At Stencil Stop, we’re down to create any stencil a customer requests - it’s why we get all sorts of crazy images and designs. Often, customers want stencils of people’s faces.
We weren’t sure how to handle the first few requests. With customer photos, lighting can be suboptimal and photos can be low-quality. But we’re not out here giving up on our customers!
Over time, we’ve established a series of steps using Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator to create perfect stencils of faces. Dog faces, human faces, couples’ faces, grandma faces, grandpa faces, alien faces. Really, any type of face will do.
8 Steps for Designing a Face Stencil
1. Select an image and import it into Adobe Photoshop.
The Weeknd’s album After Hours was released last week. We’ll use the album cover.
Typically, a photo that makes for a good stencil has the following qualities:
- Good lighting
- Contrast between background and foreground
- Clearly visible facial features like eyes, mouth
2. Make a copy of the image layer for reference.
Command + J / Ctrl + J is typically the shortcut for duplicating a layer.
3. Remove the background of the image.
You can use the Magic Eraser tool for this. Sometimes, if the image is too dark, manually remove the background using the Polygonal Lasso Tool.
4. Select Image > Adjustments > Threshold.
Move the slider to adjust the threshold.
5. Drag the black and white image into Adobe Illustrator. Select the image > image trace.
At Stencil Stop, this step is required because our manufacturing processes use vector paths to cut out stencils.
6. Delete white areas and, using the eraser tool, create bridges to connect floating areas.
7. Smooth out and edit any final details.
Illustrator’s Smooth tool is really great for removing unnecessary anchor points in a design.
8. Draw a border around the face.
Once the border is drawn, you can export the Illustrator file into whatever format you need to cut out your stencil.
At Stencil Stop, we use LaserWorks, which reads and cuts .ai files.
The key part of creating a face stencil is the Image > Adjustment > Threshold tool in Photoshop. Image selection is crucial in making this tool work properly. It takes time to identify which images can be converted into a good stencil, so don’t get discouraged.
Follow the guidelines above to create a stencil of any type of face.
Check out the final product: