Brainstorm types of mythical creatures and unusual environments

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Things You'll Need

  • Cardstock

  • Craft knife

  • Open a new page in any imaging software such as Adobe Photoshop, Corel Draw or Microsoft Picture It.

  • Set the document size to the measurements you need for the stencil. For example, if you want a full-size stencil sheet, set the document size to 8.5 inches by 11 inches, or "Letter."

  • Create a stencil design on the document. Use the shape tool to create different shapes for your design.

  • Add text to the stencil using the text tool. Alter the font by selecting new styles from the toolbar at the top of the page.

  • Go to "File" and select "Print." Follow the on-screen directions to print the stencil onto solid colored cardstock.

  • Use a craft knife to cut the stencil out of the card stock. Be sure to cut out any inner parts of the stencil before beginning the outline.

Tony Albert, exotic OTHER, 2009, vintage ephemera and vinyl (with Jonathon Jones, untitled [heads or tails], 2009 in foreground), Photo: Andrew Curtis.

Daniel Boyd, No Ordinary Love, 2008, oil on canvas. Photo: Andrew Curtis.

LG: Do you see a common thread that links these works together—maybe a sense of agency? Perhaps it’s about the artist’s sense of agency in their attempts to remember history?

SG: I think it’s really important to revisit history and pose questions about the past. These questions really help us to explain our present and think about how we can better address the future. I certainly don’t, and the artists don’t, have the keys to the kingdom. But at least they are giving the gates a good rattle and I think that’s really important. When you have an opportunity to say something, you need to use that opportunity really well and say something that is meaningful and that is your own truth.

LG: On a much broader note, in this post-apology social and cultural landscape, do you think that real reconciliation will ever occur?

SG: I guess the first thing is that you just want to will it to succeed and not fail, so you have to believe that it can happen. And I do believe that it happens on a micro-level everyday in Australia. The more that this happens, the more it breeds its own forms of reconciliation and therefore, guarantees its success. We are not all going to come down on the same side, but thinking about these issues and talking about them is how things are actually going to change.

I think that the national apology was a great statement as it brought long-stagnant issues to the surface and I’m all for that.


1. Stephen Gilchrist, OCTOPUS 9: I FORGET TO FORGET, exhibition catalogue (Melbourne: Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces, 2009), 15
2. This debate refers to a work by Michelle Ussher and Helen Johnson that was withdrawn from the Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces project room space at the Melbourne Art Fair in 2006. It was claimed by another artist that the installation 
The only thing you taught me was the only thing you know (2006) had contravened protocols with regard to the representation of Aboriginal people. The subsequent debate that ensued brought to light important questions regarding the use of imagery, the representation of Aboriginal people, appropriation and censorship by both white and black Australian artists.


Think about your overall design plans. Consider what the stencil is to be used for--say, a small decoration on a box or a pattern for use on your walls. How will your use of the stencil influence the design you can use? Here are a few specific points to consider:

  • Don't use paper. Determine what size of stencil you need. If the stencil is going to be large, it is okay to include small details. If the stencil is going to be small, a simpler design should be used.

  • Know how many colors you want to include in the stenciled image. You can use multiple stencils and each will be used with its own layer of color. These factors will affect the amount of materials you need and the number of stencils you need to create.


  • Draw an initial sketch of the image (if applicable). At this point, you are only trying to develop the image that will become the stencil. You can experiment with patterns or attempt to hone a design that you had intended from the start.


Choose the type of stencil material you want to use. There are a variety of materials that are suitable as stencils, but you need to consider how much use the stencil will have (one time or many?) and the ease with which you can work with the material.

  • Cardboard or foam board are good for large, simple stencils on flat surfaces.

  • Paper works for a single-use stencil on either flat or rounded surfaces.

  • Poster board holds up better than paper and can be used on flat or slightly rounded surfaces.

  • Plastic or clear acetate are good if creating reusable stencils for either flat or rounded surfaces.

  • Frisket film, which is a clear film with a slightly sticky backing, is good for flat and rounded surfaces.


Create the final image with clean lines and good contrast. The image must be clear in order to make it easy to cut out.[1]

  • If you are drawing your own image, clearly outline the areas of the image that will be cut out for the stencil. Remember that you need to define the edges and the details of your image, or the stencil will not portray your original drawing.

  • If you are using a photograph or an online image, you need to use a software program that can adjust the contrast and brightness of your image so that you have defined dark and light areas. It will probably be easiest to switch the image into purely black and white.[2]

  • Make sure that your current design will work as a stencil. If you are attempting to create a complex image with textures or shadows, make sure that you design does not force you to cut whole sections out of the stencil. Alter the image so that the stencil will remain as a single piece.[3]

  • Photo images also work best if you erase the backgrounds first. This may be the most time-consuming portion of the process.[4]


  • Print out the final image on a regular piece of computer paper (if applicable).After the image has been printed, it may be a good idea to outline any areas areas in which the contrast remains ill-defined. You must have a clear image to cut out for the stencil.


Attach the paper with the stencil image to the stencil material. There are a number of ways in which you can attach the paper:

  • Tape it in place using masking tape or clear adhesive tape. Make sure to have some tape near the edges, but it may also be useful to stabilize the paper by taping down sections in the middle.

  • Alternately, you can attach it with spray adhesive. Simply spray the stencil material and then carefully place the paper over the top of it.

  • You can also transfer the image to the stencil material using tracing paper. This will work best if the stencil material is cardboard or poster board.


  • Cut out the areas of your image where you want the paint to appear. Using a sharp utility knife, delicately cut out the unneeded portions of the stencil. If your design will have more than one color, you must create different stencils for each color.


Attach the stencil to your painting surface. It is absolutely vital that the stencil is lying flat on the surface when you begin to spay the paint. If any portion if elevated, paint can get underneath and make the design unrecognizable. There are a number of methods that can be employed, including the following:

  • Tape works well for simple stencils. Complex stencils with a great deal of detail may be more difficult to hold in place with tape.

  • A temporary adhesive sprays are available at craft stores. They are perfect for more detailed stencils because they can help every part stick closely to the surface that is to be painted.

  • If the stencil material is frisket film, simply remove the backing and stick it to the painting surface.


Apply the spray paint. Do not apply the paint so thickly that it pools or puddles. That much paint is likely to get underneath the stencil. Instead, keep the application process fast, and do not concentrate the nozzle on a single point for too long.


Remove the stencil and inspect your work. It is common for some paint to get past the edge of the stencil (no matter how hard you try), and so you may want to check to see how the design appears. You may want to apply some touch-up paint to areas that are not well covered.

  • It can be a good idea to try the stencil on a test surface before using it for real. You can get a sense of how the image looks, and you can also see if paint crept in past the edges of the stencil and so secure it more appropriately when you will use it on the intended surface.

  • 1- Cardboard pieces;

  • 2- Razor rather than a scissor (will be explained further);

  • 3- Pencil, eraser and a little notebook;

  • 4- Rulers;

  • 5- A black and white printer;

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