Pinstriping (basic Design)




I've dabbled in pretty much everything. If I haven't odds are I'd like to learn how and try it. I...

Intro: Pinstriping (basic Design)

There are a few aspects that make a good pinstriper. The ability to handle a brush, the ability to use just the right amount of paint, the knowledge of when to stop, the ability to draw symmetrically, the ability to create a pattern that is not only cool but works with, not against, the shape of the item that is being striped. Practice. I could go on.

Good pinstriping adds an atmosphere to an item, enhancing or adding qualities to make it seem more complete.

That was my little Zen of Pinstriping lesson.

Most stripes will be laid on cars, motorcycles, or other vehicles, using paint and a striping brush. But trust me, you don't want to start on your car and screw up. And, trust me again here, you will screw up. The ability to see something in your mind's eye and faithfully replicate it in the physical wold is a skill that comes with practice.

Today, we will be practicing on paper, with a Marks-a-Lot marker. These are a pain in the ass for jobs like this, but I'm out of Sharpies and Wal-Mart was having a sale. Now I have 50 of these markers, and I'm getting used to them. Use one kind of marker and stick with it.

Practice basic ways of starting, getting your design even, line weights, spacing, etc. These will pay off when we move on to paint and brushes.

Plus, many things can be striped with a marker, making them that much cooler. I guarantee you will be doodling in pinstripe on everything that will stand still before you're done.

Step 1: Get a Feel for Your Marker

Whatever you're using to stripe with, get a feel for it. Draw cruves, straight lines, perpendicular lines. Vary line weight. You got it so you can control it and do what you want to do with it? Now let's get started.

Step 2: A Point to Start From

Draw a stright line. Don't try and work without some point of symmetry to work with. On a car, it might me a sharp contour line that you aren't going to paint, but on this blank featureless paper, you need a line.

Draw it. Straight. As near the middle as you can.

Step 3: Frame Your Centerline

That means, draw two major lines on either side. Notice how mine have a little curve to them, that we don't want there. Don't get in a hurry to finish your instrcutable, or that will happen! In fact, with this one, I eventually got so ahead of myself and in a hurry that I screwed it up too much to fix. That happens, but it shouldn't. Slow down. Take a deep breath. Move slow and you'll be fine. Rush yourself, cut corners, and let your attention wander, and you get to do it all over again.

If you are right-handed, draw the left side first. Then do the right. That way, you can see the other side as a reference. Get used to using your peripheral vision to get it right. Especially with curves, it will take you a while to get this right. be picky about it.

Your left side will be smooth. Your right side will be wobbly, unsure, and possibly out of whack. Practice until you no longer have this problem. You will be making a lot of paper airplanes out of your mistakes. Start a private air force.

Step 4: Build Off of Your Frames

You don't need to have this next item touch your centerline, or the two main lines around it. Running parallel for a time and then curving away, not quite touching, has a different effect altogether. Get used to the different sorts.

Yes, mine are out of whack. It will only get worse-- I was trying to blaze through this at a mile a minute, and it shows. In fact, pretty soon, I screwed this one up and started another one more carefully to demonstrate on from there.

Don't get ahead of yourself!

Step 5: Make a Pattern

Pay attention not only to the individual parts and areas, but to the overall shape that you are creating.

If you look at most stripes on hot rods and such, you will notice that they are comprised largely of curved lines, and in general those are laid out so as to be concave.

The last one (labeled "No!") is one that you might be able to get away with if you can integrate it well. But most of the time, it won't work.

Some people like lots of curves, others lots of points. Some people like to have lines come close, but rarely touch. Find your own style.

Pay attention. Small wavers and inconsistencies will come back to bite you. If you made those earlier, you will have to be careful and plan so as to balance them out. See where I got distracted and royally put my foot in it? Use multiple points of reference, and only go fast enough that you can still be smooooooth.

Step 6: Sudden Change of Pattern!

No you're not hallucinating, this is actually a new pattern. But that doesn't mean that those odd mushrooms on that pizza you just ate were just shittakkes.

Note how on this one, I used a straightedge to form the centerline, two framing lines, and the horizontal cross-lines. I actually measured distance, but you could eyeball it, too. I liked the crisp edge that the straightedge gave me.

Note on fixing mistakes: sometimes they are unfixable. Most of the time, you just have to let them slide and carefully continue, making sure to draw attention away from the skewed area. Sometimes, counterintuitively, that means adding more things in that area. Most of the time, it doesn't.

Step 7: Finish and Embellish

Some designs are meant to flow like water, while others are more of a splash of interest intended to break up a large area. Know what you want to convey with your design. Good pinstriping is like good music--the personality and perspective of the artist are apparent. it has atmosphere, and a purpose.

See the photos? Subtle change, noticeable difference in feel.

Step 8: Know When to Stop!

Don't overdo it. Don't overdraw, or overthink. Don't underdraw, either. There is both tyrrany and beauty in blank space. Don't go too slow, but don't rush. Find your balance. Don't be afraid to stop and come back to it. You just might discover that you really were done, after all.

Do just enough that it complements the subject. I could cover this plane, but I won't. I'm just accenting its shape. Learn to do that, and then you'll be a good striper.



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    16 Discussions


    5 years ago on Step 3

    GREAT piece of advice, i sculpt small portraits, and having that left side to look at helps a lot with the symmetry! Using the peripheral vision also helps with the sizes of the negative spaces.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    basically, you hold the brush between your thumb & forefinger, much as you would a pen. hold it at the ferrule (the green/blue cord wrapping) with the flat side towards you, so the brush looks like a knife ( hence the "sword" name of the brush). you then use one or 2 of the rest of the fingers on that hand to maintain pressure & angle while you stripe. the main thing is consistency. pinstriping is just like making love. just because you do it different than me don't make it wrong lol. look on youtube for videos of stripers in action for a clearer understanding of how-to. -Otto


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Similar to holding an exacto knife and making a large, smooth cut. You want to hold one to two inches back from the working tip of the instrument, and focus on where it is going, not so much where it is right now.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    pinstriping with markers is honestly something i never have tried. may have to give it a shot later. anyhow, pinstriping is a blast. i encourage everyone to give it a try. right off the bat, it'll bite. lots of practice, screwups, and do- overs later, you'll have it. i've been doing it for about 3 years now, and have done everything from cars, trucks, tip jars, bikes, car parts, mailboxes, even toilet seats! point is, take your time, have fun, and remember, it's just paint! -Otto

    1 reply

    It's been ages since I've done pinstriping, I actually picked up a new sharpie from my desk and worked away creating a magnificently squinty bit of stuff on a random page...

    Damn you, making me do things that annoy me...

    see below for why pinstriping annoys me

    7 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I like your use of straight lines. You don't see stuff like that a lot, but it looks good. And I can feel the annoyance from here.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I always liked putting a nice set of straight lines out as a kind of plane for the curves... Thanks, also I was considering doing a few in PS, want an 'ible...


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Pinstripe in Photoshop? It would feed my addiction to image-editing... probably not an addiction I should be feeding, but whatever.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Think about this, changing line width with a couple of clicks, perfect symmetry and you can refine and adjust it any time you feel like it, I would say using vectors is better so I'll have a play with it and see how it goes, I used to pinstripe on notepads all the time but boredom doodling shouldn't be a frustrating exercise so I did cartoons instead...


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Very Zen! I'm always impressed by people who have the creativity to bring artistic compositions out of nothing more than curved lines, doubly so for "tribal" patterns (I know they are a little trite, but I love them anyway). The last image reminds me of The Citadel...