How to Make a Semiphotorealistic Three-Shade Printcomments (7) December 1st, 2011
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.
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.
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