stencil patterns

The Difference Between Single and Multiple Layer Stencils!

When discussing stencil patterns, you need to be familiar with the differences between a single and a multiple layer stencil.

Single Layer (Silhouette) Stencils are complete with only one stencil. I call these Silhouette Stencils because they create an image that appears to be a shadow or silhouette of an object. They do not offer much opportunity to use more than one color.

A single overlay stencil is a complete design on a single sheet. It will have gaps or bridges between the individual elements of the design which emphasize the details of the image. The frog here is from a single layer stencil. Even though he has several different colors his details are not well defined.

Notice the spaces between the elements of his form. These not only define the different parts of the frog they are also there to keep the stencil stable. Each section is designed to make putting paint into the openings (called islands) as easy as possible.

Single Overlay Stencils are the ones we started using early in life. They had letters and numbers and we could make signs with them. They were part of our first arts and crafts projects. But now we find they can be helpful for wall borders, putting logo designs on t-shirts or even decorating a piece of furniture.

For some great ideas on what you can do with them, check out Stenciling. Would you like to see a furniture re-do project using the Frog Stencil? Just click on the links below! Enjoy!

Multiple Layer Stencils

Multiple Layer Stencils consist of more than one stencil (called overlays) and they leave you with a more complete image than a Single Layer Stencil. If you are really trying to get that hand painted look, a Multi-Layer Stencil is a must. They are more work of course but the results are well worth it.

Multiple overlay stencils use two or more sheets to define more detail of a design. The completed image will not have any gaps. The frog below has 5 overlays. Each overlay is for a different color. This frog’s details are well defined.

Aligning Multiple Overlay Stencils

Multiple Overlay Stencils are designed with registration holes which are used to mark your stenciling surface. This allows the correct positioning of each overlay with respect to the previously stenciled area. Registration holes (marks) may be in the form of triangles or circles.

Each stencil overlay will be numbered. Align your first overlay as you would a single overlay stencil in the area to be painted. Tape all the edges. Use a pencil to mark the registration holes (they can be erased or painted over when your project is finished). Hint: To avoid marking the surface, place pieces of low-tack tape on the surface area of the registration holes and place the marks on the tape.

After applying the paint, carefully remove overlay #1. Do any touching up that needs to be done. Allow the paint to dry.

When the paint of overlay #1 is thoroughly dry, put overlay #2 in place and line up with the registration holes. When the overlay is lined up, tape and apply paint.

Continue in this same manner with each overlay until you have a completed picture.

Don’t forget to eliminate the registration marks.

Hopefully this page has helped you become aware of the different stencil patterns available so you can make the best choices for your art projects.

OK! You're just getting started so below I added a few more articles that might help you become the stencil artist you know you can be! Enjoy!

For more on how to achieve a hand painted look, read this article on Stenciling Techniques.

If you want to continue your Stencil Education then click here to go back to How To Stencil.

Happy Stenciling!