Instructables
A tutorial on making a stencil with an open source program called the GIMP.

I looked on all the Instructs tagged with stencil, and not one gives a step by step for making a stencil in my favorite open source photo program The GIMP.
 
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Step 1: Materials and GIMP

-What You Need-
-printer
-craft knife
-The GIMP
-surface to cut on (self healing mat)
-spray mount (optional)
-spray paint

GIMP is an open source raster based graphics editor. It was designed to replace Photoshop.
You can get it here. gimp.org

Install it, open it up, and familarize yourself with the interface for a bit. Done? Good. Isn't open source great? Didn't cost a dime!

Step 2: Pick an image and open your picture in GIMP

Pick a good simple image (remember: simple equals less cuts) preferably on a white background. This can be hacked by simply erasing around an image in MSPaint or what have you.

I chose a tasteful Stormtrooper sculpture to stencil. Nerdtastic!

Step 3: Crop it

Crop out the parts you want to make a stencil of with the Crop/Resize Tool (Tools>Transform Tools>Crop).

a. GIMP allows you to save a copy in case you want to use the uncropped-unedited image later. Save the copy, then go open the copy in GIMP. (File>Save A Copy)

Step 4: Simplifying the image

We need to simplify the image now. We will do this by Colorify-ing the image. There are two ways of doing this in GIMP.

a.One way is to go to (Tools>Color Tools>Colorize). If you use this method, you will want to set the Hue and Saturation to 0, and adjust the lightness to fit the image (this can be done to taste, generally you want about an even light to dark for a stencil.)

b. The other (and redundant) method is to go to Filters>Colors>Colorify, and select your color (you'll be selecting white).

Both methods are pictured, I chose to use the filter.

Step 5: Tweaking the Contrast and Brightness

Now I'm going to tweak the contrast and brightness a bit. (Tools>Color Tools>Brightness-Contrast) I'm trying to get a hard line on the helmet, the hardest part on this image to keep intact.
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What if I want more layers?

katman1019 months ago

this was very comprehensive, thank you for making this you are a swell individual.

how did you blow up the image?
Threshold doesn't work :/ My image comes out pixelated
skyhawkes3 years ago
My God man!! This is a giant help and I think I love you... just sayin'... and thank you so much for using GIMP. I fell in love with it like 2 years ago but I never knew I could make a stencil with it. That was stupid easy.
JoshuaTerrell (author)  skyhawkes3 years ago
No problem. :)
ilpug3 years ago
Nicely done. i will check out the GIMP. Can it do something that a high-levcel Photoshop program cant? cuz i have one and it works fine.
BkrevWlevqe3 years ago
Thanks a LOT for this i'ble man!
!revenge!4 years ago
hi i have a question about the spray painting itself,
i made a stencil a while ago and i wanted to test it before spraying it to my old guitar. but this is what happened: after testing the stencil, the paint caused the paper to curl up.
do you have any idea how i can prevent this the next time i do this?

greets,

Jelle
ps.
my English may be not very good because i am from the Netherlands and i am 14 years old.
Here's Mine: Just can figure out how to print it.
FullMetalJacketStanleyKu8_fHelmet.jpg
Nice. The other side of the helmet (if this is the one from Full Metal Jacket) would have made for a nice ironic stencil, too.
zs CerealKiller4 years ago
ctrl +p
I don't even print mine. I just use my laptop's LCD screen and I would tape the bond paper on it and just trace on it. That's if you have access to an LCD screen. You also skip the outline and printing part too.
Haha I tend to do the same, I also use a piece of thin transparent plastic in between the paper and the screen. (A4 fits very well on 15,4") Bless!
mhkabir zatla5 years ago
Don't pixels get stuck on the screen?
theRIAA8 years ago
nice! if you are doing a face or something tricky you may want to try out changing the hue or color of the image to greater tune in details when its in B&W (adjustment layers in PS is the only way i know how to do this)

such as:

http://dpchallenge.com/tutorial.php?TUTORIAL_ID=43

(before stencilizing it)
92033 theRIAA4 years ago
3-1/2 Years Later :-) (just discovered this)...THANKS For Posting the URL. GREAT STUFF.
Charles IV4 years ago
Here's mine:
King Crimson Red.jpg
PKTraceur5 years ago
Anyone Guess how long? I did this with ONE very sharp pocket knife, cutting it on top of about 20 more papers. Nearly 2 HOURS. The result was kickin' though!
-RoAr
-Roar
Grr....
Here is what it's based off of...
parkour_logo_500.jpg
w00t! parkour rox!
bvulgarin5 years ago
Very useful, thanks!
soongone5 years ago
Thanks it was easy to understand
slimguy3796 years ago
hello great job... this isn't Really about this instructable but though you could help... I currently have a screen printing business and I'm trying to make a 3 - 6 color shirt.. is there a way to separate each and every color? (using gimp, word, or publisher?) the response would be greatly appreciated...
It's really easy to do just go image>mode>indexed, select the amount of colors (white backround will count as color) you want and click convert.
yeah, you can select each color and separate each one as it's own layer.
robbs5 years ago
I tried to change the color of my stencil using "select by color" but it remained black. What am I doing wrong? Thanks for the input.
ericgay5 years ago
NICE!
fwjs285 years ago
woot!
Tux.png
PKTraceur5 years ago
If it's any help, and your colours are inverted, try colours
runkrocker6 years ago
cool instructable! vey vey helpful. i dont fully know all of what photoshop and gimp can do and this was awesome. i made an invader zim stencil. yay!!!
zim_plotting-full.jpg
GIR!
patycuack7 years ago
what do you think about this one i made minutes ago... first try, i think its not well done..
Pin-up%j20027.jpg
It's quite good if you can actually cut it out...
its good but u need to sure up some lines, smooth it out
JoshuaTerrell (author)  patycuack7 years ago
haha, not bad at all, I'm glad to see evryones getting in the act
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