Freehand nail art is the act of painting an image onto a fingernail or toenail, using a nail polish brush or nail polish pen. This differs from airbrushed nail art, where a stencil is placed over the nail and the nail polish is airbrushed over top of the stencil, leaving a perfectly airbrushed image behind. Freehand nail art typically takes more skill than airbrushed nail art, simply because it requires the person painting the nail art to be able to create a recognizable image freehand.
Freehand nail art might make use of only one color in the image; for instance, if one is drawing a heart or a star. It may also make use of a number of different colors if the image is more complex. Flowers are quite popular, and these often use different colors for the stem and leaves. Seasonal items, such as pumpkins, holiday images, or summer themed images such as fireworks are also very common, and these generally use a few different colors in the image as well. It is important to contrast the colors in the image with the painted color of the nail, so the images stand out and can be noticed.
Nail polish pens are commonly used to create freehand nail art because they allow the user to be more precise. It can be difficult to create smooth lines on a tiny image just using a nail polish brush, and nail polish pens are available in hundreds of different colors. It will take a few extra minutes on a manicure or pedicure to create freehand art; generally, it will be necessary for a nail technician to do it, because it can be difficult to use one's non-dominant hand to draw a picture on the opposite fingernail.
Some people choose to put a freehand nail art image on each nail, while others may only select one or two nails for the image. This is especially common on the toes; it may only be possible to put the image on the largest toe, because the other nails will be too small. Keep in mind that freehand nail art is not the only option for adding images to the fingernails and toenails. Airbrushing, as mentioned above, is a fast and easy way to add images to the nails, and different colors can be used; in addition, nail stickers or decals are an easy way to add a picture to the nail oneself, because it does not require any skill.