Thursday, August 28, 2008



Stencils are great. You can get super fancy and detailed, or you can grab three items and get stencilling within half an hour.

But Hybrid, really, just three items?


1)something to cut with (x-acto knife, box cutter, hell, even scissors)
2)something to cut (file folder, thin cardboard, thin sheet of acetate, thick paper)
3)some kind of paint.

Those are the most basic, most necessary items for a one color stencil.

A bit of a disclaimer: Hybrid Hopes has only made one color stencils. Further disclaimer: generally, you should only stencil on your own property.

Speaking of that, you can stencil on just about anything. If the paint you use is appropriate for the item you're stenciling, it should work.

Another disclaimer: there are tons of stencil tutorials. If you don't like mine, feel free to move it on down the line....

We usually use old folders. We like to reuse and repurpose as much as possible anyway, and old folders word great for this. Just mind the crease in the middle if you're making a larger stencil. I usually unfold it the day before I plan to cut the stencil, laying the inside of the folder down and placing a large book on top.

I should mention that a sheet of acetate or thin plastic won't get soggy with paint, so there is that benefit. Your stencils will last longer. However, if you're just doing short runs anyway, less than a dozen images, you can definitely get by with paper products. Just practice with different materials until you find out what works with you and your current project.

So, old folders. I like x-acto style knives. Scissors work ok for large, unprecise areas. If you need giant circles, for example, scissors might be easier for you. I use mostly the craft (x-acto style) knives. Again, figure out what random cutting tool works for you. The sharper, the better. If your tool is dull, you're gonna end up with ragged edges and a hate for anything crafty. You'll get frustrated, and you're more likely to slip and cut yourself.

I suppose now is a good time to discuss your image. Because I'm a rookie, this is a rookie tutorial. That means you need a rookie image. You can draw your own simple image, or you can find an infinite number on the interweb. stencilry's a great place to start. They also have tutorials on how to make a stencil-ready image if you look here.

Here's a pretty simple image:

Even that image isn't quite ready for stenciling though! See those areas of white in the middle of black? Those are areas you want to keep paint-free. The areas in black are going to be areas that you'll cut out. You have to make bridges in the image to make this happen.

headphone example, crap bridges

See those new white bits? They're bridges to the other white bits. You can see that they can distract from the overall image. There are ways to fix that, first by placing them so they go with the design, and secondly, by carefully painting over those bits once you remove the stencil. On the left, the added bridges are right in the middle of the part that holds the earpiece on. On the left, the bridges interrupt less, however they're going to make the stencil a little less stable because of where they are placed. How to decide where to put the bridges? Practice and experimentation.

I'll follow this up later, but I'll leave you with links in case you can't wait:
tutorial, and lots of tutorials.

I never have used spray adhesive or masking tape. I'm sure it makes things a bit more professional. Maybe we'll do a whole fancy pictorial tutorial for ya next week. God knows there aren't enough stencil tutorials on the internet! At least my crap tutorial will make you feel better about your own skills.

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