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Cars Are Painted Freehand by Professional Pinstripers


  • Bill Ahrens (@Str8lines on TikTok) is a pinstriper who freehands intricate designs on cars.
  • He breaks down how he paints different sizes and designs on a Ford Mustang and Bronco. 
  • He describes what happens when he makes a mistake freehanding pinstripes.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Bill Ahrens: My name is Bill Ahrens located in Port Orange, Florida, and the name of our company Straight Lines, LLC.

Narrator: Bill is known as Billy the Brush on TikTok. His page, Str8lines, has over 640,000 followers who tune in to his visually pleasing freehand pinstriping. Pinstripes are a pattern of thin colored lines that run parallel to each other on a car. Bill paints anywhere from 150 to 200 cars per week. Most projects involve painting two lines on a vehicle to add color variety. For each design he uses a variety of brush sizes that allow him to execute the perfect pinstripe. 

Bill: So for our real fine lines, I use a double zero brush and it’s made by Mack brush company. It’s made just for us and I could get really you know 16th inch of alone with that brush and I can probably get just shy of a quarter inch with it but you can go all the way up to like a number one brush where you can get a little bit wider than a quarter inch line with that one. But there’s probably 60 different brushes as far as what to do. I mean if we’re doing lettering or if we’re doing a picture or we’re doing cartoons they’re all different as far as what we’re using.

Most cars, I’ll run like a magnet or a piece of tape down the side just to give me a reference point. But the customer on that specific car, he wanted me to do it completely freehand, no magnet, no tape, no anything. The fortunate side of that is that that car has a really or that truck has a really nice body long funnel following.

With the newer body styles on these vehicles, there’s not like one line to follow, there might be 26, you know, different grooves and lines. And so I use that to pull down inside of a car to pick a body line or sort of make my own. And then I just use that as a reference point to work off of. So you know, it helps, obviously, with accuracy, and it allows me to do a better job.

Narrator: As seen in most of his videos, Bill paints pinstripes on the side of a vehicle. In some cases, customers want the same style of pinstripe around the entire vehicle, including the hardest area to pinstripe, which is the hood of a car. 

Bill: Number one, a lot of times, you know, I’ve seen it before where I had to almost build like a straddle where I could straddle the hood and sort of put a board underneath me where I could sit above it. But getting to it’s a challenge. 

So what I try to do first is I’ll draw the top line which is about an eighth inch line, and then using a double zero brush and then I’ll switch to a number one brush, and I’ll draw the quarter inch line underneath the bottom. And then what we’ll do is let that dry for a second and then in the middle of that quarter inch line I’ll draw another eighth inch line or even sometimes a 16th inch line back on that double zero brush. 

Narrator: Part of what makes Bill so popular on TikTok are his behind-the-scenes videos of how he fixes his mistakes. 

Bill: As far as perfecting I don’t think you ever perfect it, it’s just one of those things that still happens every day, I mean, I’ve had no problem drawing a line like that for 15 or 18 years now. And it definitely takes a lot of work. But most paint stripers, as you know, they do one panel at a time. And we’ve developed a way where we can do it and still get, you know, full consistency out of it.

Sometimes, like that particular one if I’m not mistaken, I believe a piece of dirt or something got in my brush. And as I was turning, it sort of feathered out a little bit on me. In that case, I’ll just take it off and start over. You know, you have limited time, but you got several hours to really work with it. So if you need to take it off, you can get it off with acetone and other chemicals like that, and then just start over. 

Narrator: Bill typically charges $100 for two straight lines on a car. For triple-stripe work, it’s more expensive. An entire hood, painted and designed, and longer projects that involve character painting cost around $3,000. 

Bill: I’ll tell you what the neat part about it is, you know, it’s always nice when you can make somebody smile. I mean, I know everybody says that. But you know, you know, usually it’s a kid or you know, when a kid sees something for his first time, that’s where most people, but what I find, the best part about it is it could be somebody in their 70s or 80s that’s never really seen it done by hand, you know. They’d heard about it or maybe they haven’t seen it in 40 or 50 years or 20 years. So when you get they, you know, you get like a little crowd around you when you’re working around cars.



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