How to Make a Stencil With a Dot Matrix Printer

Updated February 21, 2017

A stencil is a template that is used to draw or paint art for various purposes by tracing over or between the lines of the template. Stencils may be used for signs, posters, and walls. These are just a few of the uses for a stencil but many more exist. The result is a drawing that can be coloured between the lines or used to trace a tattoo onto the skin.

Open up a graphics editing program. Many different programs maybe used to convert a drawing to line art, which is a drawing composed of a black-lined framework of the original drawing, so that it is devoid of colours and any shading between the lines. Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro may be used but several free programs, such as GIMP or IrfanView, do just as fine. IrfanView is used in this guide. Download IrfanView from its website and install.

Prepare the stencil drawing. Run IrfanView. Go to "File", click "Open" and choose the art to convert to a line drawing. It is best to use a simple grayscale drawing for best results. Go up to "Image", scroll down to "Effects" and choose "Edge Detection". Go back into the "Image" menu and choose "Negative" to create a negative image of the original are. Go into the "Image" menu again, choose "Decrease Color Depth" and, inside of that menu, choose "Two Colors" and click "OK". The drawing should now be a simple line art drawing suitable for colouring or tattooing.

Prepare the stencil paper by removing the protective layer from the stencil paper. The protective layer is the layer that is attached to middle black sheet of paper between the white and yellow players. Load the paper into the dot matrix printer with the yellow side up.

Print the stencil. Open up any printer program and print the line drawing with a dot matrix printer. These types of printers are perfect for stencils because they press down into the paper, leaving the drawing on top of the paper and an imprint into the second layer of paper.


The printer needs to be a dot matrix specifically. Other types of printers only leave a light coating of ink on the top layer of paper but a dot matrix is required to leave a deep imprint into the paper. Many graphics programs have a print function built-in.

Things You'll Need

  • Dot Matrix Printer
  • Thermal Fax or Stencil paper
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About the Author

John Gugie has been a freelance writer for a decade. His work is diverse, from editorials and research papers to entertainment, humor and more. He holds a degree in finance from Moravian College of Pennsylvania. He writes for several sites including Associated Content, Helium and Examiner.