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The Wizard Teaches a Pinstriping Primer – Part I

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pinstriping-primer-the-wizardThe ability to render circular shapes, and even 360’s, in pinstriping is imperative. As difficult as this task may seem, especially in performing really tight, small circles “there’s an old technique I’m going to share” that promises perfect circles every time. It’s a method that even the most fumble-fingered novice can accomplish with very little practice! Let’s do it.


step 1

After sanding the surface, mark off some grid lines with a Stabilo pencil to assure symmetry. Then, fold a multiple of small squares of masking tape, and stack them randomly in the center of two or three points on your grid.


step 2

In a film vile, mix your first color with just a little extra thinner. This calls for some experimentation on your part to achieve the right viscosity for the line width you desire.


step 3

Using an ordinary compass with this particular type of leadholder, dip into the paint mix. The holder has a screw adjustment that allows you to open and close it for various line widths “the tighter it’s closed, the thinner the line and vice versa. I promise that eventually, you’ll master the settings, so don’t sweat it.”


step 4

This is the line quality you’re after.


step 6

By placing the compass at a slight angle and walking it around in a circular shape, you can see that these shapes are possible. Some cautions: don’t press down too hard on the needle into the tape or you’ll puncture or dent the surface. Also, practice on a piece of cardboard or paper first to get the knack.

STEP 7 – 9:

step 7

step 8

step 9

Walk it around slowly and carefully; you must keep this angle on the compass for optimal flow of movement.

STEP 10:

step 10

Notice that some circles start at varying places on your grid. It’s really fun at this stage!

STEPS 11-14:




Using a Mack series 10 paintbrush, I connected the lines of a design. Using various “C” curves and a dagger style, this begins to look like something really cool!

STEP 15:

step 15

A light touch is necessary to keep your lines thin. Here, I switched to the Excalibur brush to complete the thinnest lines.

STEP 16:

step 16

Fills like these give a design dimension and adds bulk.

STEP 17 – 18:


Outlining with complementary colors elevates it to the next level. Slow way down here, mistakes are fatal.

STEP 19:

step 19

Very subtle shading gives the piece depth and interest. Don’t always use a bold color. The lines don’t necessarily have to scream at you. Next time, I’ll add several colors and a surprise airbrush touch to this piece before clearing it.

>> Continued on Part 2


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