that you’ll try this design. 🙂 And if you do, let me know how it goes!

Penguin Nail Art Swatches

All swatches have:

Sunlight Penguin Nails Nail Art Tutorial & Swatches


Sunlight Penguin Easy Nail Art Tutorial & Pictures


Sunlight Nail Art Penguin Nails Tutorial & Pictures


Sunlight Penguin Nail Art Tutorial & Swatches


Sunlight Penguin Nails Nail-Art Tutorial & Swatch


Sunlight Winter Penguin Nail Nail-Art Tutorial


Flash Cute Penguin Nail-Art Tutorial Easy Nail Art


Flash Cute Penguin Nail Art Nail Swatches


Flash Cute Penguin Nails Nail Art Tutorial


Flash Cute Simple Penguin Nails Nail Art Tutorial


Flash Easy Winter Nail Art Penguin Nails


Natural Light Penguin Nails

Natural Light

Natural Light Easy Penguin Nails

Natural Light

Natural Light Easy Winter Nail Art Penguin Nails

Natural Light

Natural Light Penguin Nails Cute Nail Art

Natural Light

Natural Light Simple Penguin Nail Art

Natural Light

Sunlight Easy Penguin Nail Art Tutorial & Swatches


Flash Penguin Nails Easy Nail Art for Winter


Natural Light Penguin Nail Art Winter Nails

Natural Light

*~* Penguin Nail Art Tutorial *~*

Penguin Nails Nail Art Tutorial Supplies

What I Used:

  1. Nubar Foundation Base Coat
  2. Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat
  3. China Glaze Blue Island Iced Tea
  4. China Glaze Snow
  5. Orly Spark
  6. OPI Black Onyx
  7. Piece of foil
  8. Daniel Stone Art Tool #2

Step 1: Use a Base Coat

Step 2: Paint the Base Colour

I chose China Glaze Blue Island Iced Tea because it had a frosty, wintry feel to it. Plus it was light enough so that the black from the penguin would still stand out.

Although I used 3 coats, you could actually get away with just 2 coats.

Tip: You actually don’t need to paint your entire nail with this colour…only part of the blue shows, so consider saving your polish and painting just the top third of your nails.

Allow this to dry a bit for about 10 minutes before proceeding to the next step.

Penguin Nails Nail Art Tutorial Step 2

3 coats of China Glaze Blue Island Iced Tea

Step 3: Start the Penguin

Cover the remaining two third of your nails a black. Don’t worry if they’re not all even. When the design’s finished, any imperfections won’t be as noticeable. Plus penguins come in all shapes and sizes anyway. 🙂

Penguin Nails Nail Art Tutorial Step 3

Step 4: Make It Snow

Add a few drops of white polish onto your piece of foil, which you’ll use as a palette. (You can also use a plastic bag or anything that won’t absorb the polish or let it leak. Try not to use paper, as this wastes a lot of polish.)

Dip your dotting tool, the end of a make-up brush, a toothpick, or any other tool you have into the white polish. Add random dots over the blue sections.

Penguin Nails Nail Art Tutorial Step 4

Step 5: Add the Penguin’s Belly

Using a white polish, paint a semi-circle onto the bottom. You may need to go over this again to get it more opaque.

Penguin Nails Nail Art Tutorial Step 5

Step 6: Start the Eyes

Using your dotting tool (or other tool), dip it into some white polish on your piece of foil and add two dots per nail.

Penguin Nails Nail Art Tutorial Step 6

Step 7: Add a Beak

To help the beak stand out, I suggest using a yellow like I did or an orange. You could use a grey, but I just think a yellow is cuter.

This is how I got the shape of the beak. I dipped a very small dotting tool into the polish on a piece of foil. I started to make a dot where the base of the nose should start. Then, without lifting my tool, I dragged it over to the right side. The line naturally tapers.

(If you feel more comfortable using a nail-art brush for this, use it. I just found it easiest to use a dotting tool because it makes it look clean even if you have shaky hands.)

Penguin Nails Nail Art Tutorial Step 7

Step 8: Give Your Penguin Sight

Dip your dotting tool into some black polish on your piece of foil and carefully add a black dot on the white ones you created previously. Consider putting the pupils in different spots so that they’re looking around or looking at each other!

Penguin Nails Nail Art Tutorial Step 8

Step 9: Add a Top Coat

Is it cold where you are now? Do you think that penguins are cute or strange animals? Did you watch Happy Feet or March of the Penguins?

Edit: WOW! Guess what? China Glaze retweeted my penguin nail art to their followers! That made my day! 🙂 I love companies that are so supportive.

China Glaze Retweeted Swatch And Learn


52 thoughts on “Nail Art Tutorial: Penguin Nails

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Nory!

      You’re welcome – I love to do nail art, but also show how it’s done. I’d love for people to try it out and see that it’s not as complicated as they might think. 🙂

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Becca!

      YAYYYY! Please let me know how yours turn out and what polishes you chose. I love seeing (or hearing) about people’s variations. 🙂

  1. Carmela

    I need to try this! Although, I might be a bit too matchy-matchy with our holiday decor.. See, we have an inflatable penguin (with a scarf and santa hat) on the lawn and another penguin (glittery and wearing a santa hat) in the house! Once retailers put all the decor on sale, we plan on getting more friends for our lonely inflatable penguin outdoors. 😀 Bonus points that I absolutely loved Happy Feet (the movie) when it first came out! I still haven’t seen the 2nd as sequels aren’t always better than the original and I fear it might ruin the first for me.

    Anyway, great tutorial! I’m being boring with my nails lately so trying this will definitely make things more interesting! 😀
    Carmela recently posted: China Glaze Ruby Pumps takes you away from holiday induced stress

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Carmela!

      Yes, on your pretty nails, this design is a MUST!

      Your Christmas decor sounds cute and original. Maybe on your penguin nails, you could add little scarves and hats, too. Hehe, who cares if it’s matchy-matchy? Hehe, it’s the holidays! Have fun! 😀

      P.S. Your nails aren’t boring!

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Marisa!

      Thanks! 🙂 Nail art always just takes patience more than skill. 🙂 I’m always trying to deconstruct ‘complicated’ designs and show people how easy they are to do. Hopefully more people whip out their polishes and try it out.

  2. maddy

    This design is sooo cute. I actually just did this manicure before typing up this comment. I had to wait for each layer to dry so it took a bit longer than usual. It was a fairly easy design but as always, it was hard to paint my right hand because I’m right hand. Now my nails are adorable and I can’t stop staring at them. Some of my friends were over while I painted my nails and I showed them your blog. They love your blog and said they were going to check it out when they got home. They were also upset because they missed the giveaway.

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey maddy!

      You’ve flattered me so much by actually trying out the design for yourself. 😀 Glad that you love it. And, with practice, you’ll become even better at painting with your non-dominant hand. 🙂

      Wow, thanks for sharing my blog with your friends! Please let them know that I’m planning another giveaway for the New Year so they don’t miss out. 🙂

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Amber!

      I can’t wait for you to try some out, too. It’s fun seeing designs on other people’s nails. And then you can coordinate your nail art with the eye looks that you’re so good at! 🙂

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey again, makeup chic!

      That’s awesome – I just checked it out. Thank you so much for spreading the word! 😀 Hope that more people try this look out.

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey another Cristina!

      I’m sure you’ll do a great job. Just took a look at the fun Christmas nail art you did on your blog! 🙂 Nice work!

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Maria!

      Do you have an orange? You could use that instead. Or you could go with a very different colour – I can see how a grey would work.

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey karen!

      Thanks! 🙂 I’m no longer wearing this manicure, and…sniff sniff…I miss them. Who else will look out for me and my freezing hands?

  3. Marta

    I HAD to come back and comment on these! THEY ARE SOOOOO DARN CUTE!
    My hands are always icey at this time of year also… so technically they could live on my nails also… I’ll send them an invitation ;D

    The blue background is the perfect sparkle to these little guys’ sky! One of my favourite nail-art tutorials you have done thus far! 😀
    Marta recently posted: Day 8 – Glitter Nails

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Marta!

      Glad you like them. And maybe the penguins are already making their way over to you. They’re no longer on my nails…sniff sniff…and I miss their little eyes looking up at me. *Walks into a pole* Okay, okay…eyes straight ahead! Got it.

  4. Charlotte

    These are SO cute. I really, really want to make them, but I don’t have yellow nor white nailpolish, and also I don’t think my nails are long enough 🙁
    I’d probably go with just making the penguins.
    And I just realized that my black is still missing.

    But I absolutely love this!

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Charlotte!

      Well, maybe you could do a crazy Technicolour penguin look instead of the traditional penguin colours! That would be trippy.

  5. Rosie

    Hey, I love your tutorials, they’re so easy to follow and they look great. If only I were half as talented.
    I had a go at this one myself and the design turned out perfect, however I had an issue with the nail polish. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s cheap polish or another reason, but it seems to smudge easily and I don’t even have to put much pressure on it and the polish will slide. This is even with a top coat on. The polish doesn’t seem to have dried solid if that makes sense, it’s squishy =/ I think this may be a polish issue, but if you could enlighten me or give me any tips on how to prevent it that’d be great.
    Keep up the great work 🙂

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Rosie!

      I’m glad that you’re enjoying my tutorials – I do them because I really want to encourage more people to try out designs that may otherwise intimidate them. A lot of times, designs aren’t nearly as overwhelming as we think they are. 🙂 And sometimes you just have to try one design and then realize that you ARE good at it.

      Rosie, the fact that you even tried some nail art is a lot more than what a lot of other people attempt, so GOOD FOR YOU! 😀 That’s the step in the right direction. (And thank you for the compliment – really, though, it’s more about just patience than it is about skill. That’s what I think.)

      Hmm…what top coat are you using? I’m using Seche Vite. It’s possible that other top coats may not work as well. It could also be that maybe you need to wait longer for the layers of polish to dry before adding your top coat. And does your design stay squishy for days or just on that first day?

      (Thanks for your encouragement! I soaked it up like a sponge!) 😀

  6. Kim

    Oooooohhhhh….my goodness! Sooo much better than Happy Feet….Happy Nails! I don’t know anyone who doesn’t smile when they see penguins…and now I can’t wait to try this on me and see if I can STOP smiling with these guys on my fingers. I better hurry, spring is around the corner…maybe I will turn down the thermostat while wearing these. Thank you so much for being talented, patient and sharing!! Love, love your blog!

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Kim!

      I like that – Happy Nails! 😀

      Thank you for being such a nice reader. Comments like yours motivate me to continue blogging and working toward making Swatch And Learn better each day. 🙂

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Christina Alexia!

      YAY! I’m so glad that you enjoyed my penguin nail art that it inspired you to do your own version. 🙂 I took a look at your blog post, and the manicure you did was really cute! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Mary S. Post author

      Hey Hannah!

      You know what? Even if yours came out straight, I bet it still looks good and that your penguin looks cute! 🙂 Please don’t think that you have to recreate it 100% the same. The great thing about freehand nail art is that no two manicures are exactly the same!

      I just added a little more pressure on the brush when I painted it left to right.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge