How to Print & Cut Stencils From a Computer

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Creating stencils is a simple, easy project that can begin on a home computer. Stencils are made as a sheet of material---paper, cardboard, metal, plastic---that is then perforated with an image or pattern. Paint then passes through the opened image and is applied to the surface below the stencil. The stencil is removed to reveal the transferred pattern. Stencils should be simple shapes. Details can be added to the shapes after the stenciling process by applying paint using small paint brushes or sponges.

Things You'll Need

  • Black and white image or pattern
  • Computer graphics program
  • X-ACTO knife and pointed blades, or similar product
  • Stiff flat cardboard or self-healing cutting mat
  • Sheets of 8 1/2 x 11 card stock
  • Masking tape
  • Scrap mat board
  • Paint
  • Scan an image into the computer. Or you can locate an image through a clip art website or a coloring book. Another option is to create one on the computer. For best result, choose images without a lot of detail. Black and white images, especially black and white line art, work best when creating stencils.

  • Using a computer graphics program like Corel or Photoshop, reduce or enlarge the image to the exact size needed for the stencil. Center the image on the page, leaving a border of at least an inch all around the edges of the image.

  • Examine the image. When in use, the stencil will be placed on a surface and paint will be put on the open areas. Identify the areas that will need to be open on the stencil and make sure all shapes to be stenciled are outlined clearly.

  • Print the image on 8 1/2- x 11-inch card stock.

  • Place the image on a piece of stiff cardboard or a self-healing cutting mat (found at art supply stores). Using a sharp X-ACTO blade and knife, carefully hand-cut the stencil. It's recommended that you cut inside the lines of the shapes to become a stencil.

  • Create a test of the freshly cut stencil by taping it to a piece of mat board and stenciling the image using the same paint to be used for the final stencil.

Tips & Warnings

  • Choose a colored card stock for easier identification of the stencil.

References

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