If you are going to draw with Illustrator, download our template here . The maximum dimensions and colors have already been set so that you can get started right away. As always, you can draw up to the maximum plate size (1200x600mm for most materials).
Using blue lines, draw the shapes that will form cuts to create your stencil, and also draw a box around the shapes to indicate the outer edge of the stencil. If you want to make more than one stencil, you can merge the drawings until the plate is full.
Adhere to the following standards for the final drawing:
- Set all line widths to 0.2mm. The line thickness you set has no influence on the cutting width, but simulates in your drawing how wide the cutting will be and what level of detail is still achievable.
- Turn off all tessellation and turn on the line colors. The lines in your drawing become paths for our cutting machines.
- Cutting character color = blue (RGB 0.0.255)
- Character color for engraving = red (RGB 255.0.0)
- Do not create new Artboards in the Illustrator file, only the first Artboard is read and executed. (So you create a separate file for each plate.)
- If you need the outer shape and you want a neat edge, create a blue frame around the file so that it can be cut, because our plates are usually sawn to oversize.
- When saving the file, always make sure that 'Create PDF Compatible File' is checked.
First we're going to make a stencil from a fingertip. We want to be able to paint the black part later.
Draw shapes, for example by using a stroke and giving it a certain thickness. We do this for the edge of the finger. You can also draw areas, such as for the nail. You can turn on the tessellation to get an idea of the overall shape. Once you are happy with the shape you can convert it to cutting paths along the perimeter. First we convert the stroke (outer edge of the finger) into outlines.
You do this via Object > Path > Outline Stroke.
The middle line disappears and an outline around the thick line appears in its place. Because the tessellation is still on, everything remains the same.
Now we have two planes; the shape of finger and nail. We still have to merge them.
You can merge shapes with the Pathfinder.
Select both objects and choose:
Pathfinder > Unite.
The Pathfiner menu can be found under Window.
The two shapes are now merged and there is one closed outline.
If you now turn off the area fill & set the line width to 0.2mm blue, you will have a cuttable file.
Add shapes as desired until your stencil is complete.
Add a frame and see if you can upload this file to our web app!
The above drawing cut out in MDF 2mm (right) & the spray painted image (left).
Letters and text follow a similar process; draw and then convert to outlines.
Choose a suitable font; for stencils, simple letters with wide strokes are best. Most letters have inner whites that fall loose without bridges after cutting.
There are many (free) stencil fonts that already have solutions for this, but you can also make bridges yourself (see below).
Here we start with a letter without a bridge. Set the dimension to the right size and convert the letter to lines.
Type > Create Outlines.
Tip: The context menu (right-clicking on the text) also contains the option 'create outlines'.
You can see from the selection points that the shape now consists of vector lines.
The next step is to connect the inner white to the rest of the stencil with a bridge.
Draw a shape for the bridge; Here we use a rectangle, but a "stroke" is also possible.
Make sure the bridge is wide enough; 2mm or more is safe for small shapes, but large surfaces need more or wider bridges.
Now select the letter and the rectangle & choose 'Trim' from the Pathfinder menu.
Illustrator cuts the rectangle from the letter.
Window > Pathfinder > Trim
The pathfinder does not know which shape you need and has made three shapes: the letter with the cut-out bridge, the loose inner white & the loose bridge.
The last two are not necessary and should be removed.
To check whether everything that is not needed is gone, you can select everything and give it a fill color.
Here you can see the inner piece turning red; that still needs to be removed.
Turn off the area fills & the line width to 0.2mm blue. What remains are the outer lines that will serve as cutting lines. Add a frame if necessary and try again to see if you can upload this file to our web app!
With more complex shapes, it is important to pay attention that everything is connected.
Don't be too sparing with bridges and don't make them too narrow.
The more bridges / tabs you add to your drawing, the better the whole thing will stay together.
Moreover, the whole thing is also a lot sturdier and therefore easier to use if you want to hang the spray stencil on a wall, for example.
View our materials overview for a number of affordable materials that are suitable for this application!
Below you see an example of a drawing with little white space (left) & one with more white space (right).