So, this is my first ever blog……….take it easy on me. I’m not much of a writer but I know how to get my point across and hopefully teach a thing or two.
Hmmm, why did I decide to create my first blog about creating a stencil? I don’t know, just felt right so let’s get on with it. But seriously, I think they are a great way to produce handmade prints of your paintings rather than prints made by a machine. Don’t get me wrong, giclee prints are cool but I prefer something that is made by my own hands.
Another reason why I make these handmade prints, it’s because I love the process and the outcome I get each time. The results are amazing every single time. Another reason to make this stencil prints is that the authenticity and handmade feel, which cannot be found with Giclee prints, I find. This process of making these prints gets repetitive and tedious at sometimes so be prepared.
Here are the things you may need :
- An adult person if you are under 18.
- Your artwork that you want to make a stencil of. Easy.
- A computer with some sort of photo editing software (Photoshop is probably the best)
- A knife or a scalpel (have both if you’re feeling a bit cheeky)
- A printer or visit a place where you can print.
- Spray paints
- Spray mount (extremely useful and the key ingredient)
- Masking tape
- Something to cover the floor
I have split this whole process into three key stages:
1. Create your stencil in Photoshop
3. Spray painting
Here it goes,
1. Create your stencil in Photoshop
First step is to open up one of your paintings/ drawings into Photoshop that you’d like to create prints of. Now, what’ve learnt from making stencils from my artwork simple or simplified ones work best. Otherwise, you’ll have a lot of trouble cutting out a lot, I mean a lot of finer details. I would choose something a bit simpler that is easier to work with. The example I am showing in this blogpost is a bit complex but remember the tip I just gave you. I like my brand name ‘bobbziee’ in there.
Once you have the image in Photoshop, hold Ctrl and press J (Ctrl+J) to copy the original layer (you want to keep the original layer to use it again and again). Then, go to Image>Adjustments>Threshold, this will bring a new window where you can play a little bit. Because I am creating 3 layer stencil, I need three levels of different details, I’ll show you what I mean. First one is more like an outline for the base color, therefore I moved the lever to right to create this block of shape.
To create the next layer, I use the artwork image (not the threshold image we just made), but this time I basically keep the lever in middle. This will depend on image to image however it was fine for me here, also you can erase the parts you do not like. Here’s a new step that we didn’t apply to last threshold image we made, this time go to Filter>Artistic>Cutout. This will open up a new window where you can simplify your artwork. I find it extremely useful as it makes the cutting part easy to handle. So go ahead and play with the bars until you juuuuuuust get it right. Repeat the last step again, but move the lever to left to get fever details for the top layer.
Next, to visualise how the stencil may look like, I like to fill all the shapes with different colours. To do that, you need to use the wand selection tool to select white area (make sure contiguous is unchecked as this will allow you to select all the white areas at once). Then by using Ctrl+Shift+I, you can select the black and grey areas (layout of your artwork). Now create a new layer, you can either do this by going on Layer>New>Layer or click on the new layer icon under layers panel. Next, by using the paint bucket tool, you can go ahead and fill the shape with any colour you like.
Repeat this for the other two shapes and you should have three different shapes. Good, you’ve made it this far. Complicated process out of the window. You can add registration marks to each corner so that every time you spray paint on top, you can place them exactly where it should be. However if your stencil and the paper you are spraying on is the same then you can leave this step out.
TIP: you can be extra and color in with a brush tool or whatever you like to add to the shape or erase things out if you are not happy with. I do that sometimes to really simplify the shape and erase areas that I know could be difficult to cut. Also make sure that the middle parts are somehow connected to the outer side, this way you’ll have one paper as a whole rather than separate parts for just one stencil.
Now the tedious and frustrating part, if you get past this stage, you are truly a legend.
Time to print out each layout. Once you have those ready you can go ahead and trace them on 200-300gsm paper (thicker is better for multiple sprays but also harder to cut). To trace this image you can either use a graphite paper or go over with a 2B or above pencil on the back and then trace the image. However, the best option I found is to actually mount spray the image and stick it on the paper and start cutting. Maybe outline the shape first with a pen so you know what you are working with as well as connect the inner shapes to the edges.
A little tip for you, this will take a very long time and your finger will need rest in between (trust me on this one), so have a cup of tea in the middle.
Once you have three stencils, you are ready to start making prints.
3. Spray painting
For this stage, go get a respirator (spray painting mask), it’ll do you good. If you made registration marks then you’ll need masking tape under the stencil, otherwise you are going to end up with registration marks on the actual print. No one wants that, so sort that out.
Use spray mount to spray the back of the stencil from about 15 cm distance and stick it on the blank paper that has masking tape stuck on the area where registration marks are going to be. Tap any areas that are unstuck and make sure the floor or wherever you are is cover with newspaper or something. Start spraying the first layer.
Then, line the next stencil on the registration marks and spray paint the second layer and then the third. You can remove the masking tape and you have your print ready to be signed and numbered.
Now before you get too excited, here is another tip for you if you are making more than one print. When you are making these prints, you have to wait for the layers to dry as well as the stencil, so work on multiple prints at the same time rather than working on print at a time. This will actually save you tons of time.
I hope this inspired you and helped you and you understood this complicated process. Believe me, it becomes very easy the more you do it. I also hope you go make your customers happy with these prints and make some money. Check out some of other stencils I have made in the Store under Limited Edition Prints.
Below is a link to an artist on Youtube who inspired me to make these and also a dude who has a lot more complicated way of doing this that you’ll definitely find interesting.