How To Make Stencils!

Learning how to make stencils from a photo or image you love is another part of this fun and exciting hobby!

Watch as this frog picture becomes a simple single layer stencil which is a complete design on one sheet. It will have gaps or bridges between the individual elements of the design which emphasize the details of the image.

Frog Stencil from

Remember, the best images have high contrast with few variations. So let’s start with something simple. I am using an image of a frog. First of all, I like him. Second of all, he has a little variation in color but is really not too detailed. And he will be a good subject for showing you how to create islands and bridges from an image.

If your image has a lot of colors and depth and you need to simplify it, put it on a copy machine and get a black and white print of it. Take your black and white image to your drawing table or desk. Top your image with a piece of thin tracing paper and begin to create an outline separating the different parts of the image. Take the term “separating” seriously. Areas should have clear boundaries that allow bridges to appear around the islands or openings where paint is to be applied. Make sure the bridges are wide enough to keep paint from seeping under and smudging your image.

Tree Frog Stencil from

This is what my single layer frog stencil looks like when separated into islands and bridges. (He's available in our Free Stencils too.)

Notice how the islands and bridges developed as each part of the frog and branch were isolated. Some detail was lost like the branch between the frog's toes but that is the disadvantage of a single layer stencil. The advantage, of course, is that you only have one sheet to cut and paint.

Now that you have your stencil, click on Long-Term Stencil Making for some hints and tips that will help you prepare your stencils to be saved for future use.

You can design a stencil with more detail that would eliminate the bridges. If this interests you, read about how to make a stencil with tips on deciding if a simple or complex design is good for you and your picture.

Excellent! It’s time to put paint to your stencil. You should be a pro at this by now but if you need help or want to review, go to How to Stencil for the details. Or you can watch the video near the bottom of this page.

Single Layer Frog Stencil from

Here is what my painted Single Overlay Frog looks like.

Color brings the image back to life! A lot of the detail has been lost. Yet with practice and experience you can add details by using two or more colors in a single overlay stencil.

Well, you have taken your hobby of stenciling one step further by learning how to make stencils from your own image. I know that sometimes when I get to the drawing table and try to break a sketch down into islands and bridges I end up rubbing my head. But I persevere and it all comes together. I hope you had a great time learning how to make stencils!

You have to see this cute Frog Stencil Painted Furniture Project! Just imagine what you can do when you master how to make stencils of your own.

You can design a stencil that would look more like the top image without bridges and having much more detail. Learn about making stencils with Multiple Overlays.

Maybe you wanted to learn how to make stencils because you couldn't find the perfect designs. Well, we now have a large variety of Downloadable and Printable Stencils.

Below is a sample of the design books that we offer. The first book includes the Frog used as an example in this How To Make Stencils Article.

Each book will come to you as a downloadable pdf file in your e-mail. Just check your e-mail after purchase for the link to connect to your file and print or save. It's that easy!

All designs can be adjusted to fit your project size. Instructions are included. Pages are 8.5” x 11”.

If you'd rather get your Stencil Books in Print, just click the blue button below each book.

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Frogs Stencil Book from

Red-Eyed Tree Frogs

This book contains 4 cute Red-Eyed Tree Frogs for you to paint in your next project. Bring a little of the rain forest to your home. There are 37 pages in this pdf file which includes the stencils of all 4 frogs (each has 5 overlays) and complete instructions.

Price: $9.95

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To get this book in print for just $19.95 click here:

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Fleur de lis Stencil Book from

Fleur de lis: Book of Stencils

This collection includes 22 designs. Ten are easy single overlay. Six have 2 overlays and six have 3 overlays.

This purchase is of a PDF file which has 63 pages.

Price: $9.95

Add to Cart

To get this book in print for just $19.95 click here:

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Antique Door Hardware Stencil Book from

Antique Door Hardware: A Book of Stencils

This collection includes 5 designs- Lion Head Door Knocker, Key Bow, Lock Plate and Mail Box Plaque (with two word options). These images should add a little fun and even some humor to the doors in your home while they introduce a touch of the past.

This purchase is of a PDF file with 25 pages.

Price: $9.95

Add to Cart

To get this book in print for just $19.95 click here:

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Oriental Designs Stencil Book from

Oriental Designs: A Book of Stencils

This collection includes 16 designs- Chinese Dragon, Bamboo, Oriental Figure with Coolie Hat, Ying Yang Koi, Bonsai Tree and 3 Cranes plus 10 Chinese Symbols (Eternity, Friendship, Happiness, Harmony, Long Life, Peace, Prosperity, Tranquility, Truth and Dragon.

This purchase is of a PDF file with 40 pages.

Price: $9.95

Add to Cart

To get this book in print for just $19.95 click here:

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Secret Garden Stencil Book from

The Secret Garden

Create your own private garden retreat. This collection includes 12 designs-fountain, bleeding heart, iris, bee, butterfly, foxglove, grasshopper, hummingbird, trumpet flower, morning glory, stone wall and stone path.

This purchase is of a PDF file with 51 pages.

Price: $9.95

Add to Cart

To get this book in print for just $19.95 click here:

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

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Stencil Books from

If you'd rather get your Stencil Pattern Books in Print (like these or the Red Eyed Tree Frogs from above) then visit our Printer's Book Shop for a large variety of stencil collections. These books are easy to follow and come with complete instructions. You'll find all of the stencil designs used as samples throughout this site. Logo

The stencil designs used on this page are courtesy of Designs From Penny. - Online Art Supplies

Now that you know how to make stencils, you'll find a need for stencil making supplies, like mylar and acetate. Blick Art Materials can provide you with a large variety of what you need and many other art supplies.

Save up to 75% art and craft supplies!

Another stop when seeking stencil making materials is They have a few options of films (for permanent use) and Bee Paper Stencil Oil Board which is cardstock thick so you are able to use more than once when stenciling (but not permanent). You'll find they have a dedicated section for stenciling.

Still looking for more information about How To Make Stencils? has a couple of suggestions for books related to stenciling.

Wait, wait! Here's the video on the Basic Stenciling Techniques that I promised you. Enjoy!

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Please share your ideas and any variations to this project you have!

Learning anything is so much easier when you can watch it being done in live motion. So, don't miss the very informative Art Videos that will step you through the many processes of using stencils to create art.

If it's Free Stencils you are looking for you'll find more than you can imagine here. It's my mission to get you motivated to creating art with stencils so I've created all the most popular stencil designs but some rare designs too (like Toile Stencils) and they're all Free!

For art supplies, books and much more please visit our Affiliates below.

Up to 80% off art and craft supplies!

Save up to 75% on Art Supplies! has a dedicated department for stencil supplies. Here you'll find stencil films, paints, books and tools plus and extensive selection of applicators including brushes and sponges.

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In these times, we're always looking for a bargain. CreateForLess has a good selection of plastic palettes for you to choose. Plus you'll find Delta Ceramacoat and DecoArt Paints, stencil brushes and applicators, a few pre-cut stencil designs, and many other items on your stencil supplies checklist.

Crafts & Supplies at! carries a variety of high quality acrylic paints, great for stenciling. You'll find brands like Delta Ceramacoat, Folk Art, Americana and DecoArt. They also provide paint applicators and many other arts and crafts and stencil supplies.

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.