A Stenciling Technique to Help You Make the Right Color Choices

So, you're looking for a stenciling technique or ideas about using color in your art. Well, choosing the right colors is essential to the success of your project!

You could do a beautiful job. The stencils can come out clear and crisp. But if the colors are off, it will be a disaster. Believe me I know because I have created many of them (see below for proof). Think about this carefully. What is going to match your background color? If you have a multi-color stencil, which colors will work well together and stand out from the background color? Be aware of what items come in contact with each other and make sure that touching objects don’t use the same color causing them to blend together. You want each item to be clearly visible yet sometimes just a subtle difference is best.

There is no fool proof rule of thumb, so you will need to use your own eye and find what pleases you. However, I can share with you a stenciling technique that I use and show you some of the bad color choices that I have made in the past.

Most stencils that you purchase either tell you exactly what colors to use or make suggestions. However, there are times that you may be on your own for color choices. For example, you may not be able to find a color that is suggested for the stencil or you may be in a situation where the colors suggested will not work with your background color so you need to choose an alternative.

Start with an image of what you want your stencil to look like when it is completed. If you purchased a stencil that came with a picture of the painted image - great. If not, maybe you can make a copy of the stencil outline and use crayons or color pencils to put in the colors you want. The point is to have an idea of where you are going with the colors. If you already have a few paints on hand, try to find options from your supply to work with the stencil. If not, take the image to a craft supply store and match up some colors there or shop on-line.

Here are some examples of wrong color choices and then the better color choices with a short discussion on the differences.

The colors of the Dragon on the left don’t blend well together. Shadows and highlights are not very well defined. The colors of the Dragon on the right work well together, and are much more pleasing to the eye. The two colors chosen for the wings are similar so that the image makes more sense.

Bad Pink Dragon from www.all-about-stencils.com
Pink Dragon Stencil from www.all-about-stencils.com

The color tones of the Piggy on the left are not pleasing to the eye. While the light pink works, the other two pinks are too far from the same tone to blend well. The color differences should be a little more subtle like the one on the right.

Bad Piggy from www.all-about-stencils.com
Piggy Stencil from www.all-about-stencils.com

The color differences of the Lion on the left are too wide. The darker color jumps out and leaves the rest behind. They should work together like the Lion on the right.

Bad Lion from www.all-about-stencils.com
Lion Stencil from www.all-about-stencils.com

So, in a nutshell, this stenciling technique is to make color choices based on the requirements of your stencil for subtle or contrasting differences. In other words, do your colors need to be next to each other on the color chart (one shade off) or do they need to come from opposite ends.

Working with the Background Color

Always keep in mind your background color. How will your stencil colors blend with the background? Will they have enough contrast to make the image stand out or will your color choices make the image hard to see? Notice how the dragon on the left looks faded on the pink background but the green dragon on the right is bright and distinct.

Pink Dragon Stencil from www.all-about-stencils.com
Green Dragon Stencil from www.all-about-stencils.com

Mixing Your Own Colors?

I highly recommend using paints straight from the bottle. Once you have mixed your own color it is almost impossible to match. If you need to touch up or use more of the same color you will be out of luck.

Well, as you may now see, deciding on the right colors can be a job. But believe me it is well worth every effort you put into it. Once you have your color choices, label the stencil overlays with the names of the paint. This can help avoid any mix up and you'll have a record of the colors used for the project.

I hope this stenciling technique list was full of useful tips for your next project.

In an effort to bring to you a complete solution for all of your stenciling needs, we now have a catalog for you to browse a large variety of designs. So, check out our Stencils Catalog for your next project.

Below is a sample of the design books that we offer. These books include 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”.

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

Click on the book image for Project Ideas.

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Princess Stencil Book from www.all-about-stencils.com

For a Princess: A Book of Stencils

This collection includes 7 designs- Royal Carriage, Knight in Shining Armor, Castle, Dragon, Sceptre, Tiara and Pillow plus the word "Princess."

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.

On the Farm Stencil Book from www.all-about-stencils.com

On the Farm: A Book of Stencils

With these stencils you can create the perfect barn yard setting for your little one. This collection includes 9 designs- a Cow, a Chicken, a Pig, a Sheep, a Lamb, a Horse, Fence, a Barn and a Tractor.

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.

Zoo Babies Stencil Book from www.all-about-stencils.com

Zoo Babies: Stencils for a Nursery

This collection includes 7 designs- an Elephant, a Giraffe, a Hippo, a Lion, a Monkey, a Tiger and a Zebra.

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.

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Stencil Books from www.all-about-stencils.com

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

Now, here's a video with some great hints and tips on the Basic Techniques. Enjoy!

Fun and Exiting Craft Ideas from DesignsFromPenny.com

The stencil designs used as examples on this stenciling technique page are courtesy of Designs From Penny.

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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.

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