Making Street Art/Grafitti Stencils

Chalk stencil

That’s me! Pretty sweet, right? You won’t believe how easy this was.

Start with a photograph. Preferably one with a plain white background.

My face

Open it in Photoshop. Go to Image > Adjustments > Threshold.


Then move the arrow left or right to get the effect you want. If it looks kind of wonky, try a different picture. Some work better than others.

screenshot 2

Now for a brief stencil lesson. When you cut out a picture to create a stencil, you need something called “bridges”. Anywhere you see enclosed white areas, or “islands,” you need to open them up to stay connected to the rest of the stencil. Otherwise, when you cut the islands, they will fall off.





Use the brush tool to make your bridges.

Screenshot 3

Now print it, glue it to something sturdy, like cardstock or a manila folder, and cut the black sections out with an x-acto knife. Be careful to not cut your bridges.

Of course I didn’t think to take a picture of my face stencil before I destroyed it. Here’s what the mushroom looked like:


That’s it! You’re ready to spray!

I used chalk spray from Abrivo Sports. These stencils held up for 2 or 3 sprays. If you want a reusable stencil, I suggest cutting it out of acetate instead.

I actually did this with a group of high school students. None of them were interested in making a stencil of their faces, naturally. Here are some of their results:

2013-04-22 10.58.57

2013-04-22 10.56.21

2013-04-22 10.56.53

2013-04-22 10.57.50



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