How to Make a Stencil Card

Making a stencil card is easy and fun if you have a craft cutter like a Cricut Explore series.

But before we walk you through the steps to create a stencil card, have a look at what the final project could look like.

What you’ll need

You’ll need a craft cutter, like a Cricut Explore, Brother ScanNCut, Silhouette or a laser cutter (like a Glowforge) to cut these intricate stencils into paper. Note: your cutter should support uploading and cutting your own SVG (as those mentioned above).

You’ll need stiff construction paper or card stock, probably in the 250gsm range that’s at least 20 inches wide and 10 inches tall.

Last, you’ll need spray paint. In this example, we did it with just black spray paint, but it depends on your image. For portraits, black and grey paint is enough. It can be nice to have a single accent color (like red or blue or green) around, too.

Choose an image

Abraham Lincoln

Images that make great stencil cards are professional close-up portraits, or any well-lighted portrait that you can crop so that you see good contrast in the face.

Also, easy-to-recognize objects are great stencil subjects. I stay away from

See more about what makes a good stencil subject. The same rules apply, only moreso, because this is a small format stencil and you won’t have a lot of room for abstract stuff. You want just the important details.

Stencilize your image in three tones

image upload to bay stencil

Because of the format, you need to choose a stencilization that is three layers. Typically that means you want three tones, or three shades of grey. Does that mean you can’t use color to paint your stencil? Of course not. We’ll show you examples of turning a greyscale stencil into a magnificently colorful work of art. But as far as separating the layers goes, we’re going to choose a version that has three greys or three colors.

In our case, the original portrait was in black and white, so even the ‘3 colors’ stencilizations are in shades of gray.

What happens if you choose 2 or 4 or 5 layer option? You don’t get an SVG to make a card out of, that’s what! So choose a stencilization with 3 colors / 3 greys.

pick a 3-color or 3-greys stencilization

Get the SVG cut files

If this is your first time at Bay Stencil, you’ll get to download your first SVG stencil for free! If you’ve been back a few times, you’ll notice that you get the chance to support Bay Stencil by paying for your download. Hooray! Either way, you’ll need those SVG files for your craft cutter in the next step.

When the download comes, you’ll find a file called ‘card.svg’ in the zip file. That’s the one you want to upload and cut.

Cut on craft / laser cutter

Upload and cut according to your craft or laser cutter software.

One thing to check is that the cut lines on the outside of the card are really cut lines and that the lines where the card will fold are not cut lines. You can choose to make those fold/emboss if you have the right tool for Cricut, for example, or you can choose to cut a dotted line to support accurate folding. But don’t just cut down the line, because that won’t be a card. 🙂

cutting out a stencil on a cricut

See cutting instructions for any of these methods:

Fold and paint

Now that you’ve cut out the card, you want to fold it carefully so that the card flaps come down exactly in line on the other side.

Send it or keep it for yourself

You can find an oversized envelope (like a 6″ x 9″ envelope) to send your stencil in, or if you enlarged it to cut, you can also find a 9″ x 12″ envelope. Wait for the stencil to dry before you send it.