Outlines (graffiti)

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dark blue outlines, orange-red fillin
red: cut outlines, green: uncutted outlines, the round character of the lines from the spray can can be seen

In graffiti jargon, outlines are understood to mean the immediate border or contour of the individual letters in a graffito (piece). These are usually added to the image in the last work step, after the areas have been filled in. As a rule, when choosing the outline colors, care is taken to use a particularly good covering spray paint. This is particularly problematic with light colors. With the hundreds of colors available on the market, the opacity does not depend on it alone, black lacquer can also have a low opacity. Choosing the right tones for the outlines usually requires a certain amount of experience.

Usually the outlines are made with spray paint. The line thickness is determined by the choice of spray head ( cap ). Usually caps are used here, which allow thin lines with a hard edge (so-called Skinnys or Skinnycaps ). Illegal graffiti is an exception. These are usually produced under time pressure, which is why spray heads are used, which enable thicker lines and at the same time release more paint. In addition to the possibility of making the outlines with spray paint, there is also the possibility of making the outlines or the entire graffiti from coating paint. This is usually used to prime the wall, mostly with legal pictures, before the actual picture is applied with spray paint. In recent times (based on the development of graffiti), more and more pictures are being painted that are completely (fill-in and outlines) made with brushed paint. The outlines are applied to the wall with a paint roller or a larger brush and, compared to the sprayed ones, are significantly thicker and usually also less clean.


In connection with the outlines, cutting is understood as a correction to the edges of the lines. The outline is partially sprayed over with the adjacent color in order to achieve pointed edges. This is necessary because the lines are round at the ends, corresponding to the jet that comes out of the spray can. The technique of cutting can also be used to create particularly thin lines, which cannot be achieved with the usual caps. Alternatively, these sharp-edged or thin lines could also be achieved by masking with adhesive tape. However, because of the large number of lines, this would mean a considerably higher expenditure of time. In addition, this technique is not highly regarded in graffiti circles. Recognition goes to those artists who can draw clean outlines without having to resort to such aids.

Other uses of the term

pink second outlines
double second outline

Second outline (s)

In addition to the outlines, there is the second outline (second for short), which frames the entire image, i.e. the entire lettering. Optionally, this can be drawn significantly thicker than the actual outlines or several seconds around a lettering. The latter is often applied with a light color right around the letters and a following darker shade of the same color. The intention here is to create a glow around the entire picture.

First outline (s)

Detail from a black and white outliner

The lines with which the picture on the wall is initially drawn forward are also referred to as first outlines . This is usually the first step if you refrain from priming the wall.

The term "outlines" does not only refer to the final border of the letters in a mural, but can also be used for the underlying sketch, as these often only consist of lines.

An outliner is an image that consists only of the outlines, the first outlines, so to speak. It does not matter whether the picture is on a wall or on paper. The use of the term “outlines” or “outliner” is more a matter of taste than a firmly defined term.


The term outline also refers to printed matter whose individual letters are only represented by the contour.