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)
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.
Step 2: Cut out all of the Background. I just use the
Brush tool and paint the background all white.
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)
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)
There, I've finished the darkening of his hair.
Step 4: Adjust the Brightness/Contrast. Go to Image>Adjust>Brightness/Contrast
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.
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"
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
The Before and After Images are below for you to download
and try for youself: