Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Exo Designs Master Post

Last Updated January 25th, 2022

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm super pumped about SM bringing EXO'luXion to North America! I'm even more pumped that exo will be coming to Canada (even though it's Vancouver which is all the way across the country) and that I'll be going to the concert!! 

For my fellow exo-l's who will be attending exo's NA tour dates, I've decided to make a compilation post of all of my exo nail designs to date in case anyone's feeling creative and wants to sport some exo-inspired nails on concert day! 

I'll be walking through each of the manicures and giving some details regarding what I believe to be the level of difficulty of each design as well as some tips on recreating them!
Most recent designs are listed first, (click on the date listed to be taken to the original post).


December 17th, 2021
Difficulty: Expert

Do you prefer hard or soft peaches? For this music video, it seems that Kai went with soft peaches (which he also chose in an interview, and I unfortunately have to disagree with him - hard peaches all the way!). Since the visuals for this album and music video were a bit softer than MMMH, so is my design. I leaned into pastels for a couple of nails, and some brighter colours as well for some of the traditional scenes. The middle and ring nails were challenging, which is why this design got an expert rating. You can find the tutorial here!

August 25th, 2021
Difficulty: Intermediate

Another exo has gotten a solo debut! You know your group is stacked when basically every member gets a solo. From his debut album Empathy, it seems like D.O.'s persona style is a bit more on the folksy side compared to the other members, and I love it just as much. For this design, I tried to follow the story of the mv where Kyungsoo rides his bike around, and a rose blooms over the course of the mv. I would have put this as beginner, but that bike is a bit difficult. You can find the tutorial here!

Don't Fight the Feeling
June 11th, 2021
Difficulty: Intermediate

As much as I love all the members' solo work, nothing makes me quite as happy as a group comeback. As a special album, Don't Fight the Feeling hit all the feels, with its parallels to Power, and its space themes. While it didn't get a ton of promotion, the promotion it did get - namely the EXO Ship Saga Game - inspired this look. I really liked the Gamboy-esque promo photo they had for it, and channeled that here. You can try the look out for yourself here.
May 5th, 2021
Difficulty: Intermediate

Baekhyun sure put together one hell of an album before his enlistment. Bambi is definitely a departure from the charming vibes in Candy - here, he really does go for "30 Sexy" Baekhyun. In honour of his darker concept, I went with a bit of a darker design for Bambi. The background is supposed to look like rain at night (bam-bi), while the thumb features the Bambi himself. If you want to try this design for yourself, you can check out the tutorial here.
December 4th, 2020
Difficulty: Expert

After many months of waiting, we were finally blessed with Kai's first solo album K匀I! Since Jongin's my ult, I've been anxiously anticipating his solo debut and it did not disappoint! I loved the R&B style he went for, and I especially appreciated all of the time and effort put into the teasers and music video for MMMH! This designs is inspired by both the music video and the album contents, and I chose an expert rating for it because of the portrait. You can check out the tutorial here!

1 Billion Views

July 25th, 2020
Difficulty: Intermediate

Oddly enough, as a title track, I think I liked 1BV better than What a Life (or I at least liked it better on first listen), but I like my design for What a Life wayyy more than my 1BV design. So nothing against the song, but I just. I don't know. Am not satisfied with this design? I had a hard time planning it, and I don't know that what I landed on is my best work. But, the design phase has come and gone, so it is what it is. If this is to your taste and you'd like to try it out, you can find the tutorial here!

June 7th, 2020
Difficulty: Expert

On the surface, I feel like Lit isn't the type of song I'd generally listen to, BUT I literally get chills every single time I hear that first chorus, and I'm still blown away by the grandeur of the music video. That dragon? Still can't get over it and, full disclosure, this dragon eye might be my favourite thing I've ever painted. I had literally no clue how I would paint it when I planned it, but it somehow turned out well! Clearly the eye and the logo made this expert level, but check out the tutorial if you want to give it a go!


May 28th, 2020
Difficulty: Intermediate

This design for Baekhyun's Candy may possibly be one of my favourite sets of 2020 (along with the set for Lit). I struggled a lot with the sheer purple polish (the pigmentation was soooo low) but it was worth if for how the design turned out. The jelly look really fits the album concept, and I'm really happy with how consistent the colour scheme is. The shading on the balloon and the candy wrapper gave this look it's intermediate rating. You can find the tutorial here!

Let's Love
April 4th, 2020
Difficulty: Expert

What a surprise that the exo with the most aesthetic IG feed would also have a super aesthetic first solo album. I loved the whole painterly, Van-Gogh-esque style Junmyeon went for with his album concept, and I also loved the pseudo-rock-ballad sound he went for with the title track! With the title of the album being Self Portrait, I thought it was appropriate to include a couple portraits of Suho in the design - painting people is hard though, so that's why I gave this an expert rating. Check out the tutorial here!

December 1st, 2019
Difficulty: Intermediate

Even though we were totally robbed of seeing what X-Xiumin, X-Lay, and X-DO would have looked like, exo still killed it with 6 members for their comeback with Obsession. Since SM gave me a relatively easy logo to work with this comeback, it was totally up to me to make this design difficult for myself, which I did by painting Sehun's eye. ðŸ˜‚ In spite of the eye, I gave this design an intermediate rating because the other nails aren't too, too complicated. Find the tutorial here!

November 9th, 2019
Difficulty: Beginner

What can I say? EXO's teasers got me again! Being the nail artist that I am, I immediately clocked Kai and Sehun's grungy looking nails when I watched their first concept trailer for Obsession. As soon as I saw that I knew I wanted to create my own version of their nails. While I do have a full tutorial for this look that you can find here, this design is really all about messily applying black polish randomly onto your nail - have fun with it!
Dear My Dear
October 5th, 2019
Difficulty: Expert

Just like with his first mini album, I knew exactly what I wanted to paint for this design as soon as the album cover for Jongdae's second album was released. This nighttime scene is so pretty - I love all of the colours. I also loved this album a lot; Jongdae really blessed us this year. I gave this design an expert rating because while you don't really have to be all that exact with the colours for it to still look good, it can be difficult to pull of a cross-nail design like this. Check out the full tutorial here!
What a Life
July 27th, 2019
Difficulty: Expert

In 2019 we saw the debut of exo's second sub-unit, EXO-SC! I have to be honest, I wasn't really sure about the style of music the first couple times I listened to the album, but after putting it on repeat for a while I can definitely say I'm into it! This design took a mix of inspiration from the MV and the album concept, and is one of my favourites of the year. The expert label is, pretty obviously, due to the two portraits I decided I just had to paint. Check out the tutorial here!
UN Village
Difficulty: Intermediate

Okay, so I know just below this I say that Jongdae is my favourite vocalist in exo, and like, he is, but I'm such a sucker for the R&B style that Baekhyun's decided to pursue with his solo work - I love the City Lights album and UN Village So. Much. This album was honestly one of my favourites of the year and I had fun with the design. I gave this one an intermediate rating because honestly, people are hard to paint. Click here for the tutorial!

April, and a Flower
April 8th, 2019
Difficulty: Intermediate

I was so, so hyped when I heard that Jongdae was getting a solo album. I may be Jongin biased, but Jongdae is right behind him and is my favourite vocalist of the group (don't get me wrong, I love them all!! His voice just suits my taste the most). As soon as the album teasers came out I knew that I wanted to paint this version of the album cover on my nails, and the sparseness of the mv just reaffirmed my decision. I wavered between intermediate and expert for this and really I only put it as intermediate because I think the hand in Love Shot is harder to paint ðŸ€·‍♀️ Click here for the tutorial!

Love Shot
December 15th, 2018
Difficulty: Expert

Oh, Love Shot. Tempo may have been the more musically interesting song, but I'll never get bored of watching the Love Shot music video. I had a deep-rooted need to include the point choreo in this design which is how I ended up painting a whole realistic hand on my nail. The hand and the eyes are why I gave this design an expert rating because I personally find realism difficult to manage with nail polish. Give it a try for yourself by following the tutorial!

November 4th, 2018
Difficulty: Expert

From the album teasers I thought this mv was going to be a lot more desert-y (clearly I haven't yet learned to never trust SM's teasers ðŸ™„) but it actually ended up returning to the classic red/white/black colour scheme. The expert label is specifically for the thumbnail which took me over 2 hours to paint just by itself. The other nails I feel are intermediate. If you want to check out the process for yourself, you can find the tutorial here!

October 24th, 2018
Difficulty: Intermediate

Designs for members' solo work also deserve to be in the exo master list. I was really happy with how this design turned out for Lay's 2018 solo - I think the black/tan/gold colour scheme really fit the video well. I gave this design an intermediate rating because it's a bit of a combination between easier elements (the NAMANANA nails) and more difficult ones (the ring finger). Check out the tutorial if you want to recreate it!

Blooming Day
May 7th, 2018
Difficulty: Intermediate

The music video for Blooming Day was so pretty (can we just talk about the styling?? whoever worked on that mv deserves a raise) and I really tried to capture all the flowers and the its minimalist style. I don't think recreating this design would be particularly hard, but the layered gradient and the small little letters on the thumb may be a bit of a challenge. If you're up for it you can find the tutorial here!

December 29th, 2017
Difficulty: Expert

Universe was and remains to be my favourite exo Christmas album - possibly my overall favourite exo album, but there's some tough competition. I love how warm the music video is, and I'm happy I was able to capture that in the design. The toughest parts of this design for me were the thumb, obviously, because of the shading, and also the water marbling. I swear I used half a bottle of polish trying to get the marble to look right. You can check out the tutorial here

September 19th, 2017
Difficulty: Expert

This design brought me back to all the galaxy print nails I did for exo back in the day. The expert label for this design is less for the main body of the design - though the shading on the plugs is a bit of a hassle - and more for the thumb because man, that arms logo was a pain to paint. If you're up for the challenge, you can find the full tutorial here!

The Power of Music
September 8th, 2017
Difficulty: Intermediate

I really am a sucker for some good exo teasers. Another design based off of the teasers for exo's comeback, this set features each member's power orb. I used the teasers posted on SM's official Instagram for the colours of the orbs (I know they're different from what was shown in the music video - take it up with SM). The only reason this design is landing in the intermediate category is that the symbols and dots are pretty small, otherwise I think this is a pretty doable design. Check out the (OT9) tutorial for it here!

August 3rd, 2017
Difficulty: Beginner

I know some other people did this as well, but after seeing Sehun rocking some nail art during Ko Ko Bop promotions I wanted to recreate his nails for myself! This definitely takes the crown for easiest and most achievable exo nail design on this list, so if this is something you want to try out then you can head over here to take a peek at the tutorial!

Ko Ko Bop
July 27th, 2017
Difficulty: Expert

Ko Ko Bop offered another change in music and music video style, but I was happy for the opportunity to create a colourful, summery exo design since a lot of them tend to focus heavily on black, white, and red. The tiny little logos are what makes this an expert level design for me, as well as the lettering which is always a fun task. Check out the tutorial for this design here if you want to recreate this look!

The War: Ko Ko Bop
July 12th, 2017 (No Full Post Available)
Difficulty Level: Expert

SM was really testing my creativity with the teasers for this comeback. I had just gotten back from Korea and after not painting anything for like a month there I was, trying to combine three logos into one and doing intricate detail work. The small details and the shading here are why I'm giving this design an expert designation, and while I don't have a tutorial for this logo-mashup specifically, by Ko Ko Bop tutorial walks you through how to make each individual logo.

May 7th, 2017
Difficulty Level: Expert

CBX's Japanese debut music video was very casino focused, so this design is slot-machine inspired. This probably isn't the absolute hardest design I've ever done, but the layering and the tiny intricacies may be a little difficult. If you want to see how the look was accomplished, you can check the tutorial out here!

For Life
January 11th, 2017
Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Exo winter releases are my jam tbh. A lot of things went on behind the scenes of this design including having to buy new polishes just for the amber nail but it was all worth it because this is probably one my my favourite exo designs. I'm calling this an intermediate design because once you get a handle on the thin paint technique this design is pretty achievable. The amber is definitely my favourite part of this design, though you may need to get some new polishes for it. You can check out the tutorial for this design here!

Hey Mama!
November 15th, 2016
Difficulty Level: Expert

2016 saw the debut of exo's first official (non k or m) subunit, exo-cbx! I really like the vibe of this unit (who wouldn't though with Jongdae, Baekhyun, and Xiumin's personalities) and I thought the mv was cool even if I had no idea what was going on. I had a hard time trying to summarize the music video in a nail design, but I'm pretty satisfied with what I came up with. The reason I say this is expert level is mostly because of the gun, though the logos are a bit intricate too. Check out the tutorial for this design here!
Dancing King
September 28th, 2016
Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Ok, so I know this wasn't technically a promotional song but it was just such a fun song that I had to do a design for it. While this design is basically all freehand, it isn't super, super intricate so I think it falls into the intermediate category. You can check out the tutorial for this design here.

August 20th, 2016
Difficulty Level: Expert

Lotto was a pretty different song for exo but I really enjoyed it! The mv was pretty interesting too but didn't give me a lot to work with design-wise. The reason I think this design deserves an expert rating is that it's literally all intricate freehand; no easy shortcuts or techniques. If you're comfortable with small detail work then this design shouldn't be that hard to recreate, but if not then it might be a bit challenging. You can check out the tutorial here if you want to see how I did this design!

Lucky One
June 15th 2016
Difficulty Level: Intermediate

There isn't much freehand involved in this design, but I'll label it as intermediate anyways because of the numbers on the ring finger and the logo on the pinky. This isn't exactly my favourite exo design as of late, but the shattered glass on the middle finger is still such a fun and easy technique to do! Find the full tutorial for this design here!

June 12th, 2016
Difficulty Level: Intermediate

While the fake nail piercing and cut up jump rings might seem daunting, the rest of the design is relatively straight-forward to recreate. In addition, if you don't feel like cutting up any jump rings you can always swap those out for some silver polish, making the design even easier. Check out the full tutorial for the design here!

No Full Post Available
Difficulty Level: Beginner to Expert

This is the second time now that I've been so hyped by the teasers for exo's comeback that I did a design inspired just by the comeback previews! Mind you it wasn't a full design, but I still couldn't resist painting the logos for "Lucky One" and "Monster" on my thumbs. If you want to recreate this: for Monster, check out my Moschino design from a while back to see bigger versions of the bones; for Lucky One, start off with a + and then add the round bits to the outsides!

February 12, 2015
Difficulty Level: Intermediate

My concert nails! I feel like this design is a hybrid of my CMB and LMR designs (see below). Freehand lettering is always a bit of a challenge, but since you can use vinyls for the other nails I think this design is around an intermediate level. As you can see, I changed the "02" to "88" since I'm Kai biased, but you can use whatever numbers you like for this design. Check out the video tutorial for it here!

Sing For You
December 19th, 2015
Difficulty Level: Expert

I really love this design, but I've yet to see anyone try to recreate it. This probably has to do with the intricacy of the design, but if you want to give it a go then the video tutorial for it (which can be found here) should give you a good idea of where to start!

November 14th, 2015
Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Since this design is mostly just a galaxy base with some added stuff over top I don't think it's super difficult, but I know that lettering can be an absolute pain so I'll put this design in the medium-difficulty-level-category. This design also has a tutorial (yay!) so click here to see how to recreate this design!

Love Me Right
June 6th, 2015
Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Again, I'm mostly just putting this in the medium category because of the lettering. Other than that the base is pretty straightforward - the acetone marbling is super fun and easy and the tips of the jersey-nails are done using striping tape. This is was most viewed tutorial on youtube at one point (check it out for yourself here) and is probably tied with my CMB design for the title of my most recreated/uncredited design. (Please remember to credit!!)

Call Me Baby
April 2nd, 2015
Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Lettering. Enough said.
This is another one of my favourite exo designs. It took me forever to design but I think the end result is so clean and really representative of that era. Aaaaaand as a little surprise in honour of the NA tour, I finally got around to filming a tutorial for this design (and only 9 months after the fact, lol)!

March 25th, 2015
Difficulty Level: Beginner

I'm just realizing now that this is literally the only design on this list without a proper tutorial. The process behind it is pretty easy though so I'll explain it now. Paint all nails solid black. Once the polish is completely dry use a makeup sponge to dab white polish in a semi-circle on the insides of your middle and ring finger nails. Once the white polish is dry, use a detail brush to paint a black semi-circle over top that doesn't quite reach the edge of the white gradient. Outline the semi-circles in white polish and use a makeup sponge again to dab a small circle of white polish at the edge of one of the semi-circles.

August 6th, 2014
Difficulty Level: Intermediate

More galaxy nails! This design was from when SM had just announced exo's official fanclub name and launched the official exo-l app. The constellations in the design were meant to represent the 11 members who were in the group at the time, but given the current OT9 status you may want to make some adjustments to that (or turn it into OT12. Whatever floats your boat). Tutorial for this design can be found here.

May 29th, 2014
Difficulty Level: Expert

Wow we're really getting back to my old designs here. Even a year and a half later I still look at this and marvel at my own patience with those hexagons. Obviously if you choose to recreate this design you wouldn't have to make the lines quite that thin if you don't want to, but whatever you choose, a tutorial for how to go about painting the hexagons can be found here!

Miracles in December
December 18th, 2013
Difficulty Level: Beginner

Ah, my MiD manicure. This is basically just exo's winter/snowflake logo painted over and over, but it's a pretty easy and cute design to replicate. The pictorial for this design can be found here, and the video tutorial for my Sing For You design (above) also shows you how to paint this specific logo.
July 16th, 2013
Difficulty Level: Intermediate

To be completely honest here, I'm not the biggest fan of this design and I almost didn't include it in this list even though it is an exo design and therefore belongs here. This design was inspired by exo's wolf drama version and you can see the individual scenes it was inspired by in the original post. I don't have a tutorial for this design, but here's a few tips: the eye was done with acrylic paint; the base for the index finger is black sugar polish; I blew red polish out of a straw for the blood splatter on the middle finger; the ring finger is individually placed gold caviar beads; and the pinky finger is freehand shimmery blue polish over beige.

June 1st, 2013
Difficulty Level: Intermediate

My first ever exo design! Tbh the only part of this design I still like are the wolves on the thumbs, but maybe that's just me being harsh on my past self. If you want to try this design out the video tutorial is here (also my first ever video tutorial) but uh, might I recommend watching it on mute? I may or may not cringe when I think about how poor quality basically everything about this video is so please keep in mind that it's definitely not up to my current standards, lol!

And there you have it: my entire collection of exo-inspired designs!

If you do decide to recreate any of these manicures for the concert (or any other time) please, please, please remember to credit me! I've spent countless hours planning, painting, editing, and writing about these designs and it's frustrating when I see someone post a manicure that is very obviously my design with no mention whatsoever of where they got their inspiration from.
For photos posted on Instagram and Tumblr the tag that I track for recreations of my designs is #looknyanails (I'd really, really love to see your designs!).

Now that I've gotten that bit of seriousness out of the way, I hope everyone going to the NA tour dates has a great time and if you're going to the Vancouver concert on Feb. 12th then maybe I'll see you there! I'm dragging my friend along with me so if you see an excited-looking blonde girl with her less-than-enthusiastic friend, come up and say hi! :D


No comments:

Post a Comment