You’re walking in a forgotten section of town and you notice some graffiti art sketched with dried up markers on a brick wall. A few steps later you see a large, stenciled poster, once colorful, now faded and stained with time. You might even be lucky enough to catch glimpse of what’s left of a sidewalk artist’s masterpiece, roughed up with footsteps. First you think, “This art is kind of funky”. Then you think, “What wrong turn did I take to get here?”.
To publicize their grievances, proletarian artists will often silk-screen simple graphic illustrations and their message on newsprint and glue them by the hundreds on the walls of their city, or nail two or three at a time on every telephone pole. The fearless among them will even stencil their message directly on brick and concrete walls. Modern graphic artists like Shepard Fairey are influenced by this style of working-class artistic expression. You commonly see stenciled designs like this on graphic posters, t-shirts, book bags and other gear.
Choosing the right photo
Photo subjects for these stencil designs can range from people, pets, and upraised hands, to dirt bikes, statues, and grimy tennis shoes. Really anything could work. The trick is in the photograph itself. For the stenciled wall effect to work well, start with a high contrast image. In other words, where there are obvious differences in the light and dark areas. A picture of a statue at high noon is a perfect example; the shadows are harsh and help define the shape of the face. Most statues are on a pedestal, forcing you to aim towards the sky. This is another important point; keep the background clutter-free.
Using the Stencil Effect
Go to the create page and upload your photo to get started. When your image appears on screen, you may want to use the cropping tool to zoom in tighter. This might be a good way to remove some background clutter. You can also use BeFunky’s one-click Detail Enhancer under the Smart Enhancement menu or increase the contrast manually with the contrast slider under the Adjustment menu. The compare tool is active in the below screenshot, so you can see a part of the original photo at the left side and the enhanced version at right.
Next, click Stenciler in the left margin. The menu expands, displaying several effect options.
Select an effect to start the modifications to your photo. The BeFunky progress bar appears while your image is modified with the chosen effect. It won’t take long. Soon your modified image will appear on screen.
Don’t settle for the first results you get. Depending on the effect you choose and the settings you use, your image may start out unrecognizable, so play around with these effects until you achieve a look that you are trying to achieve. Some of these effects will create strong outlines; others will create light and dark shapes to indicate the image. Some effects will wash out or even replace the colors, others will intensify them. Play around with the effect settings to get the best result for your photo.
You can also modify the colors of the effect in a couple of ways. Check the Adjustments section and play around with Hue, Color Filter or Temperature values.
When you are happy with the results, use the buttons at the top right menu to save, share or print your new creation.
You probably already have some decorating ideas for your stencil style art. A teenager’s room wouldn’t be complete without a large print tacked to the wall. Or why not tack several copies on one wall, just like they do on the backstreets. Your art might look good on a t-shirt too. Your friends will ask where you bought the posters and your t-shirt. You can brag that you did it yourself on BeFunky.com.
Show the world you are cool. Take a photo of you in your t-shirt, standing next to your posters, and then post it on the BeFunky Flickr group.