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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Note: If you are doing a one-color stencil, of course you don't have to worry about all that shade order stuff, but you also don't even need to trace-you can just carve directly over the image, since it'll be easy to see the defined lines with no gray.

Repeat the tracing for the second shade, keeping in mind the order. So, you need to be sure any area that is the first shade is kept out of the stencil, while shapes in the third shade can be left in. If this is hard to understand, just think about the layers-in my stencil, first white will go down, then gray, then black. So you can't print gray over area that should be white, but you can print gray over black spots because the black goes down last.

Another thing about freezer-paper printing in general, regardless of shades: While in normal stenciling you can't have any "islands" (spots in the stencil that aren't connected to the rest of the stencil), with freezer paper you actually can have islands. The stencil will be ironed in place, so you can iron the islands on, too. But, especially with the three-shade technique, it is good to avoid them when possible to prevent losing pieces and just to make it easier. When tracing the stencils, I shade in the small islands to remember that they are a part of the stencil, so when I'm carving I'm sure to keep the pieces safe.

  Those two spots in the eye area are islands-they will be ironed on as part of the stencil.

Now trace the third shade, which should mostly be small shapes. In my stencil, I chose to include the black background as part of the print, but you can choose to stencil the outline of the face (or object) with no background.

  Since I'm printing the black background, the entire face section of the stencil is an "island" because it's not attached to the rest of the stencil.

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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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