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How to make a stencil

  • August 20, 2021
  • 6 min read
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How to make a stencil

How to make a stencil. Today we talk about Stencil Art, a sub-category of Street Art. We refer to the stencil technique and the Street Art accessories necessary to reproduce murals in series. A premise: as soon as we talk about Street Art, someone always turns up their nose. Many criticisms have been resonating for years: it is not art, it is illegal, and so on. As is well known, however, Street Art is not always illegal, and indeed, it is often the same institutions that request artistic works of this type. The attention towards Street Art is constantly growing. Today it appears to be a central art form in the international scenario. In fact, among the 10 highest paid contemporary artists worldwide, 4 have to do with Street Art.

Stencil Art: what is it, and what does it mean?

Making stencils, at first glance, might seem quite simple, and it is no coincidence that this technique is often chosen as an entry-level in the world of Street Art. However, this is not precisely the case, as this discipline hides considerable difficulties, especially when you want to do something more than write simple writing on a wall: it is, therefore, necessary to know the proper techniques and be able to rely on the appropriate accessories for the Street Art. In recent years, Stencil Art has confirmed itself as an art form in its own right. It is, in fact, one of the most widespread techniques of Street Art, and its origins are to be found in the Eighties and, if you want to identify a real pioneer, you should look at Blek le rat, a French artist who managed to give stencil a value hitherto unheard of.

Today, the most famous interpreter of the stencil is certainly Banksy, the famous English artist who, paying homage to the precursor, explained that “every time I paint something, I end up discovering that Blek le rat had already thought about it 20 years ago”. Stencil Art aims to create graffiti by using a stencil, or a stencil mask, through which spray paint is applied to obtain the image on the space behind. Comparing this technique to other forms of street art, we can undoubtedly say that it allows faster execution of the work and, very importantly, allows you to reproduce the same design in series, thus obtaining a high number of copies all the same.

How to make a stencil: a guide for newbies

How to make a stencil

The word ‘stencil’ itself means mold, mask, and sums up the indicated technique highly effective. Making a stencil means bringing back ‘spots’ of color on a wall through a personalized template to obtain the desired print. As anticipated, it sounds easy, but it’s not. The simplest stencil involves drawing simple figures – often writings – which will then be painted with cool drawings, and therefore with a single spray can. On the other hand, the more complex stencils require several different masks, and most of the spray cans are contained in the artist’s belt.

The stencil drawing

But where do you start? To make a mural with the stencil technique, you start not from the target wall, but in your studio, at home, on paper. And this is precisely the first great advantage of Stencil Art: there is no rush. You don’t have to finish everything in a few hours because the drawing is comfortably designed and created at home. In this phase, you can move in many different ways. It is possible to draw by hand the drawing to be reproduced on the wall in full size, on a large paper (or better, cardboard) billboard; or it is possible to create the drawing with a graphics program, and then print it; or again, in some cases, we start from actual photographs, which – after having increased the contrast to the maximum to bring out the lines – are printed in the typography.

Cut out the design

Well, now we have our starting design. But how do you get it back on a wall? It is immediately said that the drawing is cut out to create the mask for the mural. Here too, there are several possibilities. It is possible to directly cut out the cardboard used to draw or to print the image. Still, you can also put everything on an acetate sheet (in that case, place the acetate sheet on top of the original drawing. Thanks to its transparency, it will be easily cut out using a small knife or a utility knife). The disadvantage of acetate is that it is slightly more challenging to cut out: you can overcome this obstacle without too much effort with a sharp knife. Cutting out a complex design can be long and difficult: sometimes, in the case of many details, whole days of work are necessary, being careful to leave the necessary ‘bridges’ between one part of the support and the other (one cut too much could seriously compromise the final result).

Use stencils and spray cans

At this point, finally, it is possible to take all your Street Art accessories and, together with your stencil, face the chosen wall. Therefore, not only aerosol cans are indispensable, but also a nice roll of scotch paper to fix the stencil to the wall in a perfectly healthy way, a possible sheet to protect the floor, some caps for spray cans to add any details (as a Calligraphy Cap for the signature) and a couple of sketching pencils (because you never know). Once the stencil is attached to the wall, you can start creating the mural: one hand – covered by a nice latex glove – will have to keep the stencil well adherent to the wall, while the other will handle the spray can from the chosen distance and with pressure more fitting.

Many stencil artworks require only one color and one mask; in other cases, instead, you opt for several different colors and multiple masks – such as one for the background and another for the details. Here we are at the end of this guide to making stencils with Street Art accessories: now all you need is to find the right inspiration. To buy spray cans, capsules, and other quality accessories for Stencil Art at affordable prices, visit the pages of our e-commerce!

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