Wednesday, July 30, 2008
How to Create a Stencil
Click HERE if you can't see the video above.
Stencil technique in visual art is also referred to as pochoir. Stencils are formed by removing sections from template material in the form of text or an image. This creates what is essentially a physical negative. The template can then be used to create impressions of the stenciled image, by applying pigment on the surface of the template and through the removed sections, leaving a reproduction of the stencil on the underlying surface. Aerosol or painting stencils must remain contiguous after the image is removed, in order for the template to remain functional. Sections of the remaining template which are isolated inside removed parts of the image are called islands. All islands must be connected to other parts of the template with bridges, or additional sections of narrow template material which are not removed.
A related technique (which has found applicability in some surrealist compositions) is aerography, in which spray-painting is done around a three-dimensional object. This technique is comparable to the paintings in caves dating over +10,000BC, where hands were used to create hand print outlines amongst other artwork, such as paintings of animals. The artist would spray pigment around his hand with his mouth. A hollow bone or reed may have also been employed to direct the stream of pigment.
Silk-screen printing also uses a stencil process, as does mimeography. The masters from which mimeographed pages are printed are often called "stencils." Stencils can be made with one or many colour layers using different techniques, with most stencils designed to be applied as solid colours.
During silk-screening and mimeography the images for stenciling are broken down into color layers. Multiple layers of stencils are used on the same surface to produce multi-colored images.
10 Tips for Stenciling
Stenciling Tip 1: Use a Professional Tool
Stencilling brushes are round with short, stiff bristles. Use it in a quick up-and-down movement to dab paint onto your stencil. This helps prevent paint getting under the edges. A sponge or small roller works well too.
Stenciling Tip 2: Work from The Outside
Start panting on the edges of the stencil, working into the centre, rather than from the centre outwards. Again this helps prevent paint getting under the edges as you're less likely to accidentally bump the brush against an edge.
Stenciling Tip 3: Less is More
Don't overload a brush with paint as it'll seep under the edges of the stencil. Load the brush lightly, so that the ends of the bristles are covered evenly; wipe off any excess on a piece of paper or cloth.
Stenciling Tip 4: Think Thin
You'll get better results by applying two thin coats rather than one thick one. Wait for the first to dry before applying the second.
Stenciling Tip 5: Get Sticky
Keep a stencil in place by taping it at the top and bottom with a piece of tape. Low-tack tape is best as it's very easy to remove and shouldn't pull off any paint from the surface.
Stenciling Tip 6: Go Multi-Colored
To use more than one color in a stencil, use tape to mask off areas of the stencil you don't want in a particular color.
Stenciling Tip 7: Practise Makes Perfect
If you're using various stencils together, first try it out on a piece of paper. It's far easier to find out that something isn't working at this stage and then correct it than when you're painting on your final surface.
Stenciling Tip 8: X-rated Stencils
Old x-rays are great for cutting stencils, so if you're unfortunate to need some, don't throw them away.
Stenciling Tip 9: Wash Regularly
Not you, your stencil! If you're doing a repeat design, wash your stencil regularly in warm water to keep the edges free of paint. If there's some paint on an edge, you won't get a crisp edge to your painted stencil. As paper stencils don't lend themselves to washing, acetate stencils are better for repeat designs. With a paper or card stencil, wipe off the excess paint, then leave the stencil for a bit so the paint on it dries, before using it again.
Stenciling Tip 10: Store stencils Flat
A stencil, obviously, needs to be flat to be usable. To stop it from buckling, put it between two pieces of card and store it somewhere flat, such as in a book or telephone directory.
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