For people who love crafts and arts, printable stencils are one way to create unique or custom designs without necessarily having to look hard for stencils from the crafts stores. Free printable stencils also give you the flexibility to edit, tweak, modify and even resize the stencil for your purposes. This way, you can use your stencil on a wide variety of materials and mediums.
What you need:
- Utility knife
- X-acto knife
- Clear acetate
- Cutting board
Find your free printable stencils. You can find all sorts of free printable stencils from online sources. Some examples include Fashion Frog fashionfrog.com and Spray Paint Stencils spraypaintstencils.com. Click on an image of the stencil you want to use, and save the image on your computer by right clicking and then clicking “Save image as …”
Edit the stencil image as necessary. If you’re familiar with photo editing software like PhotoShop, you can edit the stencil as needed, such as by resizing, adding other images, cropping, and the like.
Print out the stencil. Most free printable stencils can already be printed out right from the browser window. Click File and then Print, and then print out the image as you would normally print any image.
You have the option of printing out the image directly onto a clear acetate, if the printer supports acetate printing. Usually, laser printers will accept acetate without any modification. Inkjet printers might require specialized acetate paper.
Cut the stencil. Lay the printout on a cutting board and fasten it along the edges with sticky tape. Then, fasten a piece of clear acetate over the printout. If you’ve printed directly onto clear acetate, then just tape the acetate over the cutting board. You might still want to place a piece of paper underneath, though, so you can have some contrast (if your cutting board is dark-colored).
If you don’t have a cutting board, a thick piece of cardboard will do—this is just a safety precaution against accidentally making cuts on tables, floors and other surfaces. Use a sharp box cutter to cut out large portions of the stencil. Make sure your blade is new and sharp. Otherwise, a dull blade might result in jagged edges.
A stencil is usually a positive image, and you would want to cut out those parts that are colored black. If you need to support some details from within the stencil, be sure to leave a thin line from the surrounding area. In most cases, though, the maker of the free stencil has already taken care of where to place the supporting lines.
Cut out details. For thin lines and small details, use an X-acto knife or a similar tool. These have small blades with very minute edges, which let you cut curved lines, circular patterns and even small dots. Smooth out rough edges by cutting these off with the X-acto knife or utility knife.
Printing and cutting free stencils can be fun. Once you have your cut stencils, you can use different mediums in painting your artwork. You can use airbrushes, sponges, and even a regular paintbrush.