Monday, April 27, 2009

Fingernail Tutorial

This tutorial will be a step by step guide on how to make a realistic looking fingernail. This technique can be used on any size doll.
The first thing you should do is to gather your supplies. You can use any type of Polymer clay for the actual finger, but I suggest that you use a translucent clay for the actual fingernail.

I use Prosculpt translucent for the nail, and Cernit /Sculpey for the finger.
Matte eyeshadow in shades of mauve for shading and blushing.
An Orange stick for shaping the cuticle.
An Exacto knife, or very sharp clay scissors for shaping the nail.
A large crochet hook size H for life size baby fingers.
For miniature dolls use a knitting needle size 2.
An assortment of miniature brushes, and a small Maxine Mop.

For the next step, I take the large crochet hook and I take a small amount of the Translucent Prosculpt. I then roll the clay into a snake and place it on the crochet hook. Next, I start to flatten and stretch the clay along the hook. Flatten and stretch the clay until your clay is almost see through. Move the clay around the hook until it is almost touching underneath.

Take your crochet hook and place it in the oven at 250 degrees for 10 min. Sometimes I use a heat gun for 5 minutes, making sure to hold the hook with a washcloth so as not to get burned.

Cool the crochet hook completely before you remove the clay. When the hook is cool, gently pry the clay off the hook by lifting at the edges all the way around the clay.
This is what your clay should look like when taken off the crochet hook.

This next step is probably the most important part of the whole process. Either take your Exacto knife or a pair of clay scissors and cut the desired length you want for your nail. Use small snips of the scissors to keep the clay from cracking. Remember to cut the nail long enough for shaping.

After the length of nail has been determined, trim the nail on either side, and round off the corners at the top of the nail. Determine how long you want the sides of the nail to be. When the nail length has been determined gently clip the bottom of the nail into a "V" point. This point needs to be as sharp as possible.

Next, take your Cernit/Sculpey and roll it out to the length size of the finger you want.

Now is the time to sculpt the finger and shape the nail bed with the Orange stick. Make sure the sides are sculpted deep enough to allow the clay to come up and around the sculpted nail.

Now is the fun part!! Take your baked fingernail and with the pointed end, slide it under the nail bed and push down slightly, but not so much that the point comes back out of the clay. Now gently push the sides of the nail down into the soft clay. Now sculpt the sides of the finger to come up over the edge of the sculpted nail.

You may have to re-sculpt the cuticle at this time. Just make sure that the base of the cuticle isn't too puffy at the base.

Now take your miniature brushes and use a small amount of Mauve matte eyeshadow and color the creases of your finger. You can also shade the cuticle and nail base at this time.

Now you can bake your finger. I bake mine @ 250 degrees for 10 minutes. You will have to decide what temp and time you will sculpt your finger because everyone will sculpt differently and sizes may vary.

As soon as your finger comes out of the oven, and as soon as you can handle it, take your darker shade of Mauve eyeshadow and rub a wash of this quite heavily onto your nail. only go 3/4 of the way up the nail and stop. By leaving the wash off the top of the nail, that creates the tip of the nail, and the color will be perfect by using the translucent clay.

The next step is to take a soft cloth or a dry q-tip and gently rub the excess eyeshadow off the
nail. This will leave a very natural color.

When you are making a full hand, do each finger separately and add to the palm, smooth, pose, then shade and bake.

If desired you may apply a light varnish to the nail. When you do this gently tap the brush on the nail so you don't take the color off.

This concludes my fingernail tutorial. I hope this will help in making realistic fingernails.

(copyright 2009-2010) "All rights reserved" 
All texts and images are the sole property of Dessa Rae Original Art Dolls. 
This tutorial is for personal use only, and any reproduction for the sole intent of
sale and distribution is strictly prohibited.


  1. Thank you so much for this! I can't wait to try it!

  2. Hi Mary,
    I am so glad you like the tutorial. It was so much fun to make it. I hope it helps!! :)

  3. That is a wonderful tutorial Dessa! Great job!!! ;)

  4. Hi Marcie,
    Thanks so much for the nice compliment. I am glad you like the tutorial.

  5. Great tutorial! Thank you so much for sharing it ^__^


  6. Patrizia,
    Thank you for the nice comments! I really appreciate it.

  7. Your dolls are absoultly adorable!!And.. What a great tutorial. Thanks for sharing!
    happy hauntings, Gail

  8. Thank you Gail, what a wonderful compliment!!

  9. I don't think I have ever seen fingernails done like this before. Very cool!

  10. Hi Jessica, Thank you for the nice comments.
    Love your Pin dolls, very unique and adorable!!

  11. This is a great tutorial Dessa.

    Debie xxx

  12. Hi Dessa!! Oh my, this is an incredible tutorial! The pics are terrific and now I just want to go sculpt fingers! LOL! Thanks for your generous sharing!

  13. Hi Mary,
    Wonderful tutorial. Thank's so much!!!

  14. Your work is so sweet and adorable. Thank you for sharing with us such loveliness.


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