Introduction: 3D-effect Stencil

Picture of 3D-effect Stencil

Creating a two-color stencil that delivers a 3D perspective. This uses SketchUp and Illustrator.

Step 1: Pop Into 3D

Picture of Pop Into 3D

To start off with, I take a classic videogame image and import it into SketchUp. After that, trace the images to create four polygons. With the push/pull tool, grab the polygons and pull them up to create a solid shape. Double-clicking on the three remaining shapes will repeat the action and bring them up to the same height for consistency.

Step 2: And Back Into 2D

Picture of And Back Into 2D

With the shape existing in 3D form, move the camera around to get an angle that shows off the shape in a dramatic way. Once you have a camera location you love, export a 2D image.

Open up Illustrator and import the resulting image it. Once there, create two layers, one for the shadow and one for the white front. For the shadow layer, outline the entire image. The reason is that when you put white paint on black it pops out more in the final result. It's also a little easier on the alignment. Nothing throws an image more than having the object be separate from the shadow.

After that, outline the white sections and then print one image for each of the two layers. These will become your stencils.

Step 3: Print, Laminate, Cut!

Picture of Print, Laminate, Cut!

This is where the work comes in. After printing out each layer, laminate it. I did this at Office Depot for $1.40 each. I used to have my own laminator, but then a friend walked off with it. It's a long and stupid story.

When you have the sheets all shiny just get out an Xacto knife and get cutting. Use a ruler or do it freehand. Be sure to have plenty of blades on hand since you'll likely need to swap them pretty quickly.

Step 4: Stick It Down

Picture of Stick It Down

Almost time to spray some paint. But first, put a light layer of spray adhesive on the backs of the stencils and let that dry for a few minutes. Now put it on the applied surface and press on it, especially on the edges, to make sure it's down. Put some paper on the side to prevent overspray.

Step 5: Spray!

Picture of Spray!

This is the fun part and likely where you're going to make a mistake. Be sure to shake up the can and spray it onto a scrap piece of paper. You want to be sure that the paint is coming out nice and clean before you start the real work.

When spraying, start and stop the spraying off of the stencil. This will give you a more even coat. Build up some light layers and even take a break or two along the way to let the paint dry before applying more.

Step 6: You're Done! Now Clean Up That Mess.

Picture of You're Done! Now Clean Up That Mess.

Now I admit I got a little sloppy here. I stuck down the second stencil and then got distracted by my kitten running around. After some rustling the stencil came up a bit and I got some underspray when I got back to work. Better luck next time. Click the other image to see a cleaner version.

Nothing to do now but have a beer and move on to the next stencil. Got some more cutting to do, after all.


masmarius (author)2010-03-06

awesome! who doesn't love stencils anyway?

T3h_Muffinator (author)2007-01-25

Woah, that has an awesome effect. Once I finish coating my halfpipe in weatherproofing paint, I'm definitely going to stencil on some kind of kick-ass videogame character.... now, who will it be?

sharlston (author)T3h_Muffinator2009-10-22

tony hawks

fwjs28 (author)T3h_Muffinator2008-12-09

MARIOOOOO!!!or 1 up mushroom, that way when u fall of the pipe and kill urself u have a mushroom with an extra life....

gbosbiker (author)T3h_Muffinator2008-03-22

the ghost character from, i think its from super mario. its a cool character and it would look awesome on a halfpipe

santy22 (author)gbosbiker2008-11-15

some character on a bike or rollers or skate, or maybe PAC-MAN! because pacman rocks and any surface with pacman printed on it will rock too. The same goes for mario and metroid (pixel-y version of them, obiously)

santy22 (author)santy222008-11-20

PD:Just laminated the Space invader (with duct tape) going 2 do it soon

volquete (author)2009-07-10


wenpherd (author)2009-06-02

this is so insanly awesome i cant even look

baneat (author)2008-08-25

Made it, thanks.

baneat (author)baneat2008-08-25

Actually just used the idea of using google sketchup for the 3d part and made it up from there to make it into a stencil.

baneat (author)2008-08-25

Also I think you can use Photoshop instead of Illustrator to do the second part of this guide :)

fungus amungus (author)baneat2008-08-25

Yes, now you can. Illustrator in here is optional, however. You can do the whole thing in SketchUp if you wanted.

emuman4evr (author)2008-08-24

I wonder I could do this with other 3d models...

emuman4evr (author)emuman4evr2008-08-24


baneat (author)2008-08-24

I could swear that's 3D

spinach_dip (author)2006-06-01

Nice. My compliments on your choice of subject. (Also thanks to bugmenot for the login.)

whatsisface (author)spinach_dip2007-10-22

You could've done better than posting that on THIS instructable especially. I believe owned is the correct term.

SacTownSue (author)2007-07-03

looks great! Depending on what type of black paint you used you could try touchup with sharpie. Depending on materials and houw much you care.

Fenwick (author)2007-01-18

wow, this is cool! Great idea! I might have to do this once I get the chance.

erfonz (author)2006-11-27

This is mine. I also used your bridge instructable. I was kinda impatient in spraying it so theres a drip and a bunch of underspray

fungus amungus (author)erfonz2006-11-30

Good stuff. Just looks like you need another coat of white on top to make it more solid. As for the drips and underspray you can have some control of it for a cool effect. Takes some practice to get the controlled slop effect, though.

kennytatheguy (author)2006-10-08

whaoh! when i first loked at that pic i thought it was actually a little block stick man! nice job!!

belenus (author)2006-09-26

couldnt you just use the same stencil, spray it, translate it up (however you want the 3d to look) and spray the topcoat?

fungus amungus (author)belenus2006-09-27

Not at all. That would be a repeating image and could give the impression that the top layer is floating above the surface with the bottom layer acting as a shadow if you were looking at it dead on. Which is a fine effect, but this is different. Here, the 3D program allows the object to have volume. Note how the black layer is displaced further from the bottom than the top. With a touch of practice with perspective you could do the same thing by hand if you wanted to.

dipswitch (author)2006-09-26

This is cool. Now if I could only figure out the getting an image and importing image to SketchUp part it will be even more cool.

fungus amungus (author)dipswitch2006-09-27

I did kind of skim over that part of the instructions, didn't I? If you play around with SketchUp you should be able to see how to import an image and plant it on a flat surface. Now recreate the shape by drawing it in SketchUp with the image as your guide. Then, pull it up and there you go.

pjay_dml (author)2006-09-24

A little shadow (hold can at a distance before applying stencil; apply oval blur) would enhance the effect.

Googlypuffs (author)2006-08-10

this is a great looking turnout, even with the under-spray! it gives it a little urban feel to it

houdini (author)2006-07-11

very nice :) I like this drawing. If you pass by Paris, do one on my door! keep on the good work

barnes (author)2006-06-23

Very cool, I'm gonna try that later.

The 3D effect is pretty strong, considering it's stencil-ness. Good job!

SniperNinja (author)2006-04-11

Cool Im going to have to try that. Is that the LoadRunner sign?

maffiou (author)2006-02-20

Like the idea... Cool...

About This Instructable




Bio: I like to make things for the internets. I also sell a pretty cool calendar at You'll like it.
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