A complete guide
For few years I’ve created paintings and painted on walls using stencils, here’s my guide to make your one Stencil like a real Street Artist!
As Wikipedia says:
“Stencilling produces an image or pattern by applying pigment to a surface over an intermediate object with designed gaps in it which create the pattern or image by only allowing the pigment to reach some parts of the surface.”
Most of you already know Banksy, probably the most famous English artist at the moment that use this technique. Before him, Blek le Rat, a French painter that since the 1980s used to cut paper shapes and impress the image in the wall with spry cans.
In the documentary “Exit through the Gift Shop” is well explained how the Street art is changed and blazed new trails, with the advent of Social Networks and more sharing photography. Before of it, the Stencil Art was just fleeting thoughts, most of all politically motivated.
The style is still the same, simple, with less colors well contrasted, that point to have a fast visual impression, conceived to be seen easily from a distance, with a clear instant message.
A stencil piece on a wall, on a canvas, wherever, more colors has, more masks layers needs to be made. Stencils are nothing more than spots of colors on each other.
You can rockin all as you want, it depends all about the time that you have to create it and, above all, to do it. However, if you’re a beginner, I suggest you to start from a monochromatic stuff, with only one layer mask like this.
Many artists print a photo with a higher contrast as possible, others draw directly on the paper/cardboard, and still others make they’r image with computer design softwares and then print it.
The goal is to get an image with few different colors and no shades.
My advise is to create vectorial images, you can use Adobe Illustrator, or paint, maybe with a marker directly on the cardboard. But remember, one layer mask every color that you add to your composition.
Once you’ve created the image, where are highlighted the parts shall then been carved, you’ll just have to print it on. If you drawn it, forget this step.
There are many holders on which you can print/design your image.
You can choose a cardboard, not thicker than 3 millimetres (0,11 inch), or an acetate sheet. This last is extremely durable because is plastic, it does not tear easily and is humidity resistant (deadly for a pece of paper stored in a garage).
I’ve found the acetate sheet harder to cut compared to a semi-rigid cardboard; the plastic seems more easy to cut if you have straight lines, while with curved and tortured lines, the scalpel tend to get stuck. I prefer a matte cardboard of about 1 millimeter.
The print is good practice to do in a typography, taking advantage of all services that a printer has to offer, like the right kind of paper, the correction about possible errors into the file, advices or the large printing format.
Cutting the shapes.
You can go with a cutter, but I strongly advise against that because is a high precision work, so I recommend a bistoury, you can find it on Amazon or in an Art Shop. The important thing is that the blade has to be sharp, so be very careful!
With the bistoury, the cutter or the ax that you chose for incise the base, you just have to follow the lines or the image borders, taking care not to slide with the blade.
In the case that you have a very complex clipping paths, you might want to shore up the sheet, making a row of little points that, in sequence, can remove all the shape.
This is the step that delete all the people that aren’t seriously intentioned to make stencils, people who lost patience and realize just now that is so difficult to have a precise cut for all of this crazy shapes. They can no longer says “I can do it too”.
Once completed the cut out, you’ll just attach the mask to the wall or the canvas and spry over it with a can. The distance will depend by the pressure of the spry can that you bought.
Help yourself with your free hand pressing the mask on the support to be sure that the spry paint doesn’t fighting under the mask track.
Talking about Spry Paint, I started with the classic cans that you can find in a hardware store, but seriously, is not a good and cheap idea. After a few rehearsals, I found the Montana colors cans, that are amazing.
One last thing, don’t forget to buy and USE a gas mask.
So, let me know if you found this article interesting, inspirational or just useless.
Since I am Italian, I’m still improving my english, please, correct me if you find any error and sorry about that.