Few things are as difficult to master as the brush-perfect straight line or the beautifully executed symmetry of two opposing arcs.
How else can you get the satisfaction of perfecting your design on a ’40 Ford deck lid, knowing that you did this after much practice, discipline and sacrifice? Transfer tactics: Often beginners need assistance with patterns. If you decide to build a ‘pattern morgue’ (or library), it’s a good idea to develop a system. For instance, categorize them according to motorcycle fenders, hot rod hood designs, etc. For the actual patterns, many professionals use a pencil to make the pattern on a folded sheet of paper. They begin with half at a time (see photo I ) , and then transfer it to a light table or window to finish the other half (see photo 2).
Next, to shift the design onto the car, you need a transfer medium, such as SaralB Transfer Paper. This ‘carbon’ allows you to center your design, trace it and paint it onto the vehicle. Caution i s required here to copy it perfectly.
The tendency i s to paint over whichever lines you see, and if not copied accurately, your design will suffer.
An easier and less expensive transfer process requires chalk or pastel sticks (the good ones-sidewalk chalk won’t work). Lightly rub the chalk onto the back of the design, then smear it off with your hand (see photo 3) and gently wipe it with a cloth to remove most of the dust.
If you don’t wipe it, you’ll have a dusty mess to paint over. Try this method and you’ll love it! (See photos 4 and 5.) Everything begins with inspiration: Assuming you have kept up with these strokes, you should be ready to learn assembly.
Putting the strokes together to form designs is not rocket science, but there are principles to consider. Key among these: balance, symmetry and occupation. Occupation of space may seem a given, but if you study designs on panels, fenders and hoods, you will notice that some pinheads take up too much space with too much color.
As a result, you can end up with something over the top or even offensive. You will likely gravitate to one style or another based on what you see others do. Ironically, this isn’t considered copying by stripers. Rather than believing ourselves copyists, we like to look at ourselves as “inspired by’s”.
In fact, if you could read minds at Pinhead or Letterhead events, you would see a lot of inspiration going on. We all love to see each other’s best stuff and help ourselves to it. There are long-standing disputes as to who invented a style or stroke. Basic design has been around for a long time.
The so called “originators” of designs or styles would be humbled after a visit to museums exhibiting armor engravings from the Middle Ages. Photos of Native American war ponies with graphics painted on them are also reminiscent of the work we do today. Seems like men have always painted their ponies one way or another to make them stand out from the crowd.
Starting your design: an advanced method Unless I have a reference, such as a chrome strip, paint line, car or bike, tape is my starting point. So begin with a straight line of tape centered vertically down your panel. (See photo 6.) O n either side of the tape, using a StabiloB pencil and a light stroke, draw a line down either side of the tape, indicating the center. Remove the tape and pallet up your first color. (NOTE: I will leave color choice to you at this point because we are iust practicing. Color theory will come later. and believe me, it’s crucial to your training.)
Pull a long, graceful left-sided ‘C’ curve down the lefi side of center, followed by a connecting right-sided ‘C’ curve. Voile, your foundation! From here, we build. (See photo 7.) Remember, we are focusing on occupation at this point. HOW much of this area are we going to take up, (not hog up), and occupy with color and design? And are we doing this design more than once, such as on both front fenders of a hot rod? If so, we should measure up from the headlight bezel or some other point.
Now make marks on both fenders so that they match up. Many stripers make patterns and either pounce or SaralB transfer them onto the fender first. but you will be able to skip this step once you are accomplished. If you’re initially comfortable with a pattern. that’s fine-make several.
This is actually a good practice as it teaches you to feel but astyle of your own. Making designs with a pencil is not like using a brush, but your eye will benefit greatly. After the “teardrop” or “scallop” is laid down, you can begin reinforcing it with a similar curve on either side. (See photo 8.)
Once you are satisfied with the shape, continue. Don’t like it? Wipe it! Keep working at it until you are satisfied. Build out from the center (see photo 9), stray from the foundation, then build down (see photo 10). But be careful.
Leaning too far off center-too soon causes imbalance, loss of symmetry and eventual disaster. Here’s where many beginners make grids with the StabiloB for accurate connecting points. These wipe off with a pencil eraser after the paint is dry, which is handy, since they’re a true indication that you ‘worked with a net’.
If you need guide lines like this at first, use them. The integrity of the design is your ultimate signature. Once these lines are wiped off, and long after you’re gone, the perfect symmetry will be a testimony of your talent and design prowess. You will eventually wean yourself from dependence on this method.
After you study your first design, and are content that it is sufficient, mix a complementary second color. Reinforcing the first color is the goal. Don’t head off into another direction, confusing your original idea. Just add a little color to it (see photo 12). Keep it simple at this point. That’s enough for this session. Keep practicing, and when you think you have it down, start all over again. The secret to good crossovers is to hit them hard. Soft angles muddy up the design. Crisp, hard 45- and 90- degree angles make designs strong and appealing.
Tip: A good clean up tool for very tight spaces (where the finger is just too big) is the E-Z DABBER b y E-Z Mix@ Similar to a Q-Tip, this little bugger gets you in where it’s just too tight. I found them at the auto parts stare where I buy my airbrushing base coats, or you can check out www.ezmix.com