How to Easily Make Custom Stencils

Sometimes art can be nerve-wracking. Like when your friend gives you a mailbox to stencil and you’ve never stenciled on something that cost money before. Here’s a tutorial and some tips on making your own custom stencil!

What You’ll Need

  • Thick Sketch Paper/Poster Paper
  • Painting Tape
  • X-ACTO Knife
  • Paint

Step 1

I suggest sketching your design on scrap paper first so that you know exactly what you’re going for. On a thick piece of sketch paper, draw your design or the letters you wish to stencil. Take a step back and make sure it is exactly as you want it to look. It’s a simple step, but don’t worry, it’s about to get dangerous!

Step 2

Once you have your stencil looking the way you want it to, it’s time to bust out your X-ACTO Knife. Be sure to place an old magazine or a piece of cardboard underneath the paper you are about to cut so you don’t destroy whatever table you’re working on – nobody likes a cut up table. CAREFULLY (I can’t stress that enough), start to cut out your design. I like to just do line by line as it gives your hand a break and it’s less likely you’ll cut out of your lines.

Cutting Out The Stencil From Drawing
Cutting Out The Stencil From Drawing

Once you’re finished you can take the extra step to tape your stencil to whatever you’re trying to transfer it onto to. This way you can see how it looks in case there are any changes you’d like to make.

Previewing The Stencil Before Painting
Previewing The Stencil Before Painting

Step 3

Once you’re happy with your stencil, make sure it is taped up all around so you can start painting (use painter’s tape for sensitive materials). Of course it will depend what you’re actually painting on to determine what type of paint/spray paint to use. That will take a little research online or at your local craft/paint store. On this mailbox I used Gesso first because it was an aluminum surface and I wasn’t sure if my acrylic paint would hold onto it by itself. However, Gesso is basically used as a primer to hold the acrylic paint in place so I painted two layers of that on first. Once dried, I painted three layers of my white acrylic paint over the stencil, which I still had taped in place. You might not need so many layers, that was just my OCD kicking in – I just wanted to make sure it was overly smooth and had no streaks.

First Coats of Gesso Using Stencil
First Coats of Gesso Using Stencil

Step 4

I usually try to take a stencil off before the paint dries because sometimes when you’re painting with thick acrylic paint, it dries to multiple objects and then you peel one off and some of the paint will sometimes come off with it. That’s never a good look! So once I had my last layer on I slowly and carefully peeled off the tape and the stencil along with it. Holding my breathe the entire time! This was my end result:

Finished Mailbox from Custom Stencil
Finished Mailbox from Custom Stencil

What will you be making a stencil of? I would love to see your stencils in the comments below!

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About Juelz

Juelz is an artist that specializes in traditional arts such as drawing and painting while gathering her inspiration from life’s occurrence. Juelz also loves to perfect bakery confections and hopes to bring the feeling of art others.

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