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Beginners Guide: Stencilling

Stencilling is an accessible craft technique that’s so simple to master.

You can use a stencil with so many mediums to add an artistic and unique background, pattern or centrepiece to your art and craft projects.

And you don’t need any crafting experience to get started straight away. So, here’s a handy guide to get you started in stencilling.

What is stencilling?

Stencilling is the art of creating images or patterns by applying ink or paint to a surface through a cut-out design.

You can add a stencilled design to paper, card, fabric, mount board, stone, and wood, the possibilities are nearly endless!

In papercraft, stencilling is a great way to create a colourful and dimensional background, or a gorgeously detailed design to your greetings cards and crafts.

How to use a stencil

Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating precise, smudge-free, stencilled designs:

  • Place your card down on a flat surface. Use a craft mat or 13” x 19” Glass Cutting Mat to protect your work surface.
  • Lay it on top of your card where you would like the image to be positioned
  • Fix your stencil in place with Low Tack Tape. This tape doesn’t have a permanent bond so you can peel it off easily afterwards.
  • Choose your colouring medium and your colour and apply it to the open spaces in the stencil.
  • Wait a few minutes for the paint or ink to dry. Wet paint or ink around the edge can drip when lifting off the stencil creating smudges and smears.
  • Carefully peel off the tape and remove the stencil to reveal your finished design

Tips and Tricks

  • To keep an area of your card blank, cover it with a piece of scrap paper and fix in place with low tack tape
  • To avoid messy edges, use a thin layer of your colouring medium
  • For inkpads we recommend using an Ink Dauber or Mini Blending Sponge, and applying the ink using small circular motions
  • If you’re using a brush it’s a good idea to offload your brush each time before applying a layer of colour. This means, each time you dip your paint into your pot of colour – remove the excess onto a rag or paper towel so you’re only applying a little to your stencil at a time

Stencilling Tools

White stamping card is a sturdy and versatile medium to work with, and you can cut it down to whichever size and shape suits your project.

Here’s a rundown of some key tools you’ll need to get started in stencilling.

Stencil Types 

Crafter’s Companion has a varied range of plastic stencils that are durable and ready to be used again and again.

  • Large Stencils – Measuring 11.75” x 11.75” these stencils are perfect for scrapbook projects as they will fill the whole page with a beautiful pattern. You can also choose to use a section of the stencil for smaller details
  • Alphabet & Number Stencils  – Personalize your projects with a message, monogram, or special date.
  • Background stencils –  Specially designed to create beautiful background patterns – perfect for cardmaking, or creating stunning scrapbook pages
  • Layering Stencils  –  Each set includes three stencils to combine and create a patterned background plus a stunning layered image. You can mix and match the stencils, use the background pattern on its own or create a stand-alone image with no background.
  • 3D Folders & Stencils –  Create a stunning raised and embossed image then add colour using a corresponding stencil to create a fantastic 3D effect, full of depth and dimension.

Colouring Mediums

Whether you use an inkpad, marker or liquid ink – each medium will create a unique look.

Here are some of the stencilled effects you can create using different colouring materials:

Opaque Pigment Inkpads

Harmony Opaque Pigment Inkpads from Spectrum Noir are perfect for creating stencil art on card and paper.

Their slow-drying ‘sticky’ ink produces bold and vivid colours. And it also offers time for you to experiment with different techniques such as heat-embossing to give your design a shining enamel-like finish. Apply using a dauber, blending sponge or blender tool.



Water Reactive Inkpads

Spectrum Noir Water Reactive Inkpads are designed to be used with water to produce blended and watercolour effects. Blend colours and brush over your stencil for unique and artistic look. Apply using a dauber, blending sponge or blender tool.

Liquid Inks

Spectrum Noir’s wide range of AquaTint, Metallic and Sparkle inks can be used in a range of ways.

Apply with a brush for a bold pop of colour, spritz, flick or blend with water to experiment different effects.

Alcohol Markers

Add vivid and precise colour to your stencilled design with Spectrum Noir Classique Markers.

Each pen is dual-ended, so you can swap between a bullet tip for fine details and a chisel tip for bolder swipes of colour

Different Stencilling Techniques

  • Heat emboss with Opaque Pigment Inkpads. Cover the inked areas with Clear Embossing Powder and dry with a heat gun to create a glazed, enamelled effect.
  • Use Texture Paste to create a raised and textured look. Mix paint or ink into a small amount of texture paste and use a palette knife to smooth it over the stencil
  • Layer up colours using inkpads. Lightly layer a darker colour onto the edges of your stencilled image to add shade and dimension
  • Use a brush to spritz and flick ink to create a distressed effect.