This is a really popular project with high school students because the get to a) use spray paint and b) use x-acto blades! We looked at the work of one of my favourite artists, the British street artist Banksy. His work involves alot of political and social commentary and is also very humourous (dark humour).
|Banksy, "Riot Flowers"|
For this project, I had students choose a portrait to make into a hand-cut stencil. They could take an original digital photo themselves or use a picture of a famous person from the internet.
Here is a step-by-step sample I did to show everyone the process:
Upload any photo to an online photo editing program (Fotoflexer, Pixlr, etc.) If you know how to use Photoshop, of course that works as well.
Turn your photo first into black and white (grayscale). Then fool around and adjust the contrast until you have a super high contrast image.
Some photo editors might have a special feature for this (ie: 'ink stamp')
Below, I used Fotoflexer: I uploaded the photo, turned it to black and white, and then applied the 'ink stamp' feature. Easy peasy!
So here in the photo below I just fooled around with the contrast until I was pretty happy with the look of it. Print it out full size. If your photocopier or printer takes cardstock, print it out on that so you have a nice sturdy sheet of paper. If not, just trace the image onto cardstock.
So here it is below all traced out. I like to shade in the areas that need to be black and then cut those out using an x-acto knife and a cutting mat underneath.
These blades are super sharp- I always tell a really scary 'cutting accident' story before I let any students use these knives and then do a demonstration on how to use them properly. You know your class best and I would only do this project with a class that I trusted completely with using x-actos.
Here's a good thread on safely using x-acto blades with kids- some great tips there.
So here above is the stencil all cut out from a sheet of cardstock (it's black because I had used it already). Because it's thick paper, it takes time and patience to cut it all out. But you can use it over and over again- it's quite sturdy.
Now it's time to spray-paint. Do this outside, away from buildings, and in a large box to contain the over-spray. Tape your stencil down onto your good copy paper- use any colour you want.
I just buy cheap matte black spray paint at the hardware store.
Shake it really well beforehand.
Spray a nice even coat- I spray down at the artwork lying flat so you don't get any massive drips.
You might try using a low-tack spray glue so you get all the little pieces of paper glued down; otherwise they flip up a bit and spray paint goes underneath as it did here in the hair and it's just not as clean and sharp.
So here's my finished piece. You can look at the design and then choose to mask out some areas of your stencil you don't like with masking tape, or cut more areas.
Here are some student samples- they love making these and many end up doing their own at home
with different colours.
|c'mon baby light my fire...|
Other hand-cut stencil examples from students in Grades 11-12: