A "Stencil" is a piece of paper with the center shape cutout. You can use a stencil to paint, draw, or color in a perfect shape and repeat that shape again on multiple surfaces. There are a ton of awesome uses for stencils like making wall art, handmade birthday cards, and custom signs for classrooms, weddings, and businesses, to name a few.
To create a custom stencil with your own text or image, you'll need to create a sketch online then print and cutout the outlined center with scissors. In this tutorial, I'll show you how to create the stencil online then use it for offline art and creative work. You can also share your stencil with others so that they can download and reuse the same design.
- Design the Stencil Online
- Cutout Paper Center
- Use by Filling in the Cutout Parts
1. Design the Stencil Online
This tutorial uses a simple online tool called Kapwing to create the stencil design. Start out by going to Kapwing.com and clicking "Get Started." Choose "Start with blank canvas" to get going.
Now you want to set the stencil to the right size for printing. Click the "Custom Size" button and input the Width and Height (in pixels) you’d like your canvas to be. I recommend 2400 by 3000 px for a 8x11 piece of paper.
Finished projects in the Kapwing Studio are downloaded as PNG’s, so you can always scale the size of your stencil later on if you’d like to make it larger or smaller.
Now it's time to add text and shapes to the canvas for your stencil design. Use the "Elements" button to add Shapes and the "Text" button to add words. I added the text "Welcome" and used the sliders to make my text larger. I also added a star to the page.
If you're working with text, click "Font Styles" and select the font you'd like your stencil to be from the dropdown. Browse the font to find a style that matches your vision. Wide, fat letters tend to do well for stencils because there's a lot of room to fill in the center with color. Sans Serif fonts also are easier to read – check out the Bowlby One, Impact, or Passion One font, for example. Avoid skinny fonts or shapes that could end up looking wispy.
To make the lines easier to cut, add a black outline to the visual elements you add on the page. However, I recommend making the inside of the stencil to be white or close to white so that you don't use as much ink in your printer.
You can also make stencils out of images you find online using Kapwing's "Erase" tool. This allows you to remove pixels from the interior of a JPG for a better stencil outline. For example, I searched for "Wave stencil" in the Images tool, then cropped the image to make it a better stencil outline.
Click the red "Export Image" button and voilà! Your completed stencil is now ready to Download, Print, and Share. Use the "Edit" button if you want to go back and make any changes.
Now that the stencil is ready to print, download it to your computer and print to the nearest printer.
When you click the "Download" button, the JPEG file will be saved on your computer. Find the JPEG file on your desktop system; most of the time, finals downloaded from Kapwing start with "final_".
Use the "File" menu to print your JPEG image. Find the closest printer and print out your stencil! If you have it, cardstock is a great backing for a stencil because it is more durable and easier to reuse and maintain over time.
3. Cut Out Paper Center
Use Scissors to cut out the center of the image and text. Bend the paper a bit to start the cut from the center. Then, follow the black outlines from the center to remove the paper center
4. Use the Stencil
Now your stencil is done! Use it by overlaying the printed cutouts on top of another piece of paper, then using a pencil, marker, paintbrush, or crayon to color in the stencil.
For more tutorials and tips on how to use the Kapwing Studio, check out more articles on our Resources page. From making stencils to surreal memes, we have tons of ideas for your next creative endeavor!