How to Draw Little Paws on Nails

Extend the life of your design by applying a base coat before you paint your nails.
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You can create fun, eye-catching nail art at home with or without special nail tools. One of the easiest designs -- paw prints -- is perfect for animal lovers. Drawing little paws on your nails is not as difficult as you might think. All you need are clean, shaped nails, two polish colors and nail tools. Although you may not be able to replicate the more intricate designs that nail technicians create, basic designs -- such as paws -- should be a cinch once you get the knack of the basic method.

Gather your tools and polishes so that you have everything handy before you get started. You can use the tools in a nail-art kit, which usually includes a dotting tool and a nail-art brush. Alternatively, you could use an angled eyeliner brush or a pointed toothpick to draw your design.

Soak a cotton ball in nail polish remover and swipe over the top of each nail -- even if you don't have nail polish on. If you want your paw-print design to last, you need to start with clean nails that are free of any excess oil.

Cut your nails with manicuring scissors and file them into your preferred shape: round, oval, squoval, pointed or square.

Soak your hands in warm water for a few minutes, and gently use the cuticle tool to push your cuticle back and make your nails appear longer.

Paint your nails with a clear base coat, starting at the cuticle and moving outward to the edge of each nail. The base coat helps your manicure last longer, as it fills in any cracks and lines in your nail, making it easier for the color to adhere.

Apply two coats of colored nail polish, moving from the cuticle to the edge of the nail. Allow the polish to dry between coats.

Dip the pointed end of a toothpick, nail-art brush or dotting tool into the nail polish you’ve chosen for the paw prints. Draw three overlapping dots on your nail to create the large, main paw pad in the position of your choice. For example, you can draw it in one of the corners closest to your cuticle or start it closer to the nail tip.

Draw three or four smaller dots in a semi-circle around the larger paw pad along the edge that's closest to your finger tip. These smaller dots should mimic the appearance of smaller toe-like pads, completing the paw print. Repeat on your other nails, choosing the same corner on each nail.

Allow your nails to dry completely. Apply a clear top coat of polish to the nails, once your paw prints are dry. The top coat with help prevent your nail color from fading; it will also add shine and minimize chipping.

Let the top coat dry for roughly 15 minutes. Keep your hands flat and still to prevent the polish from becoming unsettled. Touch your nails lightly after 15 minutes to make sure they're dry. Wait at least 25 more minutes before doing any activity that might smudge your work.

  • Make your paw prints pop by using a color that contrasts with your main nail polish. For example, if you've painted your nails with a bright neon shade or a darker color, select a bright white or silver polish for the paw prints. Conversely, if you've used a lighter color on the nails, use black or another dark color to draw the paws.
  • Reapply the top coat after a few days to keep your nails and little-paw design chip-free. Don't forget to add a little top coat under your nail tips to maximize the length of your manicure.

Caryn Anderson combines extensive behind-the-scenes writing experience with her passion for all things food, fashion, garden and travel. Bitten by the travel bug at the age of 15 after a trip to Europe, Anderson fostered her love of style and fashion while living in New York City and earning her degree at New York University.