Sunday, June 1, 2014

Grunge Butterfly Manicure + Tutorial

Hi there!  It's been a busy weekend here at the OTTC household!  I helped my boss with an art festival on Friday and the bf and I hit the Chicago Botanic Garden yesterday.  We had a perfect day for it and I snapped lots of lovely flower photos!  Spring gives rise to most of my favorite blooms, including poppies and irises (my all-time favorite!).  What goes more naturally with flowers than butterflies?  Today I have a very dramatic manicure to show you and I've included a tutorial at the end so you can recreate it!

I had actually started out this mani with a different intent but when I started working on it, the patterns reminded me so much of Monarch butterfly wings that I just ran with it. 

For this look, I used Studio M polishes in Volt of Light, Psychedelic Scene, Hot Zone, and Lovin' It as well as Sinful Colors in Black on Black.  Yes, I know that sounds like a ton of polishes, but the look is actually pretty easy to achieve, I promise!

I wore this mani for several days because I was just so in love with it!  The bold black lines and bright colors are sure to catch everyone's eye...I got tons of compliments on this manicure so let's get to that tutorial so you all can try it out!

What you'll need: paper towels, acetone/nail polish remover, a small nail art brush (a small paint brush works well, too), base and top coat, at least 3 brightly colored opaque nail polishes plus a black nail polish

Step 1: Start with your preferred base coat.  We'll be using lots of polish here in different colors and you don't want any staining!

Step 2: Apply 1-2 coats of each of your chosen polishes.  I suggest you choose opaque polishes rather than sheers.  You'll need each color to be opaque to get good results and if you have to use 4 coats of a polish for opacity, you're either going to wait forever for things to dry or end up with a gloppy old mess.  For my tutorial photos, I used Sally Hansen's Insta-Dri in Lively Lilac, Blue-Away, and Snappy Sorbet.  Be sure to allow plenty of drying time between color layers.  You can speed things up with a thin coat of a fast dry top coat between the colors (I used Seche Vite for mine), but I've had better results if I let things dry on their own for about 10 minutes in between colors.

Step 3: Apply one coat of your black polish.  I've used Sinful Colors Black on Black for this tutorial.  Allow to dry (you can also apply a thin coat of a fast drying top coat, if you're in a hurry).

Step 4: Using your small nail art brush dipped in acetone (or nail polish remover, but I've found pure acetone gives better results), begin removing the top layer of black polish so the under layers of polish show through.  This can be a tricky step.  I usually clean my brush with a paper towel and re-dip it in acetone between each swipe on the nail.  After a few swipes with acetone, you'll see the layers of polish colors begin to show through.  You don't have to imitate a butterfly wing.  This technique can be as precise or abstract as you like.

Step 5: Continue removing the polish layers carefully until you are satisfied with the look.  Be aware that if you remove too many  layers you'll be left with bare nail, which is not what we're looking for here.

Step 6: When you're happy with the way your manicure looks, top with your favorite top coat to finish.  You can also use a smoothing top coat.  Because you've "scraped" out layers of polish, you may need a smoothing top coat (like Gothic Gala's Smooth Me Over Top Coat or Carpe Noctem Cosmetics' Glitter Slayer) to smooth out the bumpiness.

I originally saw this technique at, but when I went to find her site to give credit, it wasn't around anymore.  I'm assuming that she's given up her site (which is too bad cuz she did some great stuff!) but maybe she just moved somewhere else.  If anyone knows differently, please let me know as I'd like to link to her current page! She used the technique in a different way, but I wanted to give her credit for giving me the idea.

I'd love to see any looks you guys come up with using this technique so feel free to link photos or posts to this one if you use it :)  Thanks so much for reading!


  1. I love this! I was trying to create a mani like this about three days ago, but by drawing the black lines over the top. I just couldn't get them to look right. This looks much easier and much prettier, I love the layers of color!! Thanks so much for the tutorial. I will definitely try it out soon and share it with you!!

  2. This is very cool! Unfortunately, my attention span is almost way I'd be able to do a full mani of this. Maybe an accent nail...hmm...thinking, thinking. Thanks for the tutorial too!


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