• Abutting versus Overlapping Stencils: the Zebra or the Ladybug?

    Abutting versus Overlapping Stencils: the Zebra or the Ladybug?

    When you create an abutting stencil, every part of the surface is painted once and only once. In an overlapping stencil, you can paint over previous colors. The same image can be stencilized in an abutting or an overlapping way. But some images work better one way than the other. Here’s an example of stencilizing […]

  • Why You Leave Out One Layer When Painting a Multi-Layer Stencil

    Why You Leave Out One Layer When Painting a Multi-Layer Stencil

    When you make a multi-layer stencil, you typically want to get more colors or more tones than you get in a single-layer stencil. But if you use all the stencils and cover all of a rectangular surface area with paint, you end up with something that looks more like a painted postcard than a work […]

  • Using Stencils In Your Original Art

    Using Stencils In Your Original Art

    A stencil from an ordinary image can be pure joy to paint. Reproducing the image on a surface is very satisfying. But is that all you can do with a stencil? Not at all. Artists of all kinds use stencils as a starting point and go far beyond the expression of the original stencil. The […]

  • Interpretative Portraits with Stencils

    Interpretative Portraits with Stencils

    Professional photographers capture the most important and interesting features of a subject. They use framing and lighting and perspective and lens selection to do all that. Some of those creative aspects of a good photograph also come out in a stencil. In particular, when shadows fall just right, those shadows are gold in the stencil […]

  • Customizing Your Stencil

    Customizing Your Stencil

    Is your stencil working for you, or is it just frustrating you? We ship non-overlapping stencils by default, but I’m here to tell you that if you want an overlapping stencil (where the surface is painted twice or more, on subsequent passes) it’s often just a few cuts away. We’ll look at a specific example […]

  • How To Work With the Surface Color

    How To Work With the Surface Color

    You may remember that we often want to leave out one of the layers of a stencil in order to let the surface show through and to keep our stencil work from looking like a giant post card. In this post we ask the question, ‘How do you work with the surface you have?’ We’ll […]

  • Stenciling Three Layers is Better Than Five Layers

    Stenciling Three Layers is Better Than Five Layers

    I love three-tone (light, mid-tone, dark) stencil portraits. They capture light and shadow really well, if the original photograph is good. Most people seem to opt for more layers because the preview looks better. But it’s advisable to tune your upload until the three-layer stencil captures the detail you want, and go with that. This […]

  • How to Stencil a QR Code

    How to Stencil a QR Code

    There are all kinds of reasons you might want to stencil a QR code on a surface: Click here to turn a URL or vCard or a poem into a QR code. (Or, if you want you can try Canva’s QR code generator.) QR codes don’t have to be painted in permanent paint. Black and […]

  • Stencil Tessellations Cover a Surface

    Stencil Tessellations Cover a Surface

    A tessellation is just an arrangement of shapes that cover an entire surface in a repeating pattern without any gaps. The most common example of a tessellation is just repeating squares. You’ve also seen hexagons used to tile a surface, too, I’ll bet. But you don’t have to stop with simple polygons like squares and […]

  • What Are Registration Marks, And How Do You Use Them With Stencils?

    What Are Registration Marks, And How Do You Use Them With Stencils?

    When we talk about registration, we’re not talking about signing up for class. We’re talking about making sure that one stencil layer lines up on top of another stencil layer so that you don’t get muddy stencils. When do I need to use registration marks? There are many stencils that you don’t need to register […]