How to Make Graffiti Stencil

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Making a graffiti stencil is a great way to quickly deploy bold, graphic images. Like other graffiti techniques, graffiti stencils are generally used with spray paint. It's relatively easy to get started with graffiti stencils regardless of your level of artistic skill. Besides spraying walls, you can use your stencils to create custom clothing, patches, posters and mixed media art.

How to Make Graffiti Stencil
(Adrián González de la Peña/Demand Media)

Things You'll Need

  • Light cardboard
  • Pencil
  • Craft knife
  • Heavy cardboard or cutting mat
Step 1

Start with a generously sized piece of lightweight cardboard. This project is a great way to reuse old record covers or cereal boxes, for example.

Adrián González de la Peña/Demand Media
Step 2

Draw the general outline of the image you would like to stencil on the blank side of the cardboard. Alternatively, glue a photocopied or printed image you would like to stencil onto the cardboard instead.

Adrián González de la Peña/Demand Media
Step 3

Use pencil lines to break the image up into individual pieces that can be cut out without destroying the image. For example, if you want to stencil the letter "o", you can't just cut around the outer circle, or you'll lose the inner circle. You need to break your "o" (or whatever the shape is) into two or more smaller pieces that can be removed individually, leaving thin strips in between to hold the rest of the image in place.

Adrián González de la Peña/Demand Media
Step 4

Place the cardboard on the heavier cardboard or cutting mat to protect your work surface, then use the craft knife to carefully cut out and remove the pieces you drew and create your graffiti stencil.

Adrián González de la Peña/Demand Media

Tips & Warnings

  • When you use the graffiti stencil, blot it dry on both sides if possible. Otherwise, layers of paint will quickly build up, distorting the shapes and shortening the lifespan of the stencil.
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