I have to say though, I found it hard to write this How To: and I hope I'm making sense =) I'm using the words calm and chaotic, I wasn't sure how to describe things different. And of course it's also personal, what works for me might not work for you. Anyway :) here we go:
Keep it calm.
My goal when picking the stuff I use for a stamped mani, is to keep things calm. If you use a glitter base, and stamp with a shimmer and a chaotic image, it looks to me like there's too much going on! So when I choose my polishes and image, I automatically try to keep most of them calm. And if I then want a little something extra, I can always use some glitter, color, rhinestones, etc. on the stamped mani.
I usually start with picking a base color from my nail wheels, then grab my nail wheels with all my stamping polishes, and find a nice match.
For me cremes are calm, and subtle shimmers as well. Frosts, foils, metallics, etc. are often not. The type of finish that you use can make a lot of difference, it can add something to a mani, or make it look a bit messy. I'll show some examples further below.
I love the same colors combined, and combinations that are often close to each other in lightness. So if I pick a light basecolor, I pick a similar stamping color that's also on the lighter side. I almost always prefer a creme as base and I often go for a darker tone as stamping polish.
Here's what I mean:
From left to right: medium on light, medium on medium, dark on light.
The dark on light combo can work as well of course, especially when you really want your image to stand out, but I tend to go for the other options that are closer to each other.
Picking an image.
Now depending on the polishes that I chose, I pick an image. For images where there's a lot going on, I use a creme or a polish with a very subtle shimmer to stamp with, for calmer images I also use other finishes as stamping polish.
I think that for example most striped images are more calm, and images with lots of small details and swirly bits and stuff are more chaotic. I'm not sure how to explain this better, lol, but I usually try to imagine how it'll look on my nails and go from there, or when I'm not sure I test my combo on a nail wheel or placemat first :) If I don't like it then, a small change in color or finish can work wonders!
Left is a calmer image, right a more chaotic one.
Of course a tiger stripe doesn't really look calm on my nails, but imagine the right image stamped on the left base. That would be too much for my liking, especially if the image would be stamped in a metallic or some.
Here you can see the difference between a more chaotic image stamped with a polish with metallic finish, and that image stamped with a subtle shimmer.
The same image, but stamped with a different finish.
See how the purple makes the image stand out, and the metallic makes it look a lot more blurry? So even though I love stamping with metallics, for a more chaotic image like the one used here, I'd go for a calmer stamping polish. If you do want to use the image and finish that you picked, then a different color as base or stamping polish can help as well.
Here's another example, stamped with a foil and a subtle shimmer.
Again the same image, but stamped with a different finish.
Now I'm not saying that the more chaotic ones look bad, because I sometimes like that kind of manicure as well :) But in general I prefer my stamping to look like the images on the right side, where the image pops out more.
With calmer images metallics etc. can add something to the mani, like on the 2 below. There the finish and the images worked nice together!
Creme base, calmer image, metallic stamping polish.
Now sometimes you can still end up with a chaotic result, even if you use a calmer image and stamp with a creme. But it's often possible to fix this though and make it more calm again. How? Easy!
Here's an example of that.
There's a bit too much going on for my liking. But wait...Tadaaa!
See what a difference it is with a matte top coat? It helps the image stand out more. So if you're not sure about the result, mattify it, that might do the trick!
So in short:
-Put your stamping polishes on a different nail wheel for easy combining.
-Using the same colors and lightness of colors often helps to keep things calm.
-The finish of your polishes can make a huge difference, and a creme as base is often a good way to start.
-Pick an image that will be complemented by your polishes, so all the details stand out nicely.
-Test your combo first on a wheel or a placemat (plastic alike will do too of course) if you ain't sure if it'll work or not, and change the color or finish if it's not what you wanted.
-If there's too much going on, try mattifying your mani.
-If you want to spice things up, you can always add things to your mani, like another stamped image, rhinestones, glitter, etc.
-And lastly, have fun trying out different combinations, even if they don't turn out so well! I'm not always crazy about my combinations either, but they can give other ideas as well :)
For stamping and polish tips, please have a look at my How To: Stamping!, and my Stamping Polish page :)