Creating Stencil

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Stencil graffiti is a form of urban art that offers quick and easy reproduction. Traditionally, a stencil is made from paper, cardboard or plastic. Usually the stencil is held tight against a wall or another surface and paint is sprayed onto it. Removing the stencil after painting reveals an instant application of the stencil art on the desired surface. Ideally, the paint will only touch the surface in areas where holes in the stencil are present. However, part of the signature appearance of stencil graffiti is the overspray effect that occurs around the edges.

In this chapter, we're going to create a virtual stencil from an existing work of black and white art. The ideal way to do this is to edit the art and then define it as a custom brush preset. However, rather than painting with the new brush preset, like we did in Chapter 1, we'll be using it as a stamp. All that you need to do to add a virtual stencil to an existing scene is choose the custom preset, and click once. Photoshop's custom brush capabilities allow you to put a virtual graffiti stamp on any digitally photographed scene with a single mouse click.

What makes your stencil art effect convincing, is what you do to your artwork before you define it as a brush. You need to distress the brush art, as if it were scratched and affected by the elements. Your overspray needs to look convincing, and for both realistic distress, and convincing overspray, we'll incorporate desktop scans of the real thing. Applying stencil art in Photoshop is indeed as simple as a single click of the mouse, but ensuring that it looks realistic is the direct result of the care you take in preparing your custom brush artwork.

1 I Open up the mask.jpg file. This file provides the subject matter for our initial piece of stencil art. Generally, stencil graffiti art provides social commentary or incorporates an activist theme, so a gas mask is certainly appropriate subject matter here. The first thing we need to do is lighten the density of the black so that even when our brush is eventually used at 100% the resulting stamp is still not entirely opaque. Choose Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation from the menu and increase the lightness by about 42.

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