Stenciling images is cool, but often you want to add some text to give context to the thing you’re stenciling.
Alphabet letter stencils and stencil fonts
It used to be, the way to handle this was to take out your big set of letter stencils, like the parking lot painters, and just do one letter at a time: E-M-P-L-O-Y-E-E P-A-R-K-I-N-G. But the letters are only in one size, and one all-caps font that makes you feel like you’re yelling. Blech.
Or you can use a stencil font, and print or cut your own. Stencil fonts are special fonts that have the bridges built in. So the o’s and a’s and e’s look okay because their centers are bridged in. Stencil fonts have the advantage that they are typically bridged in the right place for each letter, so that the letter is as readable as possible. Because legibility is important in their design, stencil fonts often look just a little bit military. Again, maybe for you, blech.
Bridged stencil of your text in any font
But maybe you’re looking for a certain style of text, and you don’t want to be constrained to use a font that looks like it belongs on a crate of assault rifles. Make the text look just like you want it to. Use any font you want. Hand-draw it, even, and take a picture of it. Or draw it on a tablet. You don’t have to worry about the bridges because Bay Stencil is going to bridge it for you. You can choose a more modest bridging option if you don’t want to see so many bridges in the final image.
Step 1: Choose a font for your stencil text, and capture the sample
Go to one of these sites that generates high-def previews of your text in your preferred font:
I like to use fonts that are chunky, that take up more space. In general, I think text stencils look best when they are a little over half in the positive color. Thin fonts can be hard to make out, so if you choose a thin font then I would at the very least go for the boldest version of whatever thin font you’re using. Type in your text for preview, and screen capture the preview as large as you can.
Step 2: Upload to Bay Stencil
Upload your screen capture to baystencil.com, cropping the screen capture as appropriate.
When the email with your nine options comes back, click on the 9th option: it’s the most accurate two-color tracing of the nine. If this is your first upload, it’ll be free, and the variant will be unlocked for you to download as many times as you like. If it’s not your first time, you’ll be prompted to buy the download to unlock the bridged stencils.
Step 3: Order stencil or cut it on your craft or laser cutter
If you have a craft or laser cutter, then that SVG download is exactly what you need. You can upload to Cricut Design Space or your preferred design application.
If you don’t have a craft cutter or laser cutter, you can buy the stencil from Bay Stencil, and we’ll ship it to you in the mail.
Mix up your fonts for emphasis
Choosing different fonts for different parts of the text is fun, and gets more attention (when used within reason). In this example, we use a scripted, interrogative font for ‘If not now’, and then we use a bold, insistent font for ‘WHEN?’.
You can also use the first layer of the stencil separation to get a ‘reverse’ effect. The bridging done by Bay Stencil really comes in handy here.