Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tutorial: Tape Christmas tree design

Hi everybody, welcome to my second Holiday design tutorial! In this tutorial I'll be showing you how to make the classic Christmas tree shape, with the help of tape for perfectly crisp lines. The design isn't too difficult to achieve, but you do need to cut and place many tape strips, so you may want to use it for accent nails only if you'd like to save yourself a lot of work ;-) Let's give it a try, shall we?

First apply your base color (with a basecoat underneath) and let it dry completely, if needed use a fastdrying topcoat to speed up the process.
With more detailed designs, I usually recommend using a plain base color to keep the focus on the design, but because that typical, zigzag shape of a Christmas tree is so simple and easy to recognize, we can go for something bolder this time. How about a (duo)chrome, a holographic polish or a sparkly glitter? Or perhaps just a simple but elegant shimmer?

Cut off two regular tape strips which you'll use in step 3, and four triangles for the rest in step 4. The way I cut the triangles is by first cutting off a little piece of the tape roll which I then cut in half diagonally, like shown in the picture.
Of course you can do the cutting before step 1, I personally like to cut the strips while I let my base color dry. But I have to be careful then, otherwise the tape might get stuck to my nails and ruin the polish. So admittedly, it is safer to start with cutting before applying the base color. However, if you've learned how to cut the tape without having it touch your polished nails, it can save you a lot of time.
When the base color is entirely dry, place the two rectangular tape strips on your nail, forming a chevron shape.
Then one by one, place two triangle shaped tape strips on each side of the chevron, with the points towards the center of the Christmas tree to be.
When you feel like all the tape strips are in the right position, press them down firmly so that they stay put on the surface. Then apply your layering color with a thin but opaque coat...
...and carefully peel off all the pieces of tape right away. And there it is, your classic Christmas tree design! Seal your design with a layer of (glitter) topcoat or add a rhinestone tree topper as a finishing touch. Merry Christmas!

Finally some useful tips:

  • For my tape manis, all I use is regular stationery tape. (For this particular tutorial I used painters tape for better visibility.) But you might prefer something else, so just experiment with different sorts of tape to figure out what works best for you.
  • For your base color you can use any polish you like, however one-coaters will allow you to place the tape much sooner because those are usually fast drying. Of course you can also quicken the drying of polishes that require several coats to cover, by applying a fast drying topcoat. (I use Seche Vite). 
  • Your layering color(s) can be either a one- or two-coater. Because you've already applied a base color, most polishes that usually take two coats to cover now will do with one.
  • Though I mention cutting the tape strips as step 2, I admit it is safer to cut before applying the base color. However, if you've learned how to cut the tape without having it touch your polished nails, it can save you a lot of time.
  • You might want to leave the cut strips somewhere else than the edge of your desk/table, to prevent them from getting stuck to the surface while you're busy. You do not want to have to peel them off with your freshly painted claws!
  • Apply your top color in one thin (but opaque) coat, this will create crisper lines.
  • When you're removing the tape strips, try to remove them individually, if you can, because most of the time your design will come out neater this way
  • Using tweezers to remove the tape strips can prevent your freshly painted nails from getting smudged.
  • It's not always necessary to start all over if you've messed up your design, often a little touch-up with a nailart brush can solve the problem.
  • If you want to use a matt topcoat, use a regular one underneath. My experience with matt topcoats is that they smudge the design very easily, even when it's completely dry. Applying a normal topcoat first will prevent that.
  • Moisterize your cuticles afterwards, because the tape can really dry out your skin!
  • You can practice this tutorial on your old mani that you applied a day (or more) before. That way it's certain that the base color is dry, plus this design is great for covering up tipwear!
  • Have fun and practice makes perfect ;)

I would absolutely love to see your attempt on my design, so feel free to leave a link to your creation in the comment section!

Polishes I used in this post are P2 Fever and China Glaze Millenium.


  1. Love this so much!

    What kind of tape is that you are using?

  2. Thank you :) The tape I use is painters tape, that's what it looks like in Holland. I really don't like it though! It keeps coming off the surface, which causes bleeding. I only used it for this tutorial for better visability ;-) Normally I use cello tape.

  3. Amazing! I'm defos trying this one out.

  4. Omg! Awesome!!!! I'm Sharing this on fb!

  5. I absolutely love your nail tutorials and all the cool original designs that you come up with and in such ingenius ways.
    Can't wait to try this one. :)

  6. Cello Tape? What kind of tape is that? Your manis are always flawless and perfect! I have not been able to get the hang of taping yet :-(

  7. Thank you so much for this tutorial! Cute idea and very helpful! :)

  8. Thanks guys for liking it, I hope you'll have fun with it! ^^

    @Jossie: Just regular stationery tape! The cheapest, most common, transparent one :)

  9. Thanks for answering me Jane! <3 Awesome post as always!

  10. Wauw, it's gorgeous, and so flawless!

  11. good idea to make Christmas tree :)

  12. Wow! Love it! I share it on my facebook fan page from my blog :) ( )

    xoxo Josianne

  13. Great tutorial!
    I think I'm gonna try this one :)

  14. Thanks for this great tutorial! I got painter's tape for polish designs but it didn't work as well as regular scotch tape. I'm going to try this design!

  15. This is so cute, for sure gonna try this for Christmas :)

  16. WoW, this is such a thorough tutorial! Definitely will give this one a try, thank you!

  17. cute and looks like easy! will try...i bet its not as easy as it looks! :) so creative!

  18. Yahoo!

    I was going to create a holiday mani using your Pyramids as a mod Christmas tree, but this new mani you invented is much, much more tree-like. I LOVE it!!

    I'll paint this weekend and post on Polishment next week!

    You really are the best, Jane. :D

  19. I really look forward to your nail tutorials!! Love them!

  20. wow,would love to try this! have attempted one tape mani like one of yours before, my trees may not come out as even, lol. but very pretty!

  21. Thanks for doing this! I might try it for Christmas :)

  22. Lovely!! Great tutorial! I really like how the shiny polishes look together with this pattern; like wrapping paper!

  23. As always Jane, a fantastic tutorial! I'm going to have to give this one a try! :-) x

  24. This is so brilliant, you are super talented. When you use stationary tape, how do you get it NOT to pull off your polish? I find it can rip off some of the existing polish, even if it's fully dry and I've used Seche Vite. I use sticky labels so you can keep them on the backing paper until you're ready to use them, but I definitely think I would get crisper lines from tape.

    Thanks again for this tutorial! You are wonderful! :)

  25. Just reposted this for my Brazilians girls! They always love your tutorial but many dont speak English so im building this bridge for them!

  26. What colors were you using for this? The red is gorgeous!

  27. Thank you all for leaving your kind comments, I really enjoy making tutorials and it's so wonderful to receive such positive feedback ^^

    @Gloss: Thanks so much! And I actually have a more mod type of Christmas tree coming up this week! So stay tuned ;-)

    @Aimeeus: Aaahw, you're making me blush, haha. Thank you <3 About your polish coming off with the tape, that's a strange problem you're having! I never experienced anything like that. With SV I'm ready to tape after 10-15 minutes or so. And it always comes off great. What you could do is to "unsticky" the tape a little before you use it; stick it to the palm of your hand a few times so that it's still sticky but less than first. I hope this will help, good luck :-)

    @Reiko: The red is called Fever from P2, I love how it has such a chic glow to it ^^ The silver is China Glaze Millenium.

  28. How cute!! I would have never guessed that that it would be that easy!

  29. When I've experimented with tape, I've found that sticking tape on a cutting board that's usually used for cutting fabric works well. I use an exacto knife to cut it- I can be more accurate with my shapes that way. :)

  30. @Holly: That's a great tip! Thanks a lot for sharing ^^

  31. You make it look way to simple... my edges never come out so clean :)

  32. Really nice:) Thank you so much for doing these tutorials!

  33. That's absolutely gorgeous! Thank you so much for sharing your tips! Have a Merry Christmas!

  34. I was wondering what type of tape you use because I was trying to do something with 'normal' tape and glue always left on nail :/ now I see that yours is more gently:> thanks to you now I know what kind of tape I must buy! :D
    Cute tree :)
    Merry Christmas! :))

  35. @Alexis: The tape I use is regular, transparent stationery tape (I used painters tape for this tutorial so I could show you better how to place the tape strips). But apparently not all are the same, I once used tape that would leave residue too. I'm not sure if it was old or poor quality, but I just bought a new roll from another store which works perfect. So I'd suggest you to try out a different roll bought somewhere else. It doesn't have to be expensive though, mine was about 1 euro from the supermarket :)

  36. Thanks for share this amazing tutorial!! ^.^

  37. I love your tutorials! I'm doing this one tonight. Keep up the good work, I appreciate your sharing your designs.

  38. Hi~
    This design is so cute ^_^
    Do you mind if I do a youtube tutorial on it? Giving you all the credits! If you do, it's ok :)

  39. @istarh and Sarah boo: You're welcome and the pleasure's mine :-)

    @Catherine Su: Sure, no problem ^^

  40. Thanks for this!!!
    When you do it looks easy, but when I so it it's a mess!
    Miss Starshiny

  41. This was wonderful and so easy to do! Here is my attempt:

  42. @Anitza: Turned out so cute with the little ornaments! Glad you liked the tutorial and thanks for sharing your mani ^^

  43. Just tried your design! Here's my version:
    Thank you for sharing!

  44. Awesome tutorial!!
    I was making xmas nail art on my nails last night, and I wanted to do a xmas tree, but I didn't know how to go at making one, so I just whimped at it, and, it came out funny looking.
    This tutorials great, def. gonna use this, and I also loove your abstract xmas tree, that one is soo different! :D
    I'm your new follower :)

    Happy Holidays! :D


  45. Hi Jane,
    Here is my attempt:

    I linked my post back to your blog.

    I love your blog, and your nails, btw.



  47. Here's my attempt at this:

    Not as perfect as yours, but it was my first time doing nail art like this, so I think they turned out okay with that in mind LOL

    Thank you for this tutorial :)

  48. Michael Newmark in Milwaukee, WisconsinOctober 2, 2012 at 8:22 AM

    I just stumbled across your wonderful nail art! Although being male and not doing anything to my own nails except keeping them clean and short, my 14 year old daughter loves nail art but never has the time to do it for herself. I am thinking of doing the Christmas tree on her nails for the coming party season as part of a "spa" day as a surprise for her. Your excellent tutorial makes it look quite easy. Thank you very much, Jane. I'll try to let you know how things go.

    1. Hi Michael, thank you for your heartwarming comment! That's so sweet of you to do her nails! I never thought of dads doing their daughter's nails, but why wouldn't they, if mommies do too. I wish you and your little girl a happy birthday, I hope she'll have a wonderful time.

  49. You just have awesome designs!!

    Ill def try them! :)

  50. How awesome! This is so neat! I'm gonna give this a go. :)

  51. Wow! I love this, soooo much harder than it looks with the angles, but so pretty

  52. This nail design is perfect for winter Holidays. Very nice! Love, kugati

  53. Hi!

    Your tutorials are great! You explain everything very detailled and I think with some practice I could even make nice patterns :)

    Here is my take on the Christmas Tree:



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