Thursday, 7 February 2013

How to Paint Perfectly Straight Lines - A Simple Guide

A rare instructional post on Memoirs of a Visible Man.

Getting a straight line when painting, without any bleed or messiness is an extremely useful skill to have as an artist or for general DIY purposes.

With the creation of 'Here Comes the Sun' (pictured below - high quality prints available via!), and through lots of trial and error, I perfected the art of painting perfectly straight lines on a canvas, using nothing more than regular masking tape and paint.
The technique applies equally well to painting perfectly straight lines on a wall or any other surface too.

No smudging, bleed or leakage, just nice straight lines.

First of all you will need just three things:

- Paint, the colour you want the line to be.
- Paint, the colour the line is being painted on to.
- Masking tape.

There's no need to buy special tape or sealants. They're unnecessary and in the end, no quicker than the following technique.

The only thing to be aware of is some masking tapes are better than others. Some have a habit of not peeling off very well, leaving bits behind, so it's worth using a test piece first before applying any paint - Mask off an area, leave the tape for an hour or two, then remove it. If it peels easily without any residue or ripping, excellent! If not, you might want to try a different make. Don't say I didn't warn you.

So with those warnings in place, you're ready to begin.

1.) Apply your tape, masking off the area that you don't want to be painted with the new colour. Be sure to smooth it down as best you can.

2.) The cunning bit - paint along the edge of the tape, but with the underlying colour - ie the colour that is already there. 
This will bleed under the tape, but since it's the same colour as what is already underneath the tape, it doesn't matter! It's what you want to happen because it will seal off any gaps in the tape.

3.) Wait for that to dry. You will then have a perfectly sealed piece of masking tape, ready for a coat of the paint the colour you want your line to be.

4.) Apply the new colour and wait for it to dry.

5.) Once you've applied as many coats as you want and need and it has dried, remove the tape to reveal a perfectly straight line!

And if that wasn't easy enough to follow, I've created an illustrated "How to Paint Perfectly Straight Lines" guide version below -

I hope this is of use to some people. Please share and leave a comment below if it was. Good luck.

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