The Easy Guide to Creating Nail Art with Stamps [16-Step Checklist]

Stamping nail art 3 examples, header image.

Are you looking for a fun way to do your nails the easy way? Well, look no further than nail stamping!

This technique is a great way to create intricate designs and patterns on your nails in minutes. And don't worry – even if you're a beginner, stamping is easy to learn.

In this guide, we'll walk you through the basics of nail stamping, as well as some tips and tricks for creating beautiful nails. So get ready to unleash your inner nail artist!

What is stamping nail art?

Nail stamping is a nail art technique that allows you to transfer designs from a stamping plate onto your nails. It's a relatively simple process that I will go into step-by-step details below. Nail stamping is a fun way to experiment with different designs and create unique looks for your nails.

It's a great way to add some pizzazz to your nails without having to go to a salon. With a little practice, you'll be able to create beautiful nail designs that are sure to impress your friends.

You can do this step-by-step process yourself, or you could do it with a friend. Have fun, experiment and keep trying new designs. Without further ado, let's jump right in.

Nail Stamping Checklist

Create nail art at home

1) What are the main stamping tools needed?

Stamping tools are usually composed of three basic items: the stamping plate, the scraper, and the stamping tool. You can find nail stampers, stamping plates, scrapers and nail polish online or at your local craft store.

  • The stamping plate is a firm, flat surface with an etched design that is used to transfer the design onto the nail. They are usually made of thin steel and will have a ton of images on them per plate so you can get super creative. Stamping plates can be used over and over again. I found some steel stamping plates over at
  • The scraper is a thin, curved instrument that is used to scrape excess polish off of the stamping plate. Avoid purchasing one with a blade as this might cause damage to your stamping plate.
  • The stamper is a small cylindrical tool that is pressed into the polish on the stamping plate to pick up the design and transfer it onto the nail. Stampers come in harder rubber, or a softer jelly-like stamp. Sometimes sticky-ish and sometimes smooth. Maybe try different types to see what you like best. The softer stampers are usually best for beginners. I found this set of 4 different shaped stampers + scrapers over on Amazon.
Nail Stamping kit - stamping plates, stampers and scrapers.
image via instagram @tkclaws

TIP #1: For beginners, try to match your stamper tool brand with the same brand of stamping plate you get. The reason being is these have been tested most likely only with the same brand and therefore you might not get the same result with different brands. They should still work, just might be different than you expect. That said, it’s up to you to experiment and find what works for you.

TIP #2: You can always buy a whole kit which usually includes a stamper tool, scraper and some stamping plates. I've seen them on Etsy, and also on Amazon. That way you're getting all your tools from the same place. But always read reviews. Some tools will be better quality than others.

TIP #3: According to, when purchasing online, be sure to read reviews and look at the details to make sure the plate you’re wanting is good quality. You also definitely want to start off simple with your first stamp choices, nothing with super intricate designs for best results.

TIP #4: In order to create a professional-looking manicure, it is important to use high-quality stamping tools. Look for stamping plates made of stainless steel or other durable materials, and make sure that the scraper and stamping tool are both comfortable to hold and easy to use. With the right stamping tools, you will be able to create beautiful nail designs with ease.

2) Pick your stamping nail polish

You might be wondering… is there a special polish you need to use? The short answer is no. But the long answer is, the thicker the polish the more chance that your result will be a bright and bold design.

Gel polishes are generally thicker in texture, but keep in mind these polishes usually require their own specific base coat and top coat.

Brands to use are:

Using a regular polish will still work, it might just come out differently than you expect, which might end up being what you wanted and that’s ok! Have fun with this, experiment and find what you like and don’t like.

You can choose to use as many colors as you’d like for your stamp, or just go one color and keep it simple. We go more into this in step #9 below.

Here is an example of one polish color being used in the cactus stamp design vs multiple colors being used in the sunflower stamp design.

Nail stamping: single color stamping polish vs multi-color stamping polish.

3) Gather other supplies

Other than your main tools, here are some other things you might need. Laying these out on the table might be helpful so you have it all ready to go for your at home manicure session.

  • Paper towel or piece of paper to lay the stamping plate on and protect your table from getting nail polish on it when you add polish to the stamping plate, and when you paint your nails.
  • Cotton balls or cotton pad
  • Acetone polish remover (for cleaning the stamping plate)
  • Non-Acetone polish remover (for cleaning any unwanted polish that gets on your skin)
  • Tape or lint roller
  • A clear base coat
  • Quick-dry top coat
  • Cotton claw

4) Clean your nails and remove any old polish

It’s time to prep your nails for painting. You’ll want to remove any nail polish from previous manicures using a non-acetone polish remover. You could also file your nails, if needed, in one direction. Next, wash your hands and nails. You are now ready to start the fun of painting.

5) Apply a base coat

Base coats are great for many reasons, one being it helps the polish to stick to your nail better, helping your DIY manicure last longer. It also creates a barrier to protect your nails from the polish.

If you’re concerned about your nails staining yellow, you should always apply a base coat as the base coat will protect your nails from staining.

Paint each nail with a layer of base coat. Orly has a good one called Bonder.

6) Choose a background color

different nail polish colors in bottles.
Photo by Dan Cristian Pădureț on Unsplash

You’ll want to decide what polish you want as the background color and apply that to your nails. Some choose one color, others get creative and make a design using multiple colors.

Once your base coat is dry, add your background color polish to each nail.

The possibilities are endless with what you can do really because it's all about being creative with your nail art.

person applying nail polish to their nails.
Photo by Karolina Grabowska

7) Apply topcoat

Once your background color polish is dry, apply two coats of quick-dry topcoat to each nail. Doing this will make it easier to fix any mistakes you do while nail stamping.

Orly has a good one called Won't Chip.

8) Choose stamping nail art design

If you haven’t already, while your nails are drying, it’s time to pick a design you want to use and decide which nail(s) you want to stamp. It all depends on your mood or taste. Some people like to go simple and pick one accent nail to stamp, while others like to do all the nails.

Girl with polka dot stamp nail art
Photo by Kirill Palii

There are so many stamping plates to choose from out there. I’ve seen tons online on Etsy or other sites. I have also seen them in beauty supply stores. You can pick a design to fit the season, or an upcoming holiday. For example pumpkins for Halloween or stars and stripes for 4th of July.

There are just general designs also, to fit any trends you’re into: birds, flowers, tribal, hearts, words, travel, animals, bugs, spirals, stars, zodiac, characters, etc. The list goes on and on.

There are also stamps that add a “texture” look to them, for example animal print or polka dots and you might want to add those to all the nails for the full effect, but don’t be afraid to experiment and have fun with your designs.

Here are some good examples from TwistedRealityCrafts on Etsy.

Nail stamping plate examples
ALERT: With nail stamping you’ll want to keep in mind that nail polish will dry quickly, so be sure to plan out the next steps (9-12) beforehand so you can do this in a timely manner to avoid it drying out on you.

9) Apply nail polish to the stamping plate

Take the stamping nail polish and apply to the stamping plate of your choice on the design you chose. Just simply brush on a layer of polish right onto the design. Be sure to have a paper towel or paper under your stamping plate so you don't get polish on your table.

Multiple color stamping note: Most people (especially beginners) keep it simple and use one color, but you can do multiple colors if you’re feeling extra creative and bold. Once you’ve done stamping nail art a few times, you’ll get the hang of it and be using multiple colors in no time.

In the photo example below Meliney Nail Art uses multiple colors on leaves. To be extra careful you could use a small brush to add the polish, if needed. It's important to move quickly so it doesn’t dry before you're done.

Using multi colors in nail stamping.

As you get more practice using stamps you can even try reversing the stamp for a new design.

10) Scrape away any excess polish

Once you’ve applied your polish to the plate, you’ll want to take your scraper and hold it at a 45 degree angle and scrape over the plate design to remove any excess polish to allow for a smooth application onto your nail stamper.

Doing this also presses the wet polish more into the grooves of the stamp design which will allow for more details in your stamping nail art.

11) Use your stamper tool

Read all instructions before you begin: Take your stamper, and roll the rounded edge onto the stamping plate that you just applied the polish onto.

Don't just press down on it, you will do this in a rolling motion across your chosen design, firmly but only once and only in one direction.

This will transfer the design onto your stamper tool and in the next step you'll then transfer it to your nail.

Think of your stamper tool as a "transfer tool".

This might take some practice, so be patient with yourself. Especially the first few times that you try it.

NOTE: If the polish doesn't come off the plate onto your stamper tool at all, then it could be you didn't press hard enough, try pressing again.

If it still doesn't work, check to make sure the polish hasn't dried. You will need to start over if this is the case by cleaning your tools and reapply the stamping polish and scraping before pressing the stamper onto the plate again.

12) Transfer design to your nail

nail stamping done by a nail artist
photo by cottonbro

Next, you want to quickly transfer the design you just put onto your stamper, onto your nail.

Place the stamper where you want it positioned and press onto the nail. You can roll the stamper across your nail in one rotation smoothly.

If you get paint on your finger, don't worry - try using tape to remove, or use a non-acetone nail polish remover on a small flat paintbrush to carefully remove without messing up your nails.

This might take some practice, so don't get discouraged if your first try doesn't turn out as nicely as you hoped. You can always start over and try again. See step #14 below for fixing any mistakes.

13) Clean your stamping tools between each use

After each use, you’ll want to clean your tools as soon as you can. This will remove any nail polish residue, so you can avoid messing up your nails in the future.

For cleaning the stamping plate, stamper and scraper; it’s best to use an acetone polish remover that doesn’t contain any moisturizers or oils. Take a cotton pad or ball with acetone remover on it and rub the polish off. When doing this, be careful not to smudge your nails. You can use a cotton claw to help with this.

NOTE: Repeat the stamping process for other nails, if desired. If you want to add a stamping nail art design on any other nails, you just repeat the above steps (9-13). It’s always best to clean your tools between nails so you avoid messing up.

14) If you make a mistake

Good news - if you added a couple layers of top coat between your background polish and your stamping polish, you can easily fix any stamp mistakes.

First try using a sticky lint roller to remove the messed up stamp design.

If that doesn’t work use a cotton ball/pad that has a tiny amount of rubbing alcohol on it. And, if that still doesn’t work, you can try non-acetone polish remover and gently roll over the stamp to remove.

15) Apply a top coat

Once the paint from the stamp is dried on all your nails, apply a top coat to seal your new beautiful stamping nail art design.

Leaf nail art stamping design.
image via instagram

16) Clean up time

If you got any polish on your skin around your nail, clean it off carefully with non-acetone polish remover.

Let your nail art design dry completely. Be careful not to smudge.

Keep in mind that most polish can take a while to dry, even if it feels dry to the touch, it might still be wet and could smudge, so be extra careful for at least 2 hours after painting your nails. If you’re using a dryer, it will be a quicker dry time.

LED UV nail dryer lamp for drying nails quickly.
Photo by Dids


To break it down simply, you would follow these points in creating stamping nail art.

And, that’s it! You now have a new completely cool nail design to show off to your friends.

  • You've purchased and gathered all your supplies.
  • You've picked your polishes and stamping plates with the design you want.
  • You've gone through the steps for stamping your nails with nail art.
  • You've cleaned up any messes.
  • You're letting your nails dry.

Hope you enjoy your new stamping design, and keep having fun with creating new stamping nail art.

If you have any questions, reach out to us anytime.

ultimate nail stamping guide tutorial