How to create stamping decals, tutorial

I got a request to show how I create my stamping decals. I don't think my way of doing decals is anything special/different from how most people do them but I decided to put together a tutorial all the same. If there are any gaps to my description or other questions let me know in the comments!

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Start by gathering your supplies. You will need your normal stamping supplies:
  • a stamping plate, I'm using MoYou Suki 04
  • a stamper, I'm using a 1 $ stamper that I got of eBay 2 years ago
  • a scraper, I'm using an old plastic card
  • a stamping polish, I'm using Mundo de Unas black (you don't need a dedicated stamping polish!)
  • not pictured: acetone + cotton wool to clean up plate
 Additionally you will need:
  • something to create the decals on, I'm using an orange baking mat but any fairly thick plastic would work (like a zip lock bag)
  • a clear polish to create the decals with, I'm using an old top coat by Depend which is super thin
  • a couple of polishes to fill in your design, I'm using OPI A Grape Fit, OPI Panda-Monium Pink and Catrice Earnie & Berdie. Using polishes with good opacity is preferable!
  • something to fill in your decals with, I used a thin dotting tool but a brush works too
  • not pictured: a cleanup brush and acetone and (optional) a small scissor to cut away excess polish. 
Step 1 - paint clear polish onto a baking mat (or equivalent). Paint squares that are roughly the size of your stamped design or a little larger. You need one square for each decal. I like to do a few extras in case I mess up. For a full hand I might do 12. These have to dry before you move on to the next step. 5-10 minutes have worked for me.
When I first tried decals I did not use this polish but a normal quick drying one which was a mistake. You need the result to be quite flexible, a quick drying top coat is sturdy when dry so it will be hard to apply it to your nail later on. Hence, do not use Seche Vite! Make sure you find a thin clear polish (when I tilt my bottle, it almost looks like water inside, it just moves differently from top coat). I've heard that Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear Invisible is a good choice.
Step 2 - pick up your stamped design like you normally would and check that it looks fine on the stamper. Stamp onto one of your polished squares on the baking mat. Repeat until you've done all of them.
Step 3 - start filling in your design with colour. It does not matter if you paint onto the black lines since you will turn the decal around later. Note that the star pattern I'm using here is very time consuming, consider using something with a little larger areas if you don't have all night!
Step 4 - continue with more colours. I decided not to add my third colour, yellow, to the decal. Instead I painted my nails yellow and let it shine through the bare/unpainted areas on the decals.
Step 5 - Once you're happy with your decals you need to pick them up. I use a pointy dotting tool to get under the edges of it. After you've lifted a corner, the rest should follow easily.
Step 6 - Turn the decal around and inspect it. Does it look alright? As you can see on my decal there are some tiny spots that aren't covered with paint that should be. Either you leave them be or you put the decal back on the mat and fill them in. Since I do two extra decals, there's room to discard anything that looks too wonky.
Step 7 - for easier cleanup, cut away any part of the decal you don't need. This can be both clear polish or part of the design, if it's much larger than your nail.
STEP NOT PICTURED: Polish your nails with your chosen base colour, here yellow. The last coat should not be completely dry. Usually I'll polish my nails with one coat before I start making my decals, then do a second thin coat here.
Step 8 - Make sure your nail is prepared and coloured (if you are doing a negative space design, polish your nails with clear polish). Your nail polish should be nearly dry but not completely so that the decal has something to adhere to. Apply the decal to the nail (make sure you get the right side up! (it's happened to me...)). Here's where using a thin clear polish in step 1 really makes a difference. A suitable clear polish will make fitting the decal around your nails curvature easy, a non suitable clear polish (like fast drying top coat) will give you hard/inflexible decals that won't hug your nail well. I usually use a finger tip to fit the decal around all parts of the nail.
Then use a clean up brush to remove excess. I use my cleanup brush with acetone even at the tip of my nail to try and press the excess under my nail so I get a wrapped tip. Finish off with a coat of normal quick drying top coat.
Enjoy your result!

Note that there are two different ways to do decals. One is the method I've described above. The other is to have one stamper for each decal you plan on making (I don't have that many). You pick up your design onto the stamper head and then fill in you design. Then you add clear polish to the result and lift it from the stamper and proceed at step 6 above. Here is a tutorial for that the technique!
Additionally there's also a method called reverse stamping where you  fill in your design on the stamper but then don't add clear polish but instead press the stamper directly onto your nail. This is a quicker method I sometimes use but I find that it distorts the pattern so wouldn't use it for something as graphical as this print. It is perfect for smaller images though, check out this tutorial for it. Note that you need a soft stamper for this to work!


  1. Great tutorial!
    I love the end result!

    1. Thank you! I love it too, was just hard work getting there :P


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