Shading with stencils

How to create a beautiful shaded effect using stencils.

painting a stencil, shading technique step by step stenciling tutorial


simple hibiscus stencil shaded from the stencil studio

Simple Hibiscus Stencil from The Stencil Studio

Start with a simple design. This technique involves building up layers of colour and concentrating the paint around the very edges of each cut out area. We’ve chosen The Stencil Studio’s Simple Hibiscus stencil as it features large paintable areas. This method is a little time consuming so it’s possibly not an ideal for painting an allover pattern or large room. This is, however, a great way of adding depth and interest to your stenciling for smaller projects, furniture, fabric stenciling and if you have the time (and patience) walls.


Paint a beautiful shaded effect with your stencils. Using The Stencil Studio's Simple Hibiscus Stencil see how to use paints to shade a stencil.

Here we’ve applied the stencil to a piece of furniture. See how the inner parts of each stenciled area are lighter in colour than the edges.


Choose which sort of paint you are going to use. For furniture and walls with a matt finish oil-based paintsticks and water-based acrylics work well. You will also need good quality soft stencil brushes, ideally one brush for each colour. For this pink Hibiscus just one brush will be necessary. The size of brush will depend on the size of the stencil, you’ll need the brush to be large enough to get a fair coverage of paint across the stencil but small enough to work within the smaller details of each cut out area. We’ve explained the method for both types of paint below. You can find brushes in our Supplies Category
here, we don’t stock paints but a search for stencil paints or Paintsticks should help.

stenciling techniques, shading, using stencils from the stencil studio
 Position the stencil and fix with tape or spraymount.        Painting the first layer of colour.

Position the stencil and fix with spray adhesive (spray the back of the stencil and leave to dry, this will give a tackiness similar to a ‘post-it’ note) or use pieces of stencil tape at the edges. This is important as you don’t want the stencil to move whilst you’re painting it. You can find stencil tape in our Supplies Category
here.

building up colour layers using paints and stencils from the stencil studio
Building up the colour around the edges only.              Removing the stencil.

Concentrate the colour around the cut edges only, ignoring the central parts of each cut out area. Try to blend the paint so there is a gradual change, getting darker towards the edges of the stencil. Keep adding colour to the edges only until you have the desired colour. Don’t worry about the central areas being lighter, as long as you have applied paint to all the cut edges of the stencil your design will show.


stenciling using a shaded effect from the stencil studio
 The finished stencil.                          Reposition the stencil and start again!

Stenciling method for oil-based paintsticks

  • Cut a thin slice off the end of the paintstick to reveal the softer paint beneath.
  • Take a stencil brush and dab the brush onto the end of the paint, pick up enough paint to lightly coat the end of the brush.
  • Swirl the brush firmly onto a paper towel or plate, this will evenly distribute the paint into the bristles and remove excess from the brush.
  • This is called the ‘Dry Brush Technique’ as there will be very little paint on the brush.
  • Keep the brush at a 90 degree angle to the stencil to avoid getting paint beneath the stencil.
  • Use a swirling motion and start to apply paint to the stencil, concentrate the paint around the cut edges only, leaving the central parts of each cut area with very little paint.
  • Press the brush firmly to use all paint, only add more paint when absolutely necessary.
  • Add a second layer of paint, blending into the previous layer and adding more colour to the cut edges only,  keep building colour until you have the effect you want. Remove the stencil.
  • Paintsticks have a longer drying time than water based paints so it’s easy to blend the colours together and get really nice soft effects.
  • Paintsticks have a translucent quality which makes them ideal for this technique.
  • Paintstick will take longer to dry so take care not to smudge of knock your painting, protect further with a layer of varnish if you like.
  • Wash your brushes with white spirit or turps, then rinse with warm soapy water, ensure brushes are dry before further use.


Stenciling method for water-based acrylic paints.

  • Choose thick paint for this technique. Artists acrylic paints or paints developed especially for stenciling are best.
  • Pour or spoon out a little paint onto a plate or scrap of card, take a tiny amount of paint onto the end of the brush.
  • Swirl the brush onto a clean part of the plate or card, this will distribute the paint and remove excess from the brush.
  • Keep the brush at a 90 degree angle to the stencil whilst painting to avoid getting paint beneath the stencil.
  • Using an up and down or stabbing motion, start to apply paint to the stencil.
  • Concentrating the colour around the cut edges of the stencil only, blend the paint so that the colour is lighter or there is no colour in the central parts of each cut out area.
  • Only add more paint to the brush when absolutely necessary, it’s important to work with an almost dry brush blending the colour away from the cut edges.
  • Keep adding colour to the cut edges until you have the effect you want. Remove the stencil.
  • You could also lighten your chosen shade with a little white paint and use the lighter colour for general coverage, adding the darker tone to the cut edges of the design, this would work well if you were stenciling onto a darker colour.
  • Wash your stencil and brushes with warm water, ensure stencil brushes are completely dry before use.



simple hibiscus stencil from the stencil studio

Stenciled chest of drawers for a nursery or childs room.
Where would you like to go now?

Home Page. Back to Tutorials. Buy stencils. See Simple Hibiscus Stencil. See Galleries.