Saturday, September 15, 2012

Tutorial: Vertical Lightning Bolt

Hello everyone! Welcome to my vertical lightning bolt tutorial! You may have already tried its siblings the lightning bolt French or double lightning bolt, if you like those but want to step it up a notch, then this fellow is the right thing. It involves more individual tape strips and precision than the previously mentioned designs, so using it on an accent nail only is recommended if you don't have too much time. But if you enjoy the process as much as the end result, such as myself, why not go all the way for a special occasion? Let's begin!

Start by cutting the tape strips. You'll need two triangular pieces and two straight strips. I make them by taking of a little piece (±1inch/2,5cm) off the roll first which I cut in half diagonally for the triangles, or lengthwise for the straight strips.

Please note that I only use the black tape you see for the pictures of this tutorial. Normally I use regular stationery tape. The translucency can be a great advantage in some cases, but for pictures it makes the tape harder to see.

Apply your basecolor and leave it to dry. The polish must be absolutely dry before starting with step 3, so you may want to use a coat of quickdrying topcoat to speed things up. (I personally like Seche Vite.)
Now it's time to place the tape strips. To maintain the ratio of the lightning bolt each time, I always place the four strips in strict positions in the following way:

- First I place a straight strip on the surface. It starts at the upper left corner and goes down to the middle of the tip.
- Then I put a triangle on top, with one acute corner pointing upwards and also going down to the middle of the tip
- The second triangle goes at the top, with the acute corner pointing down, just without facing the first triangle
- And at last I complete the shape with the second straight piece, starting at the upper right corner of the nail and meeting the first triangle at the bottom for the pointy tail of the lightning bolt

If the strips are in the right position, carefully apply your layering polish with a thin coat and remove the strips right away.

Finish with topcoat and your lightning bolt is done! Prepare to hear a lot of "HARRY POTTER!". ;-)

Finally some useful tips:
  • For my tape manis, all I use is regular stationery tape. 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.
  • 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 layering 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 skin afterwards, because the tape can really dry it out!
  • 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.
  • 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 Essence Sending You Kisses and Essence Romeo.


  1. wow!! I can try finally :)))*Mary90*

  2. Very nice mani...thanks for the tutorial!

  3. I didn't even think of Harry Potter until you mentioned it haha! Thanks for the great tutorial, I'll definitely have to try this some time!

  4. beautifull lighting bolb i will deffinetly try this out, but i dont have patient for the base to dry haha

  5. I'm so excited for this! Definetly going to try this today! Love it!

  6. wonderful!!! We love ligthnin bolts. We have some stamping plaques with this design.
    Love your blog!

  7. This looks really cool! I've got a bunch of tape ready to use but the last time I tried something like this I pulled off the base coat as it hadn't dried properly. But I'll try again!

  8. Wow, bruikbare tips! Dankjewel. :) Again, lovely tutorial!

  9. I totally want to do this if we get a chance to go see our Tampa Bay Lightning team play!!

    Thanks so much! You always give excellent tutorials :)

  10. Neat! Thanks for the tutorial! I thought you might have done it the other way around ;)

  11. Beautiful work and great tips to try this out myself, Thank you.

  12. Yay!!! Thanks for the tutorial!!

  13. Looks great and i'll try this on my own nails soon

  14. nice tutorial.. :) will give this a try soon and let you know :)

  15. Love your manis! And your tutorials are really nice!

  16. I'd like to try this some time, thanks for the tutorial! ^_^

  17. Those nails are soo badass! love them!


  18. These are really neat. I tried a sample on an old coat of polish and it looks great. I used a crackle/blasted coat for the lightning bolt and it gave it a cool kind of distressed look!

  19. These are super cute!I did my own take on them and cited you on my blog!


    Check out my attempt! I think I'm going to try again pretty soon!

  21. I tried the vertical lightning bolt over some metallic polish - you can see it in the sunshine, more subtle instead. Thanks for explaining things so well and all the great step by step pictures.

    1. Cuuute! Love your colour choice, so girly! :-D

  22. I though: "oh my, it´s The Flash!"

  23. love this idea. your blog is amaze

  24. I love this so much. thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D


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