Airbrush Stencils can help you get your artwork started with clean lines on an image that you can embellish with freehand brush strokes or they can be the entire base of your project.
First, I’d like to start with this
Skull and Crossbones Stencil. I think that this is a popular image for working with Airbrush Art. Keep scrolling down for more
Free Stencils, lots of tips and a great video.
Airbrushing is an Art form that’s been around since the 1970s. It became popular in the automotive industry when people started airbrushing scenes onto the sides of vans, hoods of cars and on motorcycles. It soon moved on to clothing like T-shirts and today is even used for decorating fingernails. Airbrush Tattoo Stencils are also very popular (we have a couple of freebies for you courtesy of our Tribal Stencils ).
An airbrush is simply a compact blower much like a tattoo needle. There is a small cup which holds paint or ink. The airbrush is connected to a hose that is plugged into an air compressor. When turned on and the trigger compressed the air shoots through the airbrush taking a mist of paint with it.
Some designs require freehand airbrushing. But with common images an airbrush stencil can be used in order to lay it out on whatever material you are airbrushing. Airbrush stencils can get the image started and then you can customize it freehand or you can create the whole design with stencils.
Airbrushing expressly uses the art of shading and layering colors. By nature the distance the airbrush is held from your surface creates either lighter or darker colors which in itself creates the features unique to airbrushing.
Custom Creation of Airbrush Stencils:
Free stencils are great but how better to be unique than to design your own airbrush stencils. There are several ways to create your own stencil. You can sketch one out by hand or you can design one on your computer. Let’s start with the basics – the hand sketch design.
So, you’ve sketched an image that you want to convey to a separate media (like a T-shirt) with airbrush. Usually we sketch, draw, design on thin sketch paper. If that’s what you have, don’t worry. Some people like to work on a thicker medium like card stock (or non-glossy photo paper). If that’s your choice you can copy the design onto the card stock or if you don’t have access to a copy machine you can even use a spray glue to attach your sketch to the card stock.
Actually, I like to work with just the airbrush stencil on plain paper. It’s thinner and hugs your surface better. A stencil that sits close to your surface gives you cleaner edges. But, I always cover the top of the paper with a clear protective cover like clear shelf liner before cutting out the image. The other advantage about paper is that it is so much easier to cut out your design.
This shooting star stencil may be from the face paint stencils collection but you could use it as airbrush stencils too. In fact, check out other forms of stencils for patterns that might work for you.
Now, if you have a computer with an Image Altering Software like Photoshop you have other options. First you need to get your image into a file that can be opened in your software (such as a .jpg file). You can scan the image you want into your computer or design and draw it with the software.
With a computer you can adjust the size of your image. Or you can print many copies of the same design in different sized. Use the “Print Preview” to get an idea of how big your image will be when printed on an 8-1/2” x 11” size paper and adjust accordingly. Also, Photoshop will give you the exact measurement when you use the Pull Down Menu under “Image” and select “Image Size.” Once you get the size just where you want, print it on card stock or on plain paper and cover it with a clear protective coating like described above.
Cut out the openings (islands) with an X-acto knife. Make sure your blade is sharp. I find it best to hold the stencil down firmly and turning it carefully as I cut so that my wrist is in the most comfortable position. By cutting this way I have the strength I need to get clean cuts in one pass. Take your time and keep an eye on the blade at all times.
For more about this go to
Cutting Out Stencils.
Painting with Your Airbrush Stencils:
Secure your stencil to the surface of the item that you are airbrushing with masking tape. Also, cover any outside areas of the surface with scrap paper to prevent overspray.
Mix the acrylic ink until you receive the desired color. Fill an airbrush tool with the ink and airbrush the areas of the stencil openings. Spray the paint at a direct 90 degree angle (straight over the stencil openings) so that the force of the spray puts pressure on the stencil to hug the surface instead of blowing the stencil up and allowing paint to spray under and blur your clean lines.
Let the ink dry overnight. After the ink has dried, remove the stencil, paper and tape. (See below for more steps if you are airbrushing t-shirts).
Using Airbrush Stencils on T-Shirts:
Airbrush Stenciling is used on many mediums but perhaps the most popular is with T-Shirts. You can design a custom T-shirt with a special type of paint or acrylic ink. Airbrush stencils guide the T-shirt painting process and help keep the t-shirt from stretching which would cause your design to be ruined.
For airbrushing Custom T-shirts, follow the instructions above and when the paint is dry, place wax paper on top of the new image on the T-shirt and iron it with the iron on high. This will set the image and keep it from coming out in later washings. The last step is to hand-wash your T-shirt.
If you want to know more about working with stencils in designing clothes check out these two pages:
How to Garment Stenciling and
Hey! Don’t forget that I (and everyone else) want to see what you have done with your airbrush stencils. Just click on Stenciling Projects
to get your masterpiece showcased here on this web site. Won’t that be exciting! Or if you have any questions or want to share information join in on the Stencil Blog. Well, I hope to hear from you soon.
P.S. We are thrilled to introduce our selection of Stencil Designs. Instant gratification at its finest! You don't need a special printer - these designs are specially formatted to print from your home computer on standard letter sized paper. Once downloaded, you will have your complete stencil booklet with patterns and instructions. Just click, buy and print!
If you’d rather get your Stencil Pattern Books in Print, then visit our Printer’s Book Shop for the same designs in book format that will be mailed to you. You’ll find all of the stencils used as examples throughout this site.
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You'll be amazed at how many Free Stencils we have to offer to you! Just to make it easy, here are the links to all the freebies.
By the way, if you're looking for Free Christmas Stencils or Free Halloween Stencils, there were too many to list here so go to
Art Deco Stencil
Art Nouveau Stencil
Graffiti Art Stencils
Palm Tree Wall Stencils
Free Printable Stencils
Quilting Stencil Patterns
Skull and Crossbones Stencil
Teddy Bear Stencil
Trompe l oeil
Tropical Flower Stencil
I hope you truly enjoy these Free Stencils! Thank you so much for visiting and come back soon for more Stenciling Ideas!
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If it's pre-cut stencil designs that you are looking for, then may I suggest Stencil Ease. They have decorative, alphabet and industrial designs or they can custom make one for you. You'll also find Americana Acrylic Paints and other stencil supplies.
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