Stencil art is something we all are familiar with. It makes a simple statement, for graffiti art like Banksy’s work, a child’s craft, propaganda and so much more. In this post I will show you how to quickly make a stencil like effect in Photoshop.
First you will need an image you want to have a stencil of. Most common subjects are of people, but you can do animals and other objects as well.
Firstly you will need to open up the file you want to create a stencil out of. Open your file in Photoshop (CMD/CTRL + O). I will be using this image I grabbed on my favorite “do whatever you want” high resolution photo website.
You will want to Crop (C) out the background since you won’t be needing it for this tutorial and really gives your subject of the focal point.
Create a Mask and Isolate out your object. For more info on how to create a mask I check out this tutorial to remove your background I created on how to create a mask. This method is using the Quick Mask Mode (Q).
Once the background is removed from the image Go into your Brightness/Contrast (Image->Adjustments->Brightness/Contrast) and bump up your contrast to 100.
Now time to Desaturate (CTRL/CMD + SHIFT + U) your image. This will remove any CMY from your image and leave you with grey tones.
Apply Threshold (Image -> Adjustments -> Threshold) to your image to create your stencil. This will vary depending on the image you have. This truly is a step of trial and error.
Add in a white background Using the rectangle tool (U) and start cleaning up the random dots using the brush tool. Using black/white colors.
Once your edges are smoothed out and the random unnecessary dots are out of the white you will have your finished stencil like effect! Even though you are essentially removing some details out of the image you still get enough of an idea of what it is. This can add some dramatic effect into the image for a comic scene, a retro poster and more.