Introduction to Dotting Tools

By | April 1, 2013

Whether you are new to the nail world or are a seasoned pro, if you’re interested in nail art there are several tools that are essential to have in your kit. Today I’m going to introduce you to one of the most common nail art tools, the dotting tool.

What is a dotting tool?

At the risk of sounding like a smart ass, a dotting tool is a tool used in nail art to create dots (amongst other things). They are generally a double-ended stick with a different sized metal ball on each end.

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What can I do with dotting tools?

Dotting tools are indispensable because of their versatility, and they’re useful no matter what your skill level is. You can use them to create simple dots, draw lines, and fill in larger areas of your work. Combining these techniques will allow you to create popular designs such as leopard print and camouflage. They can even be used to pick up rhinestones and studs when dipped into clear polish.

Image Source: Lab Muffin
Image Source: Nailed Obessesion

How do I use dotting tools?

Everyone will develop different techniques for using dotting tools, but I’m going to share my tips with you and you can alter them to suit yourselves.

– Rather than dipping the tool straight into the bottle of polish, I find it easiest to put a small blob of polish onto a piece of paper and dip the tool into that. It’s a bit more wasteful, but much cleaner.

– Put some thought into which size tool you’re going to use. For smaller dots and fine line work you want to pick a smaller tool than you would if you were going to create a big dot or fill in a large area of your art.

– To create a dot, dip your tool into the polish and gently touch the tool to your nail.

– To draw a line or fill in a large area, load your tool up with polish and carefully drag the tool along the nail’s surface.

– You will need to re-dip the tool into your polish often. If you find that it’s going a bit gunky, simply wipe the tool clean with some nail polish remover, and put a fresh blob of polish on your piece of paper.
Image Source: Shades of Phoenix
Image Source: Nailed Obsession

Where can I buy dotting tools, and are there alternatives?

Dotting tools can be bought on eBay and from Born Pretty Store for a couple of dollars for a pack of 5 in varying sizes. While I highly recommend buying a pack because the different sizes give you more freedom with your art, there are a few alternatives. The 3 most common substitutes are toothpicks, bobby pins, and sewing pins pushed into something soft (such as the eraser on the end of a pencil or a block of foam). If using these alternatives you can still achieve different sized dots to a certain extent by pressing the tool lightly against the nail for a smaller dot, and harder for a larger dot.

Anthea is currently studying a Bachelor of Business majoring in Marketing and Japanese, and has a qualification in Fashion Design and Technology. When she’s not busy cramming for her next exam she’s working on her nail polish label Sayuri, and blogging at Nailed Obsession. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram (@anthea_nailedobsession).

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