What's a stencil?
A stencil is a template made by cutting a design into stiff paper, plastic, cardboard, or metal. You use a stencil to apply a design to a surface by spraying or brushing paint through the cut out areas of a template so that the pattern will be reproduced on the surface below.
How do you turn a photo into a set of stencils?
Fundamentally, it's a three step process. First the large variety of colors in the image are reduced to a small number of colors. Second, the smaller shapes are combined into larger shapes that form (typically) smooth curves. Finally, the curves of each color are separated out so that they can be cut independently.
How do you make the stencils?
Vector image files are used as inputs to Corel Draw on a PC that is connected to a laser cutter instead of a printer. The laser cutter is a 45W EPILOG table laser, which can cut card stock at 40% power at a rate of 15 inches per second.
What kind of photo makes a good stencil?
Professional quality photographs make good stencils. Dramatically lit photos of cars and trucks make good stencils. If you want to take a picture of someone's face to make a stencil from, make sure the person's face is lit from the side so that shadows fall across the face and accentuate the best details of the face.
Which is better--card stock or mylar?
Once you spray a stencil a few times, the layers of paint make a card stock stencil as water-resistant as a mylar stencil. However for applications where you want to paint the stencil repeatedly with little 'resting' time, a mylar stencil makes the most sense. Mylar lasts forever and is much less likely to tear. Card stock stencils are a little bit more rigid, and--if dried flat--are a little easier to work with in vertical application.