How to Make a Stencil From a Photo

By Jennifer Hudock

Altering a photograph in your photo-editing software program is an easy way to create stencils of your favorite photographs. Stencils can then be used to make unique T-shirt, sweatshirt, carry-on bag and jacket designs that will have everyone asking how you did it. Getting the right shading can be a bit of a challenge, but with a little patience creating your own stencil from a photograph is relatively easy.

Save the image you want to use to create your stencil to your hard drive or disk. You can use images uploaded from your personal camera or hard copy photos scanned into the computer.

Open your photo-editing software and pull up the photograph you want to turn into a stencil.

Choose the right image size for the stencil project and adjust the size by choosing "Edit" from the top toolbar menu. Alter by pixels or inches until the photograph is the correct size for your needs.

Remove the color from the photograph by changing it to "greyscale" so it becomes black and white. This will make it easier for you to adjust the contrast and lighting to create clear shadows and highlights for your stencil.

Adjust the contrast and lighting until there are clear definitions between black and white that will easily cut into a stencil. The adjustments you need to make will vary depending on the quality and lighting in the original photograph.

Print the image out and use sharp scissors to cut out the white areas of the photo only. You may need to use a craft knife to cut small areas of the shading in the photograph precisely.

Line the stencil up on your paper or canvas, then paint or color the areas of the stencil you cut out, leaving the black areas unpainted to create shading.