Stencil Tutorials: Make a Stencil


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Creating a Custom Stencil using Adobe Photoshop:

In this tutorial we show you step-by-step how to create a nice stencil from a photo you might have. Here we take a photo of Vice President Dick Cheney and turn it into a Stencil. (8 Steps)

Before and After pics of the Dick Cheney Stencil

Step 1: Select an Image you want to make a stencil of and Open it in Photoshop. For a good stencil, make sure that the picture is high resolution and that there are clear shadows and highlights. We can see Dick has sharp shadows around his nose, mouth and eye areas.

Open the Image of Dick Cheney

Step 2: Cut out all of the Background. I just use the Brush tool and paint the background all white.

Cut out the Background

Step 3: Pick out areas that are light, that you want to be seen in the stencil...then color them black. When we start adjusting the Brightness/Contrast Dick's hair will just dissapear because it's white. This is an important feature for his face so I'm coloring it in black. Later in the tutorial I have to go back and add in some of his cheek lines because they are too light (I didn't catch them here)

Lighten the Dark areas of the Stencil

This is also a good time to mention that you should create a new layer when adding the black onto a photograph...that way it's easier to go back if you mess up. When you're done you can merge the layers (Ctrl +E)

Create a new layer

There, I've finished the darkening of his hair.

Now Dick's hair is black

Step 4: Adjust the Brightness/Contrast. Go to Image>Adjust>Brightness/Contrast

Adjust the Brightness and Contrast of the Image



We can almost start to see what the stencil is going to look like when we adjust the Brightness and Contrast of the image. Play with these controls and try to clearly define the light and dark images of the picture.

Starting to See Results

Step 5: Change the Image Mode to Greyscale. Since our stencil will be black and white, now's a good time to get it there. Go to Image>Mode>Greyscale. If Adobe Photoshop asks you to Flatten the image, select "Flatten"

Change Dick's Mode to Greyscale

Step 6: Re-Adjust the Brightness/Contrast. You're probably getting pretty good with this tool now. Play with it more and get your image as close as you can to Stencil-Ready.

Adjust the Contrast again

I needed just one more Adjustment...this time setting the Brightness at %100 and the Contrast at %100. Note: before you start fine toning your image, you need to make sure that you've adjusted the Contrast all the way to %100 at least once.

and again.



Step 7: The most important Step. Fine Tuning and Preparing the Stencil Image. This step takes time too. You will be alternating between black brushes and white brushes to clean up the image. The Area inside the red box has not been touched up yet. The red arrows point to little windows I made in the image. These are important because whenever you actually cut out the stencil, these little windows make the stencil much stronger and sturdier. Add them where ever you can without compromising the design of the stencil. Also, make sure that there are not "Islands of White" surrounded by a "Sea of Black". Notice on the touched up part that the white can flow everywhere. On the non-touched up box you can see that there are a few "White Islands" in the eye and around the glasses frame...these need to be touched up or filled in.

Fine Tune the Stencil and Make Touch-Ups

As I completed tuning up the stencil I made sure to have lots of windows to allow the white to flow well through out the stencil. The Red Arrows point out some of the key changes I made.

Lots of windows make a good stencil

Step 8: Finding the Edges. Now after all that back breaking work our stencil is finally complete. You can just print it out or prepare it with edges to save your printer's ink. Go to Filter>Stylize>Find Edges. Adobe Photoshop will automatically create the edges for you. Also, this is the point where I added a few cheek lines before I created the edges.

Find the edges to save printer ink

There you have it, A Custom Stencil made by your, ready to print (Just make sure your image size will fit on an 8.5"x11" paper. Image>Image Size

Taa Daaa you're done with your Dick Cheney Stencil

The Before and After Images are below for you to download and try for youself:

Dick Cheney Image Dick Cheney Stencil Dick Stencil with outlines

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