Thursday, March 7, 2013

Digital Stenciling With a Twist

Happy Thursday! Ron here with another digital tutorial. We're gonna look at digital stenciling again, but this time with a little twist!

Before we get started, I have to share how this blog post came to be…

A few weeks ago, I blogged about how to create a stencil effect digitally. If you'd like a refresher, click HERE.

Shortly after that blog entry, Winter PSL started and the second week challenge was to use stencils. During that challenge, CS Member Melissa (sarala557), posted a message to her PSL "Pixels" digital team about how she thought of using the digital stencil technique in reverse and posted a couple of cool samples. It just so happened that during that same week, I was thinking about that same thing one morning on my drive to work. Yeah, my mind wanders a bit on my drive and I often come up with some crafting ideas! I told Melissa that I was planning on blogging about this, and here we are!

Here's one of Melissa's layouts showing the reverse technique:

To recap digital stenciling, all you do is drag a stencil or stamp onto your canvas, command or ctrl+click on the thumbnail of the stamp/stencil layer to select it with marching ants, hide the layer, create a new layer and then 'paint' with a fuzzy brush inside the stencil/stamp area, changing colors and varying opacity as you will to get the desired effect.

To reverse stencil, just add 1 step - AFTER you create the new layer, but BEFORE you start to paint, choose 'Inverse' from the Select menu (Shift-CTRL-I in Windows, Shift-Command-I on a Mac) - this will select everything except the stamp/stencil image.

When you paint, you're coloring the background and leaving the image untouched. This can create some really cool looks. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started:

For this first one, I used a stencil file from Artifacts and used a spatter brush in a fairly large size in 4 or 5 different colors at a very low opacity (39%):

Then I decided to turn the stencil layer white, add a little inner shadow for depth, layered it on black and one of the Jubilee backgrounds, add a sentiment stamp and came up with a digital birthday card in about 15 minutes!

In this next sample, I used a Wildflowers background, added 3 stamp images, merged the stamps into a single layer and reverse stenciled in white at 29% opacity using a huge (2500 pixel) chalk brush. This took less than 10 minutes to make.

And for more ideas, check out Melissa's forum post HERE.

Okay, enough inspiration - now go create some wonderful digital stencil art of your own!


  1. Wow, Ron, Thanks for the shout out. Your examples are MUCH cooler than mine! Beautiful work, as always.

    1. Melissa, first of all, I really love the look that you got in your layout I posted - looks very 'watercolor-y' behind the white doorway frame. Secondly, the more you play, the more chances you're willing to take and can achieve some really cool looks!

  2. Terrific lesson on this great looking technique! Great minds think alike Melissa and Ron!!

  3. Thanks for the instructions Ron!!

  4. Thank you for another great tut! Love the examples.

  5. Awesome Ron and thanks to Melissa


  6. Gosh, Ron...I always learn so much from you. Now I just have to set aside time to practice these awesome techniques. Thanks for sharing!


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