How to Turn a Photo Into a Stencil in Illustrator

Written by ken burnside Google
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share
  • Pin
  • Email
How to Turn a Photo Into a Stencil in Illustrator
Stencil effects like this one can be made by converting photos to vector art in Illustrator. ( Images)

Stencils are printed as masks or screens. You lay the stencil down on the surface you want to paint, and run the ink over the stencil; it goes through the holes in the stencil and paints the surface. The stencil is removed, and in a multi-screen process, the surface being printed on is shifted to the next stencil in question. Adobe Illustrator's Live Trace function allows vector-based stencils to be made easily from raster artwork, including a scanned photo.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Other People Are Reading

Things you need

  • A bitmap or raster image editor.

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Load your raster image in your raster editor of choice; this can be GIMP, Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro.

  2. 2

    Delete the background of the image you want to convert into a stencil, and replace it with white. Once that's done, outline the area you want to convert into a stencil with a 3-pixel wide black border.

  3. 3

    Convert the image to Gray Scale, using the fewest tints of grey that you can. Save the image in PNG, JPEG or GIF format.

  4. 4

    Start Illustrator with a blank artboard.

  5. 5

    Click on the "File" menu, and select "Place." Navigate to where you've stored your image, and double click on it. The image will be placed in Illustrator's artboard.

  6. 6

    Look above the artboard. You'll see a button labelled "Live Trace" and next to it a small button with an arrow. Click the small button with the arrow and select the "Black And White Logo" option. Illustrator will convert your artwork into a set of black and white vector objects.

Don't Miss

  • All types
  • Articles
  • Slideshows
  • Videos
  • Most relevant
  • Most popular
  • Most recent

No articles available

No slideshows available

No videos available

By using the site, you consent to the use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie policy.