Before you do any of this make sure you have been to the toilet, you have everything you need around you including a drink ;) and that you have plenty of time to create; there's nothing worse than starting a design and then realising you have to do the shopping, etc etc.
So the first thing I do is find inspiration, now this can be from almost anywhere; other bloggers, clothing, fashion magazines are a good source for patterns, other people, nature, buildings, art etc etc.
|This was what I did for the Jil Sander paisley|
|This is the floral design, note the mess, I'll get onto that :P|
I do this so that it's easier to draw the design when you get onto your real nail as you realise you have more space than you thought. If you don't feel confident with the design just keep drawing it over and over until you do. The more you practice the better you'll be :).
Once you have confidence that you'll be able to do it on your nail, grab your tools and just go for it. The 'tools' that I use are Dotting tools from ebay for £2, make up sponge again £2 for however many, nail art pens - wah nails which have a striper and a nib but I only use the stripers as I find that the nib is too unreliable as the polish just flows out and I can't control it which ruins EVERYTHING. The other nail art pens I use are by Supreme nails and they are £19.99 for 10 and I love them so much, they only have a nib as the brush that comes with them are full sized so you can paint your nails with the nail art pen, I guess it's good if you are traveling as they can be joined together at the base.
The most important thing I do before doing any nail art is to use Seche vite even if my nails are dry, I do this to ensure that there is a smooth base, if you have ever tried to do nail art on a less than smooth base you'll understand why. Also seche vite just makes sure that everything is perfectly dry, this might sound simple but never try to do nail art on wet polish, even if you think it's nearly dry, don't do it! It will drag the tacky polish off and then you'll get super stressed and messy. So just wait those couple of minutes longer.
If you are using dotting tools you need a puddle of polish to dip into, I know a few people use a lid of something but I simply use paper, there's no reason why you shouldn't as long as you don't tip a massive great pool out you'll be fine ;). The puddle will eventually go tacky but that's inevitable. You can see all my spots of polish on the second photo, dotting tools are good for mixing polish too, that's how I made the light grey just mixed the two colours on the paper via a dotting tool. Another plus of using paper is that you can practice dotting before you go on the nail. Multi purpose indeed :).
If you know that your non dominant hand will be shaky practice dotting etc repeatedly without polish on the tool, just go through the action slowly and then faster, this should help steady you. I think a lot of it is in your mind as well, if you think you won't be able to do it then you probably won't, so think positive and think of what movement you are doing, it really helps. Chances are if you can paint your nails with your non dominant hand then you CAN use it for nail art :)!
Aim high but start off small otherwise it'll just knock your confidence if you find that you can't do something, you will be able to with practice.
This time last year my left hand was shaky but constant practice has made it steady and in control (lol) you just train it to behave :P.
I made this little book of designs sometime last year around september and I've improved sooooo much since then, so I'm proof that it pays to practice!
There you have it, I hope this wasn't patronising or too obvious for anyone, I just feel like I've learnt a lot over the past few months and I wish I'd knew it before.
Hope this has helped!