How to Make Stencil Art


Stencil art is a simple and entertaining way to create distinctive and stunning pieces of artwork, even if you don't have much artistic inclination. Get creative and decorate just about any surface you wish: wallpaper, paintings, furniture and clothes, among others. Use different colors of paint to design patterns and layering that will make you look like an art pro. The technique is easy to learn and the supplies are accessible and inexpensive; you could even start your project today.

Things You'll Need

  • Stencils
  • Pencil
  • Drawing paper
  • Acrylic, stencil, fabric or spray paint
  • Roller, stencil brush or sponge
  • Fabric, canvas or other surface to paint
  • Decide on a design. You can make your own stencil from cardboard or plastic sheeting or buy stencils made of Mylar or heavy plastic. You can also trace and cut or buy pre-made sticker stencils that stick on and peel off easily.

  • Practice the design on paper first. Hold or tape the paper to the desired surface to ensure it looks good.

  • Prepare the surface. If you are stenciling on clothes, prewash and iron the fabric. Wipe dust and debris from walls or furniture. If painting on paper or canvas, place the surface horizontally to prevent dripping.

  • Hold the stencil firmly on the desired surface and lightly trace the design with a pencil. Check the alignment and positioning of the design and make the appropriate adjustments. If you are repeating designs on a wall, have a friend help hold the stencil in place or use low-tack adhesive spray to stick the stencil to the wall.

  • If you are using spray paint, shake the can and lightly spray from about 1 foot away. Keep the can moving to avoid thick, drippy paint. If you are using a paintbrush, blot excess paint on a piece of paper or paper towel. The Stencil Ease Instruction Guide recommends using a stencil brush to lightly brush from the outside to the center. You can also blot acrylic or stencil paint on the stencil using a paint roller or sponge.

  • Let the paint dry and apply a light second coat if necessary. Carefully remove the stencil by pulling it horizontally away from the wall. Wait for the paint to dry and apply layers of other colors. Repeat the pattern, if applicable.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you use a stencil on canvas, practice the design on several sheets of paper arranged together to form the same size as the canvas.
  • When stenciling fabrics, wait for the paint to dry, then hand wash before wearing.
  • Many paints, especially spray paints, are toxic. Paint in well-ventilated areas and wear a paint mask.

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