27th September 2021

Basic Outlining Guide for Glass Painting.

Basic Outlining Guide.

There are obviously many different techniques involved in glass painting and different crafts people will have their own favorites. We are not trying to say that the following are the definitive techniques, just the one which we feel comfortable with!

OutlinerThere are two main types of outliner, those which can be used with the “pipe & peal method” and those which are used directly on to the piece of work. Generally, most outliners can do both types of work but are better at one than the other

Basic Outlining Guide
Basic Outlining Guide.

It comes in either bottles or tubes. If you have thought about using the tubes we suggest you think again! There is absolutely nothing wrong with the outliner in the tube, the problem is the tube itself! Can you imagine trying to get toothpaste out of a tube in one continuous even line….even when you stop pressing the tube, it still continues coming out. It is much easier to use a soft bottle, especially a small oval one which fits into the hand.

Basic Outlining Guide. Outliner.

Using a Bottle.

Ensure that you clean out the nib at the beginning of each session. When not using the bottle stand it up-side-down in a cup so all the outliner flows to the nib end. To vary the thickness of lines use differing pressure and speed. Finally, keep topping the bottle up so you never run low on outliner in the middle of a line.

Basic Outlining Guide
Basic Outlining Guide.

If you have problems using a bottle ( e.g. if its too large) or your outliner comes in tubes then you can make a small piping bag out of grease proof paper. Many people fine this the easiest way to pipe.

Using a Piping Bag.

Never put too much outliner in the bag. When cutting the end off, start with a small cut, test, then cut again if necessary ( you can always cut more off but you can’t stick it back on!).Some people put sticky tape on the end of the bag to stop it from opening up. Keep on rolling the top down to keep the bag taught. Finally, replace the bag as soon as it becomes ropey, transferring unused outliner from old to new.

Basic Outlining Guide. Piping.
Using a piping bag in Glass Painting.
Basic Outlining Guide. Piping Bag.

Start your line by placing the end of the bag or the nozzle onto the glass, acetate or film. As you start squeezing lift the bottle/bag up, so you end up laying the outliner onto the surface from a height of about 1cm.(0.5″). When you want to finish the line go back down to the glass again. In the end this is all down to practice. Please ignore all those glass painting books which tell you that the outlining doesn’t matter, that “rough” outlining gives it that “home made” look!

We have included a practice sheet in the designs section. Please feel free to make use of this. Print it off then place it under a piece of glass or acetate. It may seem like a waste of outliner but it will save both time and outliner in the long run. Start in the middle of the sheet and work outward, turning it as you go. This will stop you from reaching over any areas which you have already piped and smudging it.

Basic Outlining Guide: liquid leading
Basic Outlining Guide.

If you make a mistake on your work DON’T try wiping the outliner off. This will just make it worse. Wait for that bit of outliner to dry (work somewhere else on the piece) and then cut it off with a sharp craft knife. This will give you a clean surface which you can then pipe over. As long as you are willing to put in the practice there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to produce consistently good outlining work.

contour paste

Pipe & Peal Method.


gallery glass
This character was piped & painted on a spare piece of glass and is now being moved to a bottle.

Depending on how you do it this can also be called the “pipe,paint & peal method. To make a lightcatcher you can simply place the design under the glass then pipe on top. If the item you have to paint is a bottle, glass or other 3D curved object it can be difficult to pipe on and or get your design behind. One way to over come this is to use the pipe and peal method. Use a spare piece of glass put your design underneath and then pipe in the usual way. As long as you have used the correct outliner, you will then be able to carefully peal it off and stick it on your work item. If the design (and work piece) is large it is best to do this in smaller sections. If you have the correct type of paint you can take this one stage further by painting your work while it is still on the spare glass and then moving it.

gold outlining
Fig 1. Basic Outlining Guide.



Using Coloured Outliners. Many people are quite happy just using black outliner, this shows well through the paint and rarely shows up any marks. Coloured outliners are very different, they tend to show every tiny drop of paint you get on them (fig 1.). There is a way to get round this but it is rather time consuming. Pipe your piece as normal using either black or coloured outliner, paint your work, then, after the paint has dried, pipe your work a second time (fig 2.)

gold piping
Fig 2. Basic Outlining Guide.

Between practicing your piping and doing all the work you’re going to get through a lot of outliner, especially black. It can be a fairly expensive item to buy, as much as £2.50 for a fairly small bottle or tube. Don’t worry….help is at hand…..why not have a little fun and make your own…..it’ll even save you money! O.K. it’ll take a little experimenting and create a mess but you’ll be able to produce an outliner to your own requirement. Once you hit on a formula which is right for you make up larger batches and store it in air-tight containers.


Plaid Outliner Emulsion Outliner make your own Outliner
Fig 3. Fig 4. Fig 5.

Making Your Own Outliner.

If you don’t want to actually make your own outliner there is nothing wrong with using a water based glass paint as in fig 3. This paint was a little bit runny in its normal state so it was left open to the air for a short while to thicken up. After this it was put in a piping bag and used in the normal way. This is a way of getting lots of different colours to outline with.

The second outliner (figs 4 & 5) was made from a normal white emulsion paint, bought very cheaply from a local DIY shop. Again, a small amount of it was left open to the air for a short while to thicken. Next a colour agent was added, in this case black printer ink but other colouring agents should work just as well. At this stage your outliner should still be too thick. You can add water a drop at a time, continually stirring, until it reaches your desired consistency. If you put too much water in then you will have to leave it a while to thicken again.

home made Outliner
Fig 6. Basic Outlining Guide.

The final outliner (fig 6.) was made with a base of white flexible filler. The sort of stuff which comes in a large tube and is used for sealing around baths and sinks. This time there was no need to leave it open to the air to thicken, as it was already thick enough. A colouring agent was added again and then the same process of adding drops of water to produce the required consistency. The benefit of this second type of homemade outliner is its ability to “pipe & peal”.

Glass Paint Outliner

So there you have the basic outlining guide! We hope that you enjoy it and don’t forget to practice!!!!

Any questions you may have can be asked on the Forum where we ( and other people) will try and answer them.

4 thoughts on “Basic Outlining Guide for Glass Painting.

  1. I LOVE your YouTube tutorials. Finally someone who explained that, going slow is alright! But, also, that outlining ONTO a piece of glass, flat or curved, takes practice,practice, practice! I was so disappointed as all the other videos I saw made it look so easy and I invested not as much money as time in my little candle holders only to see that it requires a lot of patience, LOL! I forgot that I am looking THROUGH glass and my depth perception needs to be pretty sharp. I kept touching the glass with my outliner tip when it seems I am nowhere near the surface of the glass, this is very tricky. I’ve not figured out a way to have special lighting, or angles to help me with it, but your website, tutorials, and videos allowed me to soldier on because you said that it just takes practice, which makes all the sense in the world. So, all of this to say, Thank You!! I love the tips and information you have shared!

    Margaret (Reno, NV, U.S.A.)

    1. Many thanks for you kind comments they are much appreciated. Circumstances have forced me to put a hold on adding new content to the site lately but I hope people will find what is here useful. I hope to get back to it after the summer.

  2. Hi
    I used to use the rainbow product. I like to do wine bottles and peal and paste unto the bottle. What is the black printer ink and where do i get it.
    Ty so much.

    1. The black printer ink is just the ink you would use in a computer printer. Most computer and stationers will sell it. No need for a brand. I just used a little top up bottle I bought (don’t buy a cartridge, it can be really difficult to get the ink out without getting yourself covered.

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