How to Make a Semiphotorealistic Three-Shade Print

comments (8) June 14th, 2013     

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leethal Lee Meredith, contributor
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Its a wacky, semiphotorealistic portrait of Christopher Walken!
Any object with well-defined lines like this camera will make a great stencil!
This three-shade process is so magical because once you put the three stencils together, your image will appear!
Its a wacky, semiphotorealistic portrait of Christopher Walken!

It's a wacky, semiphotorealistic portrait of Christopher Walken!

Photo: Lee Meredith
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Now you need to adjust the image to be stencil-friendly. First crop it to just the area you want to use. Then adjust the contrast so that there is a large amount of pure black and a large amount of pure white, with some gray. I use the levels option in my program, but you can use brightness/contrast or whatever option(s) work for you.

Note: If you want to make a one-color stencil, adjust until you only have pure black and pure white, with no gray at all.

  The levels option will give you the most control-just move those arrows in until the image looks how you want it.

Print the image the size you want your stencil. Don't worry if it's blurry; you'll smooth out the lines when tracing and carving. Now you'll need to figure out the order of your color layers. Whichever shade (black, white, or gray) covers the most area in the image, with the least amount of small shapes that aren't connected to the rest, should be your first shade. Whichever shade has the most small, stand-alone shapes should be your third shade.

  With this image, white was the first shade, then gray, then black, since all those small shapes in the eyes, nose, and mouth are black.

Cut the freezer paper into three pieces as big as or bigger than the stencil area. Tape one piece, wax side down, to the image paper on one side only. Trace your first shade-it's helpful to write the shade and number above the image so you don't forget later. For the first color, you just need to trace the outline of the major shape; there's no need to worry about all the #2 and #3 shade spots within that shape because you'll be printing them on top. Because of the gray shades, it may be hard to see the line definition, which is why you put tape on only one side-lift the freezer paper to check on the lines, and the tape will hold it in place.

  Keep an eraser nearby because you'll probably need it at some point!

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posted in: fabric, paint, stencil, gifts for men, print, guy gift, boyfriend, husband, printmaking

Comments (8)

tommoody33 writes: This is incredibly generous of you to share this information and your talent. you using Freezer-paper stenciling was the method of printing is great.
Posted: 4:43 am on June 26th
Keren_D writes: Hi Lee,

This is a great tutorial. I've seen a lot of craft/sewing tutorials and this one is fascinating, well-explained, and well-photographed. Excellent!

BTW, do you have a blog?

Keren (
Posted: 1:23 am on December 17th
Jetmuis writes: wooow what a great tute you have made!!!!
awesome too your designs , well done.
love this!!!! thank you too for the sharing, your very gifted and rocking;-D!!!!!!
Posted: 4:54 am on December 12th
christineblint writes: Far away and far out idea and execution. My congrats to you and your creativity--you are a professional.
Posted: 1:33 pm on December 13th
OTorres writes: Lee, this is just so cool, thanks
Posted: 10:46 am on December 13th
crafty1900 writes: this is great! very thorough.
Posted: 7:16 pm on December 10th
ohbrooke writes: Okay, THIS is BRILLIANT. I'm going to do it, and I'll be sure to send pictures. My husband would LOVE this!
Posted: 3:27 pm on December 10th
TipiLady writes: Is it possible to get giddy over crafting? I can hardly keep the smile off my face. Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou! This is going to save a bundle on Christmas presents and a whole lot of other occassions. This is incredibly generous of you to share this information and your talent. I can't wait to try it.
Posted: 1:00 pm on December 10th
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