How To Create A Stencil
Learn How To Make Your Own Stencil From Any Picture
If you want to learn how to create a stencil from a picture - whether it's yours or you fancy something you found online, this page will give you all the information you need, with step by step tutorial in Photoshop, with tips, ideas and resources to follow if you need something more.
Stenciling walls, furniture, pillows and using them in crafts is big. It is in fact quite an old craft, much older than using wall decals and stickers, and the last few years have seen quite an increase in people getting back to it. There is just something to applying paint of any color that you want to your walls using some interesting, elegant and possibly unique stencils.
There are tons of stencils out there that you can buy, but if you really want something specific that grabbed your eyes, and the design is not available online, well, you can easily make your own using a simple picture, an image editor (Photoshop, Gimp, or the simple MS Paint that comes standard on every pc) and a few strokes of a pen - make that a mouse instead.
Once you have the design on the pc, you can simply print it out and apply it to a piece of plastic and then cut it out. But more on that later. I hope you will enjoy the information found below and you will create some great unique and personalized stencils.
What You Need To Create A Stencil
Tools That You Can Use To Make Your Own Stencil
All these materials (with the exception of Photoshop - but you can use any other photo editing software that you have instead) are quite cheap and readily available. Here is what I use when I create a stencil for my craft projects.
- A photo editing software - Photoshop is recommended, but you can use many other things, such as Microsoft Word, Gimp or even the basic MS Paint
- A printer, so you can print out your stenciled design
- A blank stencil paper (like the one shown at the to of this page), but if you don't have one, you can also use tracing paper or the very basic regular sheet of paper.
- Sharpie marker to trace the stencil pattern onto the stencil sheet from the printed out design
- Thick piece of cardboard for putting the template on it
- Stencil knife or stencil burner for cutting out the pattern. Here precision is very important.
- Some tape to apply the stencil on the wall or other smooth surface to paint it over - and of course you will also need paint :)
Some Of The Tools You Might Not Have Are Available At Amazon
A great stencil cutting tool that comes with all the extras that are needed - a stand, two tool tips and an edge remover disk.
It's a heat pen which works great to cut your stencils to shape.
Blank stencil sheets are great to apply your chosen pattern or design on them. I find they are much better than other paper types I might use, including vellum paper.
If you prefer using tracing paper instead of the blank stencil sheets, that's a perfectly great alternative which give you equally good results.
Here is one set of papers which includes 500 sheets in the package.
When you make your stencil you do need to use it somewhere - on the wall or other surface, or for your craft. For that you need a few tools and supplies like paints, roller or paint brush and some additional accessories.
This stencil starter kit has all that you need to start stenciling right after you have created your own template.
Create The Stencil On The Computer
How I Create A Stencil On My Computer
I do have Adobe Photoshop, so I like using it, but if you have other software, you can use them just the same. Below this tutorial I will give you a few links to tutorials that use various other software for the computer, so you can follow along if your software settings are different from mine.
For starters I will use this public domain image (totally free to use) from WP Clipart and copy it to Photoshop.
Change The Image To Black And White
Once you pasted the colored image to Photoshop (or Gimp), click on Threshold - you can find it under Image/Adjustments/Threshold.
When you click on Threshold, a new popup comes up with the Threshold screen as shown in the image above. Now you will see the image behind the Threshold box become black and white, you can turn the slider a bit to the left or right until you find the perfect spot - with all the details clearly shown, without too much black on it. Then click OK when you are happy with the image to finalize the look.
Note: if you don't see the image turn black when you're in the Threshold menu, make sure the 'Preview' has a tick mark next to it, like in my example above.
Save Your Stencil Image To Your Pc
Now that you have the image just the way you like it - black and white without lots of heavy dark areas - you really want more of a silhouette than anything else - it's time to save the image to your computer - alternatively you can print it out directly, but by saving it first you will have this template ready to print and use over and over again without having to re-create it again from scratch.
Tutorials On Creating A Stencil Using Other Software
At this point I want to break the step by step instructions with a short pause. Not everyone has Adobe Photoshop, and if you don't have it, you might be wondering how to do it with other photo editing software. So here are a few handpicked tutorials that show you the various steps of getting a picture to the software and making the black and white silhouette using various editing programs.
- Create A Stencil With Microsoft Word
If you have MS Word, here are step by step instructions, including relevant images, on how to create a stencil with this program.
- One More MS Word Stencil Making Tutorial
Here is another visual tutorial for making a stencil in Word.
- Create Your Stencil With Microsoft Word 2008 For MAC
If you're with a MAC computer, don't despair - this tutorial shows you how to go about creating a stencil using the MAC version of MS Word.
- Making A Stencil In GIMP
While I do find Photoshop and GIMP quite similar with almost the same menus for the basics, here is a tutorial that might be helpful if you want to follow one especially designed for GIMP.
- How To Make Stencils in Irfanview and MSPaint
If you rather prefer to work with Irfanview (I love this free software) or the basic MS Paint, this tutorial will quickly guide you through the settings you need in the chosen software to get the stencil from a picture.
Video Tutorial On Creating A Stencil Using MS Paint
Make Your Stencil With GIMP
Make The Stencil After Printing It Out
Create The Final Stencil Design
- Once you've saved the image, it's time to print it on paper. For this step regular paper is perfectly ok.
- From here on there are different schools of thought on how to actually get the image as a stencil. The way I do it is to cut out the image at least approximately from the A4 paper to a close enough size. Then I glue it to a hard cardboard and use my exacto knife or stencil knife to cut out the design as accurately as possible (btw you can tape it instead of glueing as well).
The step of cutting out the stencil might take you a while, so be patient.
- To start stenciling, simply tape the stencil to the wall or the item you want painted, choose your favorite paint color and get busy :)
Online Tutorials Showing You Different Ways To Finalize Your Stencil On Paper
Once you get the stencil on paper, there are various ways to actually create your stencil that will be used to paint the surface. Above I told you about my own way to do it, however you might prefer another method, so I have handpicked a few great online tutorials with images as well that will give you a few other perspectives.
- Making Your Own Stencil On Cardboard
Here is a fun way to make a stencil on cardboard. The image worked with is a cute horse. Great idea.
- Create A Stencil With Clear Folders
A very interesting idea on creating a stencil for walls using taped together clear folders. Perfect for those larger wall stencils with Moroccan designs.
- How to make your own reusable custom stencils
No pictures here, but if you like to read a tutorial for step by step instructions, this might be useful to you.
- How to Make Stencils of your Own
Now this is an interesting tutorial if you want to see how to use a wood burning tool. Sadly I don't have such a tool, so for me it's just eye candy - but it might be perfect for you!
- Make Your Own Reusable Stencil
This tutorial is a bit more intricate than what I like to use, but you might enjoy it - it's definitely different from the usual.
Way Too Cool Video On Making A Stencil From Scratch
Oh I love this video! It does start with the guy showcasing his talent at creating a sketch, but from around minute 1.20 or so it's what you really want to see - it's really cool and worth checking it out.
How To Make A Stencil Without Using The Computer
A great way to make a stencil from a design you see on a carpet or any place else. You are not using a pc when making this stencil. Great video.
Books About Stenciling And Making Your Own That I Recommend
A great book that teaches you the art of stenciling and also stamping and other workings with paper.
Create stencils with everyday objects - now this is a fun way to do crafts.
Yes, this book does have stencils and it doesn't actually teach you how to make your own. But it's really fun to use the given stencils that are reusable, and it does teach you how to use a stencil once you've created it. I love this book.
Another book that teaches you more how to use rather than how to make a stencil, Stencil 101 Decor is great if you want to paint your walls, your floors or your furniture and pillows. Another recommended book.
Creative Paper Cutting: Basic Techniques and Fresh Designs for Stencils, Mobiles, Cards, and More
If you like to cut paper, then this book is for you for when making a stencil, but not only. It has some great and easy instructions that will make you a professional paper cutter in no time. Also perfect if you want to get into origami.
But what does it have to do with stenciling really? Well, think about it - when you print out your design, you need to cut it, no two ways about it. And the better you are at precise cutting, the better your stencil - as intricate as you want it to be - will become.
Free Printable Stencils To Use In Your Projects
Free Printable Alphabet Stencils
Here you will find free printable alphabet stencils to download right to your computer. There are many ways that you can use these stencils to stretch your c...
Are you looking for a nice shamrock stencil to download? These stencils help create a festive St. Patrick's Day decoration for the home and are perfect for a...
Free Printable Number Stencils
There are many free printable number stencils you can choose from that are completely free, without having to buy them. Paying money for something that is fr...
Looking To Buy Ready-Made Stencils?
Here are some stencils that I have grouped in various categories. Click on each link to get all the available stencils to buy from that section.
Stencils For Furniture
When you're using stencils for furniture, you are transforming your old, boring and possibly bland furniture into a modern and fresh home décor element that ...
Paint Stencils For Walls
Paint stencils for walls are the cheaper alternative to rather expensive wallpaper and wall murals that is easy to apply on any wall in the house. Painting ...
Tree Stencils For Walls
Tree stencils for walls are a great and cheap alternative for redecorating your home walls. The added bonus is - you get to do a bit of DIY craft, and you ca...
Moroccan Wall Stencil
If you're looking for a beautiful Moroccan wall stencil that you can use to paint your walls in a new and eyecatching design, look no further! Here I have c...
Butterfly Stencils For Walls
Decorating the walls of your rooms, especially for the kids room, with butterfly stencils for walls is fun and a great way to add that extra touch to the wal...
Geometric Wall Stencils
Geometric wall stencils are really popular these days. And the good thing is - there are so many different geometric patterns and shapes, from ovals, rounds,...
Wall Border Stencils
Wall border stencils can be used in so many different ways. You can't use it along with other wall stencils to create unique designs and wall decorations, or...
Letter Stencils For Walls
Letter stencils for walls are a great way to add personalized quotes, notes and meaningful decorations to your walls. Also they are the low cost alternative ...
All Over Wall Stencils
All over wall stencils are the best way to go if you want to cover your entire wall with decorations. As opposed to merely using large stencils, which make h...
Flower Stencils For Walls
If you love flowers, or if your kids love flowers, then these flower stencils for walls will be just what you need to create a cheerful wall decoration in an...
25-Piece Brush Set, Stencil Pack
Something else I like using when my stencil is cut and prepared is this stencil pack. It comes with various size stencil brushes, sponges and sponge wedges. Perfect for crafts or for decorating the home.