How to Make a Graffiti Stencil

Written by julie elefante
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How to Make a Graffiti Stencil
Make your own graffiti stencils to decorate your stuff. (stock.xchng)

Graffiti stencils are used to paint usually monochromatic text or images quickly and repeatedly on multiple types of surfaces. Because these stencils are usually used repeatedly, they should be made out of somewhat sturdy material to make them reusable and easy to clean. They should be able to stand up under multiple layers of paint if they cannot be washed right away, but also be light to carry and easy to store during transport. These stencils are made on acetate, which fulfils these major criteria needed for a graffiti stencil.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Stencil template material such as clear acetate
  • Masking tape
  • X-Acto blade or small utility knife

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  1. 1

    Draw your stencil design onto your paper. Fill in spaces that you'll want the paint to fill. If you have floating objects, such as the centre of the letter "O," you'll have to bridge the centre of the O to the paper instead of cutting the centre completely away.

    How to Make a Graffiti Stencil
    Note how intriciate sections and floating pieces are bridged.
  2. 2

    Tape your stencil design to your acetate, with the design facing the acetate.

  3. 3

    Use your blade to cut the design out of the acetate. If your design is intricate, cut the smallest parts out first, the work away from the most intricate cuts. Otherwise, you can simply cut from the top to the bottom of your design.

  4. 4

    Remove your paper design and tape from your new acetate stencil.

Tips and warnings

  • When drawing your design, shade in the parts that will be filled with paint so you will be sure that all the necessary bridges are built into the design and so you will be sure of what to cut away when cutting your template.
  • If you want to clean your template and the paint is hard to remove, use some diluted paint thinner.
  • If you don't have access to acetate, you could use thick paper, such as paper used to make manila or report folders. Multiple layers of paint will often strengthen the stencil, making it sturdier.
  • The type of blades you'd use to cut templates are very sharp, so use caution while cutting your template. Hold your template down with your other hand while cutting, but keep the stabilising hand well away from the blade, and never cut toward it.
  • Defacing public property and private property that isn't yours is against the law in most places. Graffiti stencils should be used only on your personal property unless you know you are working in a space where graffiti is allowed.

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