Design Your Own Logo and Make a Painting Stencil




About: Called a renaissance man more times than I can count, I am the type of person who believes you can do anything you put your mind to. As a veteran I've seen some awful acts committed, and I guess my wanting t...

Lasers and plotters can be expensive! For most of us we would love to have the use of one, it just really isn't an economical choice for the average home user. So how do I get a professional looking permanent stencil for marketing my logo that I can transfer to anything. Stenciling is a great art art tool and it can take any beginning artist and raise their painting level quickly with professional results. Pre-cut stencils can get expensive building your collection; and often they are the boring same old designs that everyone has. No more do you have to be restricted by the cookie cutter designs out there, with simple easy to use techniques you can design, cut, and paint your personality on anything.

"Custom Made Logo Airbrush Stencils"

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Step 1: Materials and Tools

What you'll learn:
Designing and creating a personal brand, creating a stencil, then transferring it to any medium using paint.

Materials and tools:

Paper (Tracing being the easiest)
Printer or photo copier
Stencil blanks (Hobby Lobby sells them at 10 sheets for just a few bucks)
Hobby knife (like Exacto)
Paint (spray paint, airbrush, etc)
A hard surface to cut stencils on

A little drawing talent is helpful but there are thousands of free designs out there that can be traced and modified to your create your one of a kind logo stencil.

Optional Tools:

Adobe Illustrator (or any of the free tools like , I'm not soliciting or advocating this software just something I Googled for the instructable)
Adobe Photoshop (or open source like

Step 2: The Inspiration, Design, and Mockup

The mockup:

First print or trace up your design's inspiration
Second (freehand) place them either in a viewable position, or (trace) tape them to your design table and cover with tracing paper.
Third draw up your design and shade them in
Fourth (Optional) to refine your design I suggest redrawing with tracing paper sometimes several times to get the perfect creation.

The Inspiration:
For the past few months I've been working on a couple of inventions that I'm planning on marketing. I've been studying many types of marketing and production, what I've learned is the most successful products have a personal brand, something simple and easily recognizable. A logo or brand is not something that should be just thrown together it should be representative of many aspects of the product, the company, and/or the personal mission of the creator.

Creating the design:
Sometimes simply drawing up a design is the best way to trulybuild a one of a kind logo that is entirely yours. In my logo designs I often look out to the internet, personal experience, or just start sketching to see if something develops out of the mind. If you find something you like get pics of it and print them out, alternatively you can trace an outline using various programs like Adobe Illustrator and print out the traces to draw up a custom logo from their inspiration. However you achieve it, the object is to get it down on paper so you can digitize it. Using a vector based logo can be re-used in your upcoming projects and place the image in the minds of those who view your work.

"The design was inspired from an ancient museum helmet I had seen in a visiting Irish armory exhibit and recently had seen reproductions on the internet. Because the actual helmet is a piece of history and out of respect for the craftsmanship of my ancestral country, I left out the actual picture of the helmet from this instructable, though it's not a copyrighted image, I still have respect for the artist"

Step 3: Scan or Photocopy Your Logo

This is probably the most important step of them all because it will determine how your design is used; touching up, colorizing, or just resizing to fit your project.

My suggestion is to scan it to a computer, if you don't have a scanner take it to Kinko's they will scan pics and drawings and put them on a flash drive for you. Getting your design on the computer will allow you to use it in a variety of areas when marketing your logo. However you can always skip digitizing and simply move on the tracing your design to a stencil blank.

Alternatively if your just looking to make a stencil you can reduce or enlarge the size of your design using a basic copy machine to get the exact size you need for your project

I won't get real detailed with how to use illustrator, however needless to say any program with a live trace tool is a hand drawing to digital scanning must for getting a good vector object that can be manipulated easily. Live tracing is a very simple tool that converts a drawing to a vector object that gives a much cleaner and harder edge to your design.

Step 4: Viewing, Printing, and Taping Your Finished Design

Now that we've passed the point of designing your personal image, on to the stencil making!

First step: Look at your finished design and start thinking which pieces of the logo would fall out once the cut begins. This is important to your finished product, there are two ways to complete this task. If your skilled in painting; drawing a few connection lines to those pieces can simplify a stencil cut as you can go back and fill in those lines later during your finish paint. however if this is your first try at the air painting craft; then you'll probably want to make a two part stencils with lining up points to create the pro look.

Second step: Print out the finished product

Third step: Tape a stencil blank to your print out. Another method I've used in the past when I'm out of blanks is to laminate your print outs (however they have a limited life span when painting with rattle can) Tip: Remember if your using a two part stencil it's critical to get your line up points perfect. I will commonly add a few (+) plus signs around the pic when I print the copy twice.

Step 5: The Cut's

Cutting a stencil with an Exacto hobby knife can be challenging, tedious, and time consuming, but without an expensive CNC controlled device it's the best way I've found to get the result's cheaply. Be prepared though to make a couple of passes with the hobby knife. No matter how good you get with your knife, you'll never get the exact pressure need to make precise cuts every time. It's been my experience though you'll get better detail making a couple of passes.

The technique is basic; when cutting apply moderate pressure and instead of trying to only turn your hand (like using a pencil) turn the blank as well. Try to make long stoke cuts trying to avoid stopping or lifting the knife as this creates points you'll need to re-cut during the removal of the pieces.

Note: I've seen quite a few stencil tutorials that tell the beginner to use card stock or paper, and it's a great idea for a one time use (maybe even a couple times). Though the nice thing about stencil blanks is that they are resistant to most thinners and they can be used hundreds of times over and over again. As an added bonus the sturdiness of the blank doesn't lift off the project as easily from the paint blast force (creating that cloudy effect around the edges) that you will get from card stock and wax paper.

Step 6: Now It's Time to Paint

All done; now it's time to apply the new stencil to your project. Once you've made your first painting pass with the stencil fill in and shadow as needed to finish your custom logo design.

I've included the two pics laptops done with this stencil technique. For those interested in that shadow effect under the Warrior logo on the first laptop, it's very easy trick: Just paint the stencil on as gray or black (once dry) then move the stencil and 1/8 of an inch to the right and paint the top color.

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    15 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Hello , thx a lot for the tutorial :)

    as for me, my stencil is more bigger then normal size. Thx to poster printer I've printed my picture.

    as for logo: Adobe Illustrator very helpful at this point :) easy to use...

    thanks you again, LifeWarrior


    3 years ago

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    Hi, How to Get a logo design? See! 21,000+ Logo & Custom Logo: $48 ->

    I like the stencils to give me a base to start from, the fill in the shading. Don't get me wrong freehand is the best for skill learning, but stencils make a more professional look while learning. I just never liked the cookie cutter stencils that are sold, making my own is always more fun.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Any good design program is worth it's weight in gold, That's definitely an interesting program. This i'ble was more a Do It Yourself kind of thing though, I always try to foster sharing a new skill. That being said this might be a good program if your wanting a print to make a very large stencil, Thanks for commenting


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Yeah, that would make a great stencil to tag stuff, I love the "Why so serious?" very cool!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    You can buy at Michaels craft store a tool called a stencil cutter. it's basically a soldering iron or woodburning tool with a special tip that melts through the plastic stencil material. I haven't tried it, but I imagine it would make a nice smooth cut edge. I think they were about $10 or $15

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I'll have to check that out, it could make the stencil cutting faster than with a blade. I've made a ton of stencils in the past and have always done it this way, but that's what I love best about this site you can always find ways to make the DIY skill faster and with more professional results by sharing experiences. I'm actually working on a tools I got from a hospital that exactly resembles an exacto knife that cauterizes surgical incisions, it has a heating element built in but it didn't come with the power source just the pen and the wire as my next step.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    You could also use a service like Ponoko ( to laser cut stencils in a variety of materials. Reasonably inexpensive and very precise.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Very good idea, I think in in a more long term use of the logo I would probably use a service like this to reproduce the design several times. As a DIY'er I like to do most things by hand the first time, also so I can have it right now so I can see what it looks like IRL. There are a lot of i'bles stating the same "slice this up for this amount of money", My attempt was more with just a few bucks in your pocket you can have a reusable stencil right now rather than waiting for it to be shipped. I've been up against this time crunch in the past and these are great in a pinch.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    A caveat. If all you need is a single size logo or piece of artwork then a bitmap program like Photoshop or the GIMP or similar works fine.

    But if you foresee you will need it in various sizes from poster to business card, then using a vector drawing program like Illustrator or Inkscape or a CAD program is a far better choice. You will be able to scale your final result without image degradation and save yourself future headaches.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Good point, Perhaps I should've made that a little clearer, that if someone is going to be re-using the logo for multiple sources then have something vector based is good for resizing as well.

    My attempt was to address not only the logo portion of this i'ble, but also for those just looking to make the stencil that may not have access to certain software due to cost. However my intention was not to discuss or try to teach a software use such as illustrator or general graphics manipulation; it was more to the point of getting it into living form and keeping the i'ble down to a few pages. As you know teaching someone how to fully utilize Illustrator could take quite a few pages and my thought was perhaps that would be better left to another i'ble.