How to create and use your own stencils

Hello there, charmers! Sasha here in this magical Season of Fairy Tales to share a few tricks on creating your own stencils. Let’s start!

I have never had access to a wide range of interesting stencils where I live. So, I Β could never truly appreciate their convenience and multiple uses. Until I decided to create a few stencils myself to give them a try – and I was instantly in love. Moreover, when you make them yourself, you have absolute creative freedom and can make your stencils suit your style and art needs.


  1. Stencil material. It can be anything, really: paper, cardboard, acetate, food/art supplies packaging etc. The thicker the material, the longer your stencil will serve you.
  2. Packaging tape (optional). I find that if I use any paper, but completely cover it with packaging tape prior to cutting out a stencil, it holds up much longer. Plus, the packaging tape doesn’t let the paper get ruined by extensive amounts of paint.
  3. A pen/pencil. You need it to draw your stencil shapes onto the paper. If you are going to use acetate, you can use a sharpie or any other pen that writes on plastic surfaces.
  4. Cutting tools. Scissors, X-Acto knife, paper knife, any other fancy tools that I don’t know the name of – whatever works for you.
  5. Cutting surface. I guess, a cutting mat would be ideal, but I don’t have one. So, I just used a glass cutting board. Make sure you protect your table surface if you are going to cut your stencil with any kind of knife.
  6. Last, but not least – stencil inspiration. This is the part where you can go crazy with your imagination and create the stencil of your dreams. If you are a good drawer – draw the outline yourself. If you are more like me, and can only draw abstract or geometrical shapes (which I did!) – search the Internet for the shapes that you want. A simple Google search like “cityscape outline” or “fern leaf outline” will give you dozens of good options to choose from for your future stencil.

Stencil Ideas

  • leaves, herbs, plants
  • flowers
  • city skylines
  • houses
  • a magical castle πŸ˜‰
  • animals and birds
  • a human figure
  • hands (this one is on my personal to do list!)
  • geometric shapes (triangles, circles, diamond shapes etc.)
  • abstract shapes (wobbly circles,scallops, other random shapes)
  • stars and moon
  • raindrops
  • hearts
  • clouds
  • ornaments (these might be difficult to cut out)

The possibilities are endless. Let’s get to work!


Things I Have Learned

  1. X-Acto knife is hard! I much prefer cutting stencils with scissors when it’s possible.
  2. Intricate small details are very difficult to hand cut. It takes a lot of patience and hand maneuvers. So, if you are not very patient, go for bigger simpler shapes.
  3. Acetate was very difficult to cut. Yes, it is more durable than paper. However, if you are looking for an easier option – go for a packaging tape covered piece of paper or card stock.
  4. If you can, cut your stencil carefully, so in the end you also have a mask – the middle part of your stencil. That way, you end up with two shapes you can use in your art journal: a stencil – to fill the shape in with paint; a mask – to paint around the shape.
  5. Drawing stencils from your imagination is more fun than you think – just try it! πŸ˜‰

How I Use My Stencils

City skyline stencil and mask. This one appeared to be one of my favorites. If you live in a big city, you can even try to find its skyline outline! How cool would that be to have a stencil of your city? This one is very versatile – you can create a night scene (like I did) or turn it into a magical kingdom! (see those stars and the Moon? They are coming your way in one of Week 3 tutorials. Can you guess who the author is? *wink-wink*)

  1. Bird stencil. This one turned out so cute! Now I can add birds to my abstract layered backgrounds. Those pretty gemstones and magical elements are also coming your way on Week 3! πŸ˜‰

3. Fern/other plant inspired stencils and random shaped stencils. My other favorites – stencils that are inspired by nature. I never seem to get tired of using them. Now, that I have a fern stencil (which I originally saw in Katie’s work), I want to add it to every page. These make for a perfect abstract heavily layered background. Love it!

Now, let your imagination go wild! Use stencils on their own, layer them, use only parts of stencils.

Have fun making magic!

Action Steps


Choose material for your future stencil.


Decide on the shape you’re going to cut out. Try to make a stencil inspired by your favorite fairy tale. What is it going to be. Bean stock? A glass slipper? Cheshire Cat? A gnome? A rose? A dragon? You choose! πŸ˜‰


Cover your stencil paper with packaging tape (optional).


Draw/print and copy the shape onto your stencil material.


Cut it out.


Create a fairy tale with your new stencil! Use one or multiple stencils per page. Enjoy and experiment.


Sasha is a freelance online English teacher from Ukraine, currently residing in Poland. She has been creative since very young age being raised in the family of photographers and actors. Sasha is a classic example of a β€œscanner” personality and often tries new creative things.


  1. Katie Smith

    I love your fern stencil!

    • Sasha Zinevych

      Thanks!! I was determined to have one after seeing you use yours! ;))

  2. Stephanie manic

    Oh Sasha! I love your video and your ideas! You are a great teacher!!

    • Sasha Zinevych

      This is such a nice compliment! Thank you so much, Stephanie!! <3

  3. Clare Davis Etheridge

    Thank you thank you thank you! I was just staring at my new shiny journal and wondering where to start. So I thought I would see if there was a new tutorial and here you are! I am super inspired to make stencils and use them. I am no longer afraid of the blank pages. Skipping off to find cardboard, tape and scissors….

    • Sasha Zinevych

      Oh, Clare! You make me so happy! πŸ™‚ I am so so happy you found the inspiration you were looking for and I cannot wait to see your creations! P.S. That oval/drop stencil with gold you made paint is so good!

  4. Melody Willoughby

    I do make stencils and masks from card stock but I have never used tape. Great idea!! I can’t decide which stencil I like the most the bird or the botanicals.

    • Sasha Zinevych

      Yay! I am glad that although you are familiar with this technique, you still found some pieces of useful information, Melody! πŸ™‚ Thank you! <3

  5. Gilly Welch

    I love the idea of using packing tape, I’ve never actually made my own but your video has definitely inspired me to try, thank you Sasha.

    • Sasha Zinevych

      I really hope you give these a try, Gilly! They are very fun to play with! πŸ™‚

  6. Rebecca Johnstone

    I’ve never thought of doing this – amazing. Love your vibrant, vivid pages!

    • Sasha Zinevych

      So glad I gave you an idea to try! Thank you, Rebecca! πŸ™‚