How to use gimp stencil

Written by elizabeth valentine
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How to use gimp stencil
Stencils (lots of shapes image by timur1970 from

"Stencil Carve" and "Stencil Chrome" are both fun effects in the free graphic editing program Gimp, a shortened name for the GNU Image Manipulation Program. Designers often use the former tool to create carved-like results from everyday digital images. "Stencil Carve" is a user friendly tool, but you have to prepare your photo first in order to apply the filtered effect.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Digital photograph

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  1. 1

    Locate the digital photograph file you wish to edit and open it using Gimp. If you are viewing a thumbnail in a "My Pictures" folder, for example, you can right-click on the image and hover over "Open With" in order to open the relevant program. If you do not see Gimp as an option, select "Choose Program" to access it, following the necessary prompts.

    How to use gimp stencil
    Locating Digital Files (Computer image by Altmann from
  2. 2

    Convert your photo to grayscale. Select "Image" then "Mode," choosing "Grayscale" from the listed options. Do not create a duplicate layer of your image first or insert any new layers, as this will insert an alpha channel and disable the "Stencil Carve" function.

    How to use gimp stencil
    Grayscale (keyboard typing image by palms from
  3. 3

    Select "Filters" and then "Décor," clicking on "Stencil Carve." View the "Script-Fu: Stencil Carve" pop-up box and verify your image is listed as "Image to Carve." Leave the "Carve white areas" box checked, if desired, and select "OK." After the effect has been applied, a new workbook will appear featuring the final product--a layered look of cast shadows, insets, bevel highlights, bevel shadows and a carved surface--which can simply be saved using a regular picture file extension such as ".jpg" or ".png."

    How to use gimp stencil
    Save (grayscale snow on trees image by Evan Meyer from

Tips and warnings

  • Gimp hosts a number of other relevant effects and tools such as "Emboss" and "Engrave," located under the "Distorts" section of "Filters."
  • Simply saving your workbook as a picture will merge all of the file's layers. Also save your work using an ".xcf" file extension in order to preserve the layered workbook for future edits.

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