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light stencil tutorial

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tdub303 is a group administrator tdub303 says:

UPDATED: There is an all new updated tutorial on light stencils. I suggest viewing he new tutorial.


Many people have asked me how I do my stencils so I decided to write a quick explanation. I would like to credit Cykuck for inspiring me to use stencils and thank him for his tutorial which is available HERE. Using his method I attained these results.
choppers!!hello...my name is...


For my method you will need an exacto knife, some tape, some thin cardboard (like from a cereal box) and most importantly opaque cellophane.

Step 1. If you have a printer cut the cardboard so it will fit through your printer. The cardboard I used was 22.5 cm X 32.5 cm and was from a cereal box.

Step 2. Print your design onto the cardboard with your printer. If you do not have a printer you can draw freehand or if you have artwork or a logo that you want to trace use carbon paper to trace the design onto the cardboard. I made my letters hollow to save ink!! You should now have something like this.

step 1

Step 3. Cut out the design with the exacto knife. Take your time here as a nice clean design is important. This step will ultimately decide what your stencil will look like. If you have a letter like 'O' be sure to save the middle circle as you will need that later. You should now have something like this.

step 2

Step 4. Tape some opaque(foggy) cellophane to the back of the stencil. Transparent cellophane does not work as there is nothing for the light to hit and the light just goes through like a window. You must use foggy cellophane. If all you can find is clear colors than scuff it up with something so there is something for the light to hit much like dirty windshield. Tape the middle parts of the letters(o,d,b, etc..) to the cellophane backing. You should now have something like this.

step 3

Step 5. Hold it up to a light to check that all the edges are nice and clean.

finished stencil

Taking the pics:
I illuminate the stencils with by firing a flash from another camera behind it. Any old camera will work. The main point here is use a flash rather than a flashlight. This will give it a super clean look with zero blurring of the edge. I typically hold the flash about 40-50 cm behind the stencil. Also, the part of the stencil directly in between the flash and the lens will 'twinkle' to add a little bling. In the pic below I blinged out the arrow by aligning it between the flash and the lens. If you want a smooth uniform look use a diffuser. In the pic below you can see the edges of the stencil but this is easily avoided. The first way is to adjust the Av value or another way is to cut the bottom of a box out and tape the stencil to it. The just fire the flash into the box to illuminate the stencil. It was 2am when I wrote this so towards the end I was just too lazy to attach mine to my box.....

rock the stencils!!

Now go take some pictures and post them back in here!!!!
Originally posted at 10:26AM, 14 June 2008 PDT (permalink)
tdub303 edited this topic 40 months ago.

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AndWhyNot is a group administrator AndWhyNot says:

Great tutorial ESP the *opaque* cellophane tip. will probably have saved me ages of head scratching LOL. Gonna give this a go real soon
71 months ago (permalink)

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Spagmasterswift says:

This is aces! Thanks man, will give it a go soon too...
71 months ago (permalink)

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Steve.M~ says:

Simple but really effective, great tutorial...thanks tdub.
71 months ago (permalink)

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Jayjay402 says:

Thank-you! Will definitely try this out some time soon! :D
71 months ago (permalink)

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Mishel Churkin says:

hi, as i promis (to tdub303) i upload my tut "stensil"

first of all sorry for my english :_\
in russia In each shop is chinees noodles (Disgusting)

The software-boxing is done of a box:
1.
On the back party we cut out an aperture under the form of flash
2.
The external party we paint in black color. It is necessary that light from flash would not pass from lateral faces of a box
3.
Then we print the image. I print 2 pieces. I impose against each other so the image would be imposed, it is necessary that light would not pass through a black background
4.
Then the printed picture it is put on a cover from a box
5.

We take flash and it is inserted into an aperture
6
all is done

i hope what this tut help somebody...
and second time Sorry for my english ))
Originally posted 71 months ago. (permalink)
Mishel Churkin edited this topic 71 months ago.

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tdub303 is a group administrator tdub303 says:

Thanks for obliging, Churkinms! I know everybody will appreciate your efforts and contributions.
71 months ago (permalink)

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Mishel Churkin says:

we s tdud303 find error at my post all my images all people who used Explorer can`t see images, 100% works at Firefox
if u want see all images normaly let me know, i reload images :)
71 months ago (permalink)

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WarzauWynn says:

Dude, awesome tutorial! Really freakin cool. I didn't quite understand that the front of the stencil didn't need to be black, and that the flash came from *behind* the stencil. This is much more understandable after reading through your whole tutorial. Awesome shizz :)
71 months ago (permalink)

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Mason Osgood Photography says:

Finally it makes sense! Great tutorial!
71 months ago (permalink)

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Mishel Churkin says:

good morning, i fix it all :) enjoy
71 months ago (permalink)

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tdub303 is a group administrator tdub303 says:

awesome, thanks again! I gotta get me a 580 EX too!
71 months ago (permalink)

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quasikunst...asa says:

i started my stencillight projekt in jan. 2oo8 =)

quasikran
71 months ago (permalink)

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hookietp says:

dude!! i am so gonna try this asap!
71 months ago (permalink)

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halloosin8 is a group administrator halloosin8 says:

Thanks for this tdub, I'm definitely going to give it a go.
70 months ago (permalink)

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V a s s says:

Stencil
My very first attempt after reading this tutorial.
thanks folks !
Originally posted 70 months ago. (permalink)
V a s s edited this topic 70 months ago.

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steve06srt8 says:

Here is my version of the light box:

the Punisher

LightBox Version 1

just a box with drop in stencil
folds flat for storage
It's pretty rough looking..but it's my first attempt
thanks guys for posting your work!
68 months ago (permalink)

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Paul Excoff says:

haha my lightbox that i just built today is a piece of crap and is completely unstorable
68 months ago (permalink)

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tdub303 is a group administrator tdub303 says:

@ steve06srt8 - thanks for showing us. i am using almost the exact same set up. The difference is my flash is at the back of the box behind the stencil where i noticed yours is at the side. Why did you choose the side rather than the back?
68 months ago (permalink)

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steve06srt8 says:

Hi tdub,
There just happened to be a handle hole there...
haha
I was planning on putting it at the back...i may still do so
I just built this today. Still pretty rough
Steve
68 months ago (permalink)

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d.walz says:

i find it can be fun to skip the whole opaque cellophane step. it makes the fills a little more interesting

flickr.com/photos/29992007@N08/2883434431/in/set-72157607...

flickr.com/photos/29992007@N08/2880616661/in/set-72157607...

maybe its just me ?
Originally posted 68 months ago. (permalink)
d.walz edited this topic 68 months ago.

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truemarmalade says:

IMG 5868

Here's a picture of my rig. You can go to www.flickr.com/photos/truemarmalade/sets/7215760771872945... and see the full set of all the process I took to create

diamonds final.jpg
67 months ago (permalink)

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truemarmalade says:

www.flickr.com/photos/truemarmalade/2991272440/

Here's a link to part 1 of my light stencil tutorial. It goes through my processes to set up the stencil and rig.
66 months ago (permalink)

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majomo-photography says:

started building mine. been on hold over the weekend thanks to partys but hope to get it ready.

wondering if anyone can suggest a decent thing for gels?
66 months ago (permalink)

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majomo-photography says:

ok . finished the box. need a decent stencil but so far. i am impressed
66 months ago (permalink)

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majomo-photography says:

stencil test

rubbish weather so the spare room had to do.
Originally posted 66 months ago. (permalink)
majomo-photography edited this topic 66 months ago.

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B-H-Rush says:

Bh-Rush<3


First time stencil, dont really know how I do it, but i think the outcome came out ok vell.
66 months ago (permalink)

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majomo-photography says:

well, tried it outside. it works well i think... not sure but i think it should be ok

majomo
66 months ago (permalink)

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tdub303 is a group administrator tdub303 says:

looking good mr. montgomery!
66 months ago (permalink)

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{ tcb } says:

oh! it all seems so simple now. i knew something was wrong when flashlights shined through my stencils, paper covering! this one i used a glowstick, but some of these flash insert methods look really good. thanks.

50cal by { tcb }

66 months ago (permalink)

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capella_7009 says:

1st attempt at stencil-ing! :D
My techniques & tools are still a major work-in-progress (had to just make due with what I already had), so it came out looking a bit rough... but was lots of fun to experiment with!
Looking forward to playing with this technique some more in the future...
Thanks for posting all the great tutorials, everyone... they're really cool!

capella_numbers
66 months ago (permalink)

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Paul Excoff says:

I printed the color image (on matte photo paper) on a black background on one side, then a white silhouette of the image on the other side (with a black background)
IMG_5393
66 months ago (permalink)

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El Luz Perpetua! says:

7

My first attempts after reading this tutorial. Thank you all, I now have something to get proper obsessive over!
I Made the stencil from a shoe box, packing foam sheets and a film camera with toilet roll over the flash to disperse the light.
Not perfect but a good start.
Going to need a bigger box...
65 months ago (permalink)

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{ tcb } says:

tcb∆

made this one recently. ∆
63 months ago (permalink)

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{ tcb } says:

there are 26

the witching hour

yes, i am mostly crazy, somewhat productive, obsessive compulsive bi-polar bear. ∆
62 months ago (permalink)

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port23user says:

Great tutorial! I'm excited to try it once I get the chance..
62 months ago (permalink)

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sebastianjameslairdtaylor says:

going to sound rediculous- but where online can i buy opaque cellophane?
i want to try this out so bad
62 months ago (permalink)

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tdub303 is a group administrator tdub303 says:

thin paper will work...
62 months ago (permalink)

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{ tcb } says:

made this for a class project, potential light stencil leave behind promotion piece. ∆

CFYE collapsable light stencil package

instruction booklet spread

collapsable light stencil
62 months ago (permalink)

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Hobocop says:

SL370822 by Hobocop


Hi everybody! My attempt on building a reusable, foldable light stencil with "stencil changing option" ;-)
Got the basics from tdub303´s tutorial and used the basic design of THEM_chernobyl_BUDS project. A big thanks to you guys!
It´s made of Foam, you can fold it and the stencil it self can be exchanged very fast.
The test pictures are done flashing a LED behind it so its not that good but i´ll try it with a flash tonight


62 months ago (permalink)

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michaelzyy says:

sorry guys! how to pos the pics here! i am a new! thx
62 months ago (permalink)

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-Will- says:

that

Light Box-Day 42 by -Will-

into this
Attack-Day 43 by -Will-


At the moment the flash recharge time is aboout 30secs so i had to use a torch to make the shapes
61 months ago (permalink)

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-Will- says:

to michaelzyy
you go onto the picture you want
click on share this in the top right
go down to grab the link
copy and paste the link in square brackets [ ]. it will be like the small images above
61 months ago (permalink)

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Poole-shooter Cindi is a group administrator Poole-shooter Cindi says:

michaelzyy There is another way to post photos.
Go to the photo you want to post.
At top of photo click on "All Sizes"
click on "medium"
In the text box under "Copy and paste this HTML into your webpage:" click once, the text will turn blue.
Now, right click on the blue text and select "copy"
Go to the topic where you want to post your photo and scroll down to where it says "Reply to this topic?" and right click in the box and select "paste"
Then click "post now"

Hope this helps.
61 months ago (permalink)

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jannepaint says:

Oh damn, why haven't I been reading this tutorial before?!
That is SO much easier way of making light stencils than what I've been using! Oh well, live & learn! :P
I have made my light stencils by carving them into a cardboard shoe boxes and lighted them with my mobile phone from the side of the box, not straight from behind..
The good thing about lightning the stencils with a longer lasting light is that you can move the stencils, which gives them quite cool effect! :)
Here's my version:
Heavy Burden
The bad thing is, just like tdub said, the stencils look always a bit blurry:
Lost Kitties
Originally posted 61 months ago. (permalink)
jannepaint edited this topic 61 months ago.

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{ tcb } says:

^dude, you are on another level with those stencils Jannepaint!!
61 months ago (permalink)

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{ tcb } says:

bling


60 months ago (permalink)

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jannepaint says:

Thanks tcb! :)
That's a cool moving stencil, looks like a Shuriken.. hmm, fits well with this, I suppose:
:D
Light Warrior
60 months ago (permalink)

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majomo-photography says:

so my first ever stencil that worked well was about 7 months ago



I am wondering, especially at you, TDUB... how are you making yours so solid and bright. ive moved to a new city where there is going to be some great stuff and i have got a new bunch of folks who are keen on helping.
59 months ago (permalink)

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Laura DelPrato says:

Actually I fixed this one up a bit and thought I would add one more =)






Originally posted 59 months ago. (permalink)
Laura DelPrato edited this topic 59 months ago.

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room4avu says:

Great tip! Thanks I'm anxious to try this !
58 months ago (permalink)

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Son of Vin says:

What a great idea. I will have to try this out.
58 months ago (permalink)

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54 Ford Customline says:

very interesting tutorial..thank you!
57 months ago (permalink)

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PhotoDaddio says:

this is my most recent stencil work

The Rebirth of UltraViolence
55 months ago (permalink)

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JacquiJSB says:

Great tutorial. Would like to give this technique a try someday.
Thanks
54 months ago (permalink)

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α&Ω says:

Thanks for this tutorial, i was wondering how you guys make so awesome photos!. Starting with light painting :) and i'm loving it.
52 months ago (permalink)

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melekalikimaka says:

my attempt

Space Invaders Colours
49 months ago (permalink)

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ashishkamat2 says:

wow gr..sir,i m not able to view tutorial it says pvt...
49 months ago (permalink)

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MBSILAO says:

My very first light stencil :3
DSC_0087_LR
49 months ago (permalink)

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Easa Shamih (iZZo) | P.h.o.t.o.g.r.a.p.h.y says:

nice work :)
48 months ago (permalink)

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BPPhotog aka-zαug says:

This is great!!
Perhaps the evolutionary successor of the shaped bokeh lens covers.
CheerZ! and thanks to all for the inspiration.
(WhooHoo! something new to build 8 )
Originally posted 48 months ago. (permalink)
BPPhotog aka-zαug edited this topic 48 months ago.

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Deschno says:

Thanks for this tutorial!
Here is my first stencil work.

Bat controlled by Deschno

47 months ago (permalink)

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epixelepsy says:

Hey guys, you do great! What kind of coloured film do you use to make the stencil light so nice?
For my stencils I use "sandwich-paper" and fix 5 layers on top of each other to get the right brightness - how do you handle the brightness?

Cheers
47 months ago (permalink)

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Janice Sauce says:

Hi everyone, I just started stenciling a few days ago, I really want to balance the stencils and strobes. Here is what I did yesterday! :

6.12.10
Originally posted 47 months ago. (permalink)
Janice Sauce edited this topic 47 months ago.

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majomo-photography says:

looks great! how have you assembled your stencil? it looks very clean.
47 months ago (permalink)

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argg says:

Thanks for the great tut!

Here's my first attempt
DSC_7295
46 months ago (permalink)

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Light Saver says:

Just a thought as to the "opaque cellophane" - try using wax paper or parchment paper. Works just as well.
36 months ago (permalink)

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tdub303 is a group administrator tdub303 says:

or you could check out my new tut on how i do them now. i wrote this one 3 years ago and have since modified the process greatly.

the new tutorial is here.
Originally posted 36 months ago. (permalink)
tdub303 edited this topic 36 months ago.

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ant-o-rama says:

thanks for the info, i didn't get this far down but not having any cello on hand figured i'd give wax paper a try, here's my first attempt, will check out the new tut now ;)
rather rare reindeer ren
Originally posted 36 months ago. (permalink)
ant-o-rama edited this topic 36 months ago.

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