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Create One-of-a-Kind Backgrounds with Layering Stencils

Create One-of-a-Kind Backgrounds with Layering Stencils main article image
Posted on July 18, 2021 by Jan Hunter

Setting up your stencil for success is a key factor in creating unique backgrounds that can be used for multiple purposes in your creative world.

The original image shown above is from Stencils & Patterns 3 by Our Design Space. The collection has several designs that are great for using with mixed media, layering, and other creative endeavors.

Be aware that your cutting machine is going to cut it as designed, but a multi-use silkscreen stencil can be transformed in multiple ways including use as a multi-step design. Today, we’re going to do a reverse image to provide a little more flexibility in using the stencil.

Additional Supplies:

  • Computer
  • SCAL 5 (Pro)
  • IkonArt Stencil Kit
  • Tombow Markers
  • eBrush (Craftwell USA), TB adapter
  • Paper (cardstock, scraps, prints)
  • Printer

Let’s get started!

Purchase. Download. Extract the files from the zipped folder. Open your software. SCAL 5 Pro was used since both editing and printing can be done directly from the software. Choose the file you want to use. In this case, the SVG labeled 6 was used.

When you import the SVG file, the image is shown in black and white. When creating a silkscreen stencil, remember that the areas that are black will be the areas that wash away in your silkscreen. The image on the left is the original image from the collection. We need to adjust the image a bit for the best use. Compare the two images.

The image on the left will print the waves between the rows of leaves and the lines in the leaves. The image on the right will print the leaves. Both stencils will be used in the projects shared below.

To create a stencil where most of the leaf details would be available, the black in the original image needs to be reversed. A really easy way to do this is to do the following:

1.  Open the library, select the square, the same size as the image.
2.  Arrange the square behind the image (layer to bottom).
3.  Fill the square with black. You may not be able to see the top layer – however….
4.  Select the top layer in the Layers Panel and choose the color palette, change the color to white. You should be able to see the leaf pattern of the original image now.
5.  If needed, select all and center the two layers to each other. (Select, center vertical, center horizontal with To Selection picked).
6. Highlight both images and select Object in the toolbar and group.


Both the original and the altered image are now ready to print. Make sure that your page setup is set to the proper paper size. The printer used in this project allows a selection of materials including paper size (US Letter, material – Premium Plus is chosen and the printer default is set to US Letter) in the SCAL software, select print (make sure that the paper size is correct. Black and White should be selected for best results, and, in this case, the rear tray is selected, photo paper is selected and best quality (see image below).

Click print after putting the transparency (specific to your printer – laser or inkjet) in the tray. Once printed, let dry for a few minutes before cutting into separate images as shown below.

Following the directions in the IkonArt Stencil kit or the article found here, expose the images on the stencil film. Rinse, dry, and post expose.

Your images should wash out close to these. Remember the areas that are now white will be the areas that you will fill with color.

Now the real fun begins!

Let’s use the stencils you’ve just created!

For these projects, a print of a previously made Gelli Plate print is used as the base for the next layers of this print.

Color is added using the eBrush (a marker airbrush system from Craftwell USA). Alcohol, watercolor, or paint markers can be used to add additional layers with the eBrush as demonstrated in this video.

Video using eBrush 

Tombow markers were used to create this stenciled addition to the printed background.

To finish this project as a card, add a layer of black cardstock directly under the print. Adhere to the card base and apply a bit of Deco Art’s Emerald Green Metallic Lustre to all three edges of paper on the card front.

Adding another layer of stenciling using the stencil made with the original image adds more interest to the same print. Just a light touch with the markers using the second stencil adds another layer of dimension and interest. Turning the image to portrait also creates another option for the flow of the color in this example.

Choose a single leaf for a small notecard, Artist’s Trading Card, or tag – – another great way to use some of the scrap cardstock you may have in your studio. This piece is also made using a Gelli print, the stencil, and the eBrush with Tombow markers.

Clean the stencils after use. You can pre-soak in warm water for ease in removing the excess color. Allow to dry between uses. Some color may remain on the stencil… that’s okay.

While these projects were completed using paper, you’re not limited just to paper. Stencil fabric for other uses such as napkins, tablecloths, table runners, pillows, pillowcases, shoes, scarves, etc. Application is limitless.

We hope you have been inspired by seeing multi-use stencils in a new light and will be creating your own for use in your studio or creative space. If this inspires you to create your own project, please be sure to share.

For more inspiration, visit Jan’s page on The Artistry or stop by her blog.

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