Stencil Patterns – The Difference Between Single and Multiple Layer Stencils!

When discussing stencil patterns, you need to be familiar with the differences between a single and a multiple layer stencil.

Single Layer (Silhouette) Stencils are complete with only one stencil. I call these Silhouette Stencils because they create an image that appears to be a shadow or silhouette of an object. They do not offer much opportunity to use more than one color.

Multiple Layer (Overlay) Stencils consist of more than one stencil (called overlays) and they leave you with a more complete image than a Single Layer Stencil. If you are really trying to get that hand painted look, a Multi-Layer Stencil is a must. They are more work of course but the results are well worth it.

Multiple Overlay Stencil vs. Single Layer Stencil Patterns

A single overlay stencil is a complete design on a single sheet. It will have gaps or bridges between the individual elements of the design which emphasize the details of the image. The frog below is from a single layer stencil. Even though he has several different colors his details are not well defined. Notice the spaces between the elements of his form.

Frog Stencil from

Multiple overlay stencils use two or more sheets to define more detail of a design. The completed image will not have any gaps. The frog below has 5 overlays. Each overlay is for a different color. This frog’s details are well defined.

Multiple Overlay Frog Stencil from

Aligning Multiple Overlay Stencils

Multiple Overlay Stencils are designed with registration holes which are used to mark your stenciling surface. This allows the correct positioning of each overlay with respect to the previously stenciled area. Registration holes (marks) may be in the form of triangles or circles.

Stencils from

Each stencil overlay will be numbered. Align your first overlay as you would a single overlay stencil in the area to be painted. Tape all the edges. Use a pencil to mark the registration holes (they can be erased or painted over when your project is finished). Hint: To avoid marking the surface, place pieces of low-tack tape on the surface area of the registration holes and place the marks on the tape.

After applying the paint, carefully remove overlay #1. Do any touching up that needs to be done. Allow the paint to dry.

When the paint of overlay #1 is thoroughly dry, put overlay #2 in place and line up with the registration holes. When the overlay is lined up, tape and apply paint.

Continue in this same manner with each overlay until you have a completed picture.

Don’t forget to eliminate the registration marks.

Well, that's about it in a nutshell. Hopefully this page has helped you become aware of the different stencil patterns available so you can make the best choices for your art projects.

In an effort to bring you a complete solution for all of your stenciling needs, we now have a catalog for you to browse a large variety of designs that you can open at your computer and print now or save. Just check out our Printable Stencils for your next project.

Below is a sample of the design books that we offer. This book includes the stencils used as examples on this page. 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”.

Tree Frog Stencil from

Red-Eyed Tree Frogs Book

Bring a little of the rain forest to your home.

Four Tree Frog Stencil Designs -

Each book will come to you as a downloadable pdf with 37 8.5"x11" pages. All designs can be adjusted to fit your project size. Instructions are included. Check your e-mail after purchase for the link to connect to your file and print or save. It's that easy!

Price: $9.95

Buy Now

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

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Solution Graphics

Stencil Books from

If you’d rather get your Stencil Pattern Books in Print (like these or the Tree Frogs from above), then visit our Printer’s Book Shop for a large variety of stencil collections. You’ll find all of the stencil patterns used as examples throughout this site.

Well, that's all for now.

Happy Stenciling,


Here's a video about Stenciling Wall Borders that I think you might find interesting. Enjoy!

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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 are looking for Free Christmas Stencils or Free Halloween Stencils, there were too many to list here so go to Holiday Crafts!

Airbrush Stencils

Angel Stencil

Animal Stencils

Art Deco Stencil

Art Nouveau Stencil

Butterfly Stencils

Cat Stencils

Celtic Stencils

Cool Stencils

Cross Stencil

Dinosaur Stencil

Dog Stencil

Dolphin Stencil

Eagle Stencil

Flower Stencils

Graffiti Art Stencils

Grapevine Stencil

Guitar Stencil

Heart Stencil

Letter Stencils

Palm Tree Wall Stencils

Pineapple Stencil

Free Printable Stencils

Paisley Stencil

Quilting Stencil Patterns

Rose Stencil

Skull and Crossbones Stencil

Southwestern Stencils

Sports Stencils

Stencils Quilting

Teddy Bear Stencil

Toile Stencils

Tree Stencils

Tribal Stencil

Trompe l oeil

Tropical Flower Stencil

Valentine Stencils

I hope you truly enjoy these Free Stencils! Thank you so much for visiting and coming back soon for more Stenciling Ideas!

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If it's pre-cut stencil designs that you are looking for, then I may 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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