Login
Password

Forgot your password?

Word Art Stencils

By Edited Sep 26, 2015 4 8

Personalized mug

More than ever before, creative people are finding tools to help them make custom stencils for messages, phrases, or simple one word statements to express their thoughts and their personality.  At stores like Joann's and Michael's aisles of merchandise are devoted to just this craft.  The words are applied to projects using a brush, a sponge applicator, or airbrush.   The finished art can be applied to coffee mugs, tee shirts, baby bibs, walls, wood plaques, greeting cards, and a variety of other projects.   The finished messages can also be used extensively in scrapbooking and other paper crafts.  Gifts personalized with someone’s name, their special event, or a quote that is meaningful to them, can have a huge impact.  Besides being a special treat for the recipient it’s also a way for the giver to share their creativity.

A web search will immediately reveal many sites offering word stencils in various sizes and styles.  You can even find sites that will make them to your specifications.  These one-of-a-kind products are generally pricey because they are not mass-produced so the cost may not be practical if the item is intended for only one project or a single event.  One time use may be the best argument for coming up with your own creations.  But you might take on the project simply because you have a favorite font and you know it will be ideal for the message you want to create.

Your Own Creations

With or without a specific font in mind simple preliminary messages for your print out can easily be created in word processing programs like Microsoft Word, where you will have the option of changing the font size, line spacing, or applying bold and italic effects. 

Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and programs like them offer far more options for creativity.  The spacing between each letter can be adjusted so they can be overlapped or spaced further apart than normal.  You can work with individual letters or whole words and apply effects like stretching, arching, adding perspective, curving, twisting, distorting and manipulating the selected letters in many more ways than time may allow you to explore.   

It might seem that once your message is created and printed out, the rest is a pretty straightforward job.  But in fact, it requires thorough planning before the cutting begins.  And it all has to do with the font style. 

Font Styles

Look at the example below bearing in mind that white represents the stencil and the blue represents a sheet under it.

 

Arial Font(45759)

If you were to cut out the word Arial, which is one of the most popular fonts used for Internet websites, you would end up with this result.

 

Arial result

The interiors of letters are cut away with the letter outlines making an incomplete image. 

Fonts that help you avoid this problem are often times ornate or unusual in some way with letters that are open, allowing the interiors to remain connected to the overall page. You may find fonts like "Curlz" below would involve more cutting time than you would like to devote.  But here are four examples of fonts that eliminate the problem.

  Portago ITC

Portago ITC

Curlz MT

Curlz MT

Braggadocio

Braggadocia

Stencil

 

Stencil

You’ll also find many fonts that incorporate both open and closed letters.  Bickley Script is a good example.

Bickley Script

Note that the letters “a”, “o” “p”, and “d” are open but the ascending loop of the “d” is closed.  This open/closed combination clearly demonstrates the planning necessary when cutting fonts.  Whether you're working with a script font or not, creating usable pages involves finding a way to prevent the interior of letters from dropping out in the cutting process.  You can search and find fonts that adapt well to the art you are creating and maybe fit your particular project.  But if you want to try working with fonts you have available, here are some solutions. 

Manual Placement

A simple way to cut fonts when using a craft knife, card stock and adhesive spray is to first spray the back of the printed page with adhesive.  Flip the page over and cut out the lettering without lifting it from the work area.  Use a pen to number the interiors of the letters.  Doing this will help you identify the top and bottom and front and back of the die cut pieces once they are removed.  Now transfer the page and the die cut pieces to the project.  Replace the die cut pieces to their original position. 

If you use freezer paper rather than card stock, you can still use this method.  Instead of spraying adhesive, you will be ironing the shapes into place.

Building Bridges

Another solution for interiors that drop out is to manually create a bridge to connect the letter’s interior to the rest of the page.   This is done most often when you are working with plastic or mylar.  You can create fonts with bridges in a computer program like Photoshop using a white pen or brush.  A bridge can also be made manually with a marker after the message is printed out.  This may require a lot of patience if the lettering is very small.  For crafters using a digital cutting machine, the bridges can be created within your machine software.  Keep in mind that wide bridges may distort the letters, making them difficult to read.  The size of the bridge should be narrow enough to maintain the integrity of each letter. The bridge should also follow the font’s natural slant, which is generally to the right in script fonts.

 

white bridge

Image Bridge

Sometimes a small image can be used in place of a plain bridge.  This works best when the message contains one or two words with few letters and when the image complements the topic.

 

image bridge

If you would like a larger font collection than you currently own, you can download free fonts for Mac or PC at several websites like fonts101 and font-styles.   Some of the specialty font categories include:

 

3D

Animal

Arabic

Architecture

Army

Asian

Bitmap/Pixel

Brush

Bubble

Calligraphy

Celtic

Cheltenhem

Christmas

Comic

Computer

Cool

Creepy

Curly

Cute

Dauphin

Decorative

Della Robbia

Dingats

Distorted

Dotted

Elvish

Famous

Fancy

Fire

Futura

Golden Web

Gothic

Graffiti

Greek/Roman

Groovy

Gulliver

Handwriting

Headline

Halloween

Italic

Kids

LCD

Medieval

Mexican

Modern

Movie

Music

Old English

Old School

Outline

Patriotic

Ransom

Retro

Rock/Stone

Rounded

Russian

Sci Fi

Script

Serpentine

Shadow

Sports

Square

Stamped

Stencil

Tattoo

Typewriter

Wedding

Western

See The Kinds Of Projects You Can Create With Stencils

Advertisement
Advertisement

Comments

Apr 12, 2011 4:12pm
footloose
Thumbs up from me. Very useful and clear directions. Thanks for the refreshing article.
Apr 12, 2011 6:29pm
Deborah-Diane
Fascinating article that clearly explains a simple way to make your own stencils! How much fun the readers will have making their own Father's Day Gifts, Mother's Day gifts, birthday gifts, etc. Great ideas!
Apr 12, 2011 9:48pm
Introspective
Love the Curlz MT font!
Apr 13, 2011 4:03pm
divaonline
You should see the rest of the alphabet, it's very cool!
Apr 16, 2011 7:01pm
aguy
Really good info here. I've been experimenting with a computer controlled laser cutter and a computer controlled vinyl cutter. You can do some amazing things.
Apr 17, 2011 7:36pm
divaonline
Thanks! You're lucky to have those very helpful tools! I'm using the Silhouette SD digital stencil cutter and can transfer anything I see on my computer screen to the machine to cut. You said it - amazing!
Apr 26, 2011 3:36pm
SharonWatterson
Great instructions for word stencils in just about any application, as usual, wonderful teaching of DIY!
Apr 29, 2011 5:16pm
Lynsuz
Great word stencil info. Very useful, I like the idea of personalizing gifts.
Add a new comment - No HTML
You must be logged in and verified to post a comment. Please log in or sign up to comment.

Explore InfoBarrel

Auto Business & Money Entertainment Environment Health History Home & Garden InfoBarrel University Lifestyle Sports Technology Travel & Places
© Copyright 2008 - 2016 by Hinzie Media Inc. Terms of Service Privacy Policy XML Sitemap

Follow IB Entertainment