In my own defence, I'm not finished painting this yet. But oof, what was I thinking? I mean, the base colour is okay, and the Red Cross symbols turned out all right considering I did them freehand, but that red trim is just awful.
My aim here was to paint this in the style of a real-life ambulance that I encountered in 1995. A friend of Jeff and Susan's came over to help them move, and he arrived in a vehicle something like this.
For big, straight lines like this, seriously consider using masking tape. Failing that, some nice, steady brushstrokes of white along the sides of the red you already have will tidy things up nicely.
Whoops, got a little white onto the red? No worries - some nice steady brushstrokes of red… etc. etc…
Straight, long lines, oh boy. Real car stripers use what's called a rigging brush, which has very long bristles, but not many of them. It's called a rigger because that's the brush you use when you paint rigging on a picture of a sailing ship.
It takes some practice to use a rigger, but if I can do it so can you. Just use some paint that you'll never use like pthalo green and practice on some plastic recycling. You should do warm-ups to make certain your hand is steady. I should send you some good exercises.
Then depending on accuracy versus smoothness, you hold the brush closer to or on the ferrule for accurate strokes or farther up the handle for smoothness.
You move your hand from the shoulder or maybe the elbow and draw the line from the top down so that the move feels natural: likely you will need to rotate the model. Keep your wrist as locked as possible. Try not to breathe. People who do this a lot will brace their painting wrist with their free wrist crossed underneath (hand facing down), or else they will make a movable brace out of handy scraps.
It's sort of as if your wrists are tied together crosswise in front of you with your palms facing away from you and your painting hand on top. You lock your wrists and pull down slowly but firmly with your shoulders, as if you are testing your bindings. Kind of BDSM, I guess, but you gain a lot of stability. I'd dress up like the girl in 50 Shades Of Grey if I knew it would get me the lines I wanted on the first try. Sorry for the mental image, there. Line quality is everything, though: all other considerations secondary, crew expendable.
Oh, and I meant to add that there are multiple sad endings to the story you told, I am most sorry to report. Doing that car up right would make a nice tribute. No pressure.
Another option, before I forget: a ruling pen. If you don't already have a good one, though, it might not be worth the effort. A ruling pen is something like a fountain pen with a needle tip. You use it to draw hair-thin lines in paint or ink. Then you can easily paint between the lines without making a mess.
Unfortunately, with computer-assisted drafting, real drafting tools are hard to come by. The ones the sell in art stores for rubes are tiny pieces of expensive misery. You need to seek out pens made in Germany, Switzerland, or Japan.
Ruling pens are harder to use than rigging brushes, since they can be difficult to load with paint and are finicky. However if you have a good one, you will make likes that look like those of a Great Master, even if you use a real cooked ham for your hand.
Yet more: You can use a ruler with a ruling pen, but you can also use one with a brush to get straight lines. It's best to have a ruler with a sharp edge, either a metal one or a wooden one with that sharp metal insert. I also have short rulers, just rulers snapped in half for doing small work.
The trick is to keep the body of the ruler off of the thing you are painting. You absolutely do not want the edge of the ruler to touch the surface that is getting paint. Put a few lengths of masking or duct tape on the bottom of the ruler so it sits maybe a millimeter higher than the surface, otherwise paint will bleed below the ruler.
A very short brush you can use with a ruler. A longer one like the rigger you can as well, but you may want the ruler higher up so that it guides the ferrule rather than the brush. You can use modelling clay to raise the ruler high enough, and the clay will form to the irregular surface of your model.
For curved lines like above the windshield, you could use a flexible French curve. These are easy to find in hobby stores, Staedtler makes good inexpensive ones. You simply bend the curve to what you want and it makes a fairly accurate curved line. They work well with pens and brushes.
The last thing I can think of is to invest in some frisket. This is basically glue mated with Silly Putty. You paint it on to the area you do not want painted and wait for it to dry. Then you paint over it. It will mask the stuff you don't want painted and is extremely easy to remove, leaving artistic blank areas in your painting.
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