You’ve seen high-impact rooms with repeating patterns stenciled on the wall or floor. We generated some repeating interior wall stencils together some time ago.
But what about making your own custom pattern? I made a dozen custom patterns in an hour or so with MidJourney version 5. (Remember, we used the AI to generate stencil-ready renderings of Frida Kahlo before.) It’s all about the –tile operator (which is available in every version except for version 4). The –tile option is a huge time-saver because otherwise you have to learn how to use custom software and know how to make the edges all line up. But –tile takes all the trouble out of your hands.
I started first by playing with lace and knots, because I thought that would be an interesting challenge to make it match up and repeat faithfully on all sides.
Worked like a charm!
You’ll see lots of examples of how to use –tile in prompts for each image below. But also keep in mind the general prompt helpers that make good stencils.
Generic prompt helpers for stencils
In addition to playing with –tile, recall some of these generic prompt helpers for stencils:
- we don’t want too many details in the stencil, so leave out anything you don’t need for the theme
- ‘negative space’
- good stencils often have meaningful negative space: the features of a face are defined by the shadows that fall on the face rather than the lightest part of he face for example
- ‘block print’
- the way a good stencil looks when it’s rendered is similar to a block print
- ‘black and white’
- ‘three-tone’ (or four-tone or five-tone)
- ‘three-color’ often works too
- <names of the colors you want>
- don’t be afraid to very specific color names, but separate them with commas, like for example ‘mint green, reddish brown’
- ‘vector art’
- tells the AI that you’re not looking for gradients–just hard edges
Most of these prompt helpers are just trying to simplify the output enough so that it makes a good stencil. So if you start thinking about printing fabrics, you can throw these out the window. Just remember, the simpler the pattern is, the easier it will be to paint it so that it’s clean and recognizable.
For each of the examples below, I show the single tile, and then multiple tiles together, along with the MidJourney prompt that generated the tile.
Knots and bows
After doing a few of these, I started to think about the time required to register and paint a large number of these. I don’t think I would ever attempt a four-layer repeating stencil pattern. Having to paint a hundred or so of these–three or four times *each*–would be too much for me. But you can include as many layers as you like. For me, though, I think a two-color pattern is great unless you have a reason to go to three colors. Remember, you can always vary the colors in a two-tone stencil by applying different colors on alternative blocks, or on different parts of the same block.
Here is one that seems like it would be fun to paint, simply because of the amount of detail present in the stencil. It’s a lot of visual pay-off for a small amount of work.
Get the Antique Lace pattern stencil (free SVG download)
Here’s a fun thing to try for yourself. You may have seen some Celtic Knots–they’re often used in tattoos. It’s great fun to include ‘celtic knot’ in your prompt for a repeating pattern. I got lots of really great results with this, here’s an example.
Grab the SVGs for the Celtic Knot.
Abstract and Art Patterns
From knots, I moved on to other abstract shapes. My brother Johnny is a big fan of Mondrian, so this one’s for him.
Remember that you cut and use the stencil pattern however you like. Just because it’s shown in black and white doesn’t mean you have to paint it that way. For this stencil, I would start with a black wall, and then paint the white blocks on it with spray paint, Some of those white blocks, I would paint over in colors (as Mondrian might have done). It’s up to you.
You can download SVGs for this Mondrian pattern for free.
A not-so-abstract pattern that I wanted to add to the collection was a brick wall. I didn’t want to build the pattern in Illustrator, and I didn’t want the pattern to be regular. So I asked MidJourney to generate a more random-looking brick pattern. And I used the –tile option to make sure that it repeats.
[funny, that when i originally tried this prompt, it kept putting a chair on the wall; so i took the chair out with ‘–no chair’
Get the free SVG Brick Wall stencil.
Incidentally, a great way to check that your repeating pattern really does repeat is to try it out in this simple but nicely implemented Seamless Texture Checker. I’m using it to generate the images for this blog post.
I like Art Nouveau and those swirly elements make great repeating patterns (if you can make them repeat). A little later we’ll see what MidJourney can do with that.
Got a special person in your life, and you really want to fill up the world with them? You can use a face or a cartoon or a caricature to make a fabulous wall.
Download the Psychedelic Women Laughing SVGs (free).
From there I moved on to flowers, because flowers are vine-y and colorful and love to cover the blank walls.
Get the Roses stencil as a free SVG download.
You can never have too many flowers, so I tried out a variety of different sunflowers. The initial image was in a very nice color scheme, but the Stencilizer kind of butchered the colors. It doesn’t matter because you’re going to choose the paint anyhow.
Get the Sunflowers from Bay Stencil (but don’t worry about the funky colors: you’ll use the right color paint I’m sure)
I tried to reduce the detail in this one (so that it would stencilize properly) by using –ar 300:300. I’m not sure whether it had any effect.
Awesome tip for craft cutters with long mats
That reminds me: here is a great tip for you craft cutter (Cricut) folks who cut on 12″ x 24″ mats: just tell MidJourney that you want your repeating image to be 1:2 (or 12:24)
vector art. Let’s try that out on a tiki themed repeating pattern.
You see how it’s longer than it is wide. This will cut your stencil painting time *in half* because you cover twice as much space with one painting. Especially if you’re using spray paint, this is a real time saver. It will also come out looking a lot better, and there may be more variety in the pattern because it can contain differences from the top to the bottom (and typically does, if you tell MidJourney to make it).
You can get a similar tiki doll stencil SVG file. (I just liked the way the square ones came out better.)
Second super awesome tip
At Bay Stencil we use a laser cutter and can cut very fine details out of the 7 mil mylar we use. But sometimes even we shy away from dealing with *very* fine details in stencils. In spite of our use of prompts like ‘simplicity’ and ‘clean lines’ and ‘vector art’, sometimes the subject matter of our prompt is at odds with ‘simplicity’ (like, for example, ‘mummy eating a sandwich while sitting on top of a speeding train’). So it would be great if we could just tell MidJourney to tone it down a notch. Turns out, in some versions of MidJourney, you can tell the AI how *big* you want the picture to be. And that, it turns out, is exactly what we want to make a good stencil. It gives us less detail.
Two examples, with prompts for both.
It’s probably just the difference between version 5 and version 3 that’s at work here, but you can see that the version 3 image has a lot less going on. One way you can ‘fake’ Version 5 into giving you fewer details is to use the –quality setting as well. You can set this between 0.25 and 5.0. 0.25 will typically leave you at a much lower level of detail than if you let it go to the default 1.0.
It seems that in MidJourney 3 the tiling feature may have been less active. But the simpler example on the right tiles really nicely top-to-bottom.
Advice: keep at it
I didn’t make any of these patterns on the first try. Sometimes I checked Google for terms that I might try (through looking at related images in image search), and after four or five tries I usually ended up with a pattern I liked. (You may be harder to please than I am!) But I only had to give up on one concept, and that was ‘koi fish swimming below lily pads in the style of Jeremy Novi’. I didn’t feel too bad though because I already executed that concept on the street in San Francisco. I can live with the fact that MidJourney can’t reproduce it exactly (yet).
I made a few more patterns and put them up on Bay Stencil. Check out our growing pattern library, but also know that the best way to get a unique wall is to generate your own. (And then generate the bridged SVG files at Bay Stencil–wink wink.)
Meanwhile, have fun with the –tile option of MidJourney and make your own wall and floor stencil patterns!