5 Steps to Improving Your Fine Lines and Lettering
One of the most important painting skills is also an often cited challenge for many. Great lines and lettering technique can come in handy on almost every painting project you complete, and it will take just a bit of practice. With some preparation and patience, you'll be able to greatly improve your results. Follow these five simple steps for a better line :
1. Gather the right tools.
It already takes a little bit of skill to accomplish nice lines--so do yourself a favor and collect the proper materials in advance. The size and shape of the brush depends on the line you're working on, (we'll dive into that in a little bit!) so plan to have a nice variety on hand. You'll also want your favorite glaze color, a spare piece of paper, and a small dish of water.
Tip for choosing your glaze color : choose a color that is dark enough for your background, but that will clean up easily. If you're painting on a colored background, make sure that your line color is at least 2-3 shades darker to ensure a nice contrast. If you're painting directly on raw bisque, avoid extremely dark colors like black or deep brown. These will be difficult to clean up, should you make a small mistake.
2. Know your brush.
A quality brush can do a lot of the work for you. And if you can narrow down which size and shape brush you need for your project, you'll be well on your way to expert lines. Follow these quick descriptions to find the right brush for you.
10/0, 5/0, 3/0, 2/0, 0 Round Detail Brushes
These are perfect for painting small areas with ease. They're also some of the easiest brushes to control, which make them a great fit for beginners. For added control, hold your brush further down the handle, close to the bristles. The point at the end of these round brushes allow them to hold a nice amount of glaze, while also allowing fine detail work. For especially small areas, only load the very tip of the brush with glaze. If you're painting small lettering, these will be a great option. The smallest Round Detail brush is size 10/0, and increases in size as it goes up.
10/4, 4/0, and No. 5 Liner Brushes
You can distinguish these brushes by their long, thin bristles. These brushes, while thin, can hold a large amount of glaze. They're very handy for delicate lettering, highlighting, outlining, and long continuous strokes. Remember, the amount of glaze you load onto the brush will determine how thick your line is. The 10/0 is the thinnest of the liner brushes, and works well for especially thin,long lines.
10/4, 4/0, and No. 5 Script Brushes
Very similar to liner brushes, except they are slightly thicker, and have longer bristles. These brushes are especially helpful if you want to paint a thicker, continuous line. Since Script Brushes are especially long and narrow, you may choose these to do your first round of lettering. Then, you can fill in or smooth any lines with a thinner, Liner Brush.
3. Test your pressure.
While the brush you choose has a lot to do with how your line appears, varying the pressure while painting will also affect the thickness of your line. We always recommend that you test your pressure on a piece of paper before you place your brush on your bisque. If you notice that your line is thicker than you'd like, try letting up on the pressure a bit and loading with a little less glaze.
4. Get started!
Now that you've tested your pressure, it's time to get started. We like to gently dip the brush in a small dish of water once we've loaded it with paint. This allows for added fluidity in your strokes.
As you paint, try to relax. If you notice that you're having a hard time achieving your desired line, it may be time to switch to a thinner brush. If you notice that you made a mistake, don't panic. Simply complete the line, and then return and fix as necessary. You can always use a finer brush to smooth and repair lines with a little added glaze. If you'd like to remove the line altogether, the tapered edge of a paintbrush can be very helpful for gently scraping off excess glaze. On raw bisque, we prefer to use a slightly damp cotton swab or a toothpick to remove the paint. Remember, there's no mistake that's too big to fix.
Have fun! You'll be brush master in no time.