Basically, we took an image on the computer, turned it into a silhouette, printed it off, traced it onto poster board (or something slightly thinner), cut it out, and then spray painted the images onto t-shirts! This project is a bit time consuming, but the end result is worth it! I had Dan help me put together a step-by-step walk through to get you started.
**You will be working with Rustolium flat-black spray paint. To avoid intoxication from fumes, spray in a well-ventilated area or outdoors. You will also want to be where the wind isn't blowing too much. Wouldn't want all that hard work blowing away!**
Most computer programs capable of manipulating pictures can turn them into a black-and-white suitable for stenciling. Every program offers unique tools, so play with them to find out what they do. You may want jot notes on your new discoveries so keep a pen and paper close, or record them in a word document. What's worse than wrestling with a uncooperative program is getting the blasted thing to work and forgetting how you did it.
My program of choice is PowerPoint because I'm too cheap for Photoshop. It doesn't handle fine details as well as other programs, but it does enough. Here are the basic steps for turning your picture into a black-and-white...
(1). Upload your picture and change it to gray scale (format picture - picture - recolor - gray scale).
(2). Open your toolbox and crop away what you don't need (toolbox - picture - crop).
(3). Select your picture and in the toolbox you should find an 'effects' tool. Click on it.
(4). Somewhere in the list of effects should be something called 'color control.' Within color control you will find 'saturation,' 'brightness' and 'contrast.' These three elements help shape your stencil. I mostly use saturation but a little adjustment goes a long way. When you adjust the saturation, you won't see hardly any difference in your picture at first.
(5). Go back to 'format picture' and change your picture from gray scale to black and white.
(6). If you like what you see, well done! If you don't like it, click 'undo' and repeat steps 3-5, experimenting with saturation, brightness and contrast.
It should end up looking something like this:
(1). You could print the picture off on card stock and cut it right out of that. This would work only if your stencil is small. If you cut too much and don't leave a margin, you give yourself a higher risk of ripping the stencil and having spillover when spray painting.
(2). You could trace the stencil onto poster board (this is what we did) and then cut it out. This way allows you to have plenty of space to work with and when spray painting you lower the risk of getting any of the splash on the t-shirt! The easiest tracing method is to shine a lamp through a hard, clear surface so that the silhouette shines through the stencil material. We use our glass coffee table with a lamp beneath it and the silhouette and stencil material on top.
Dan and I have done this a few times, so we connected the large piece and then cut out the smaller part for the face and just carefully placed it before spraying each shirt. It is up to you how you want to go about it. The same goes for the lettering. All of the O's, B's, P's, E's, A's, and G's have holes in them. Instead of making miniscule bridges, we cut them out and placed a small piece of aquarium gravel in each spot. Again, it is up to you how you want to go about it!
Take the spray paint can and start by holding it a ways away from the picture, doing short, light sprays at first until a thin layer is applied. Then you are able to start going a little heavier to make sure you get all of the detail you worked so hard for. NOTE*** Be sure to hold the can DIRECTLY ABOVE the stencil! If you bring it too close and angle it at all, the paint will get under the stencil and you will lose some detail!
Once you have a nice even coat of paint on the shirt (make sure you do mot make it too thick) carefully remove any weights you may have put on it, then gently remove the stencil itself. Voila! You have your first t-shirt! Hang it on a hanger somewhere to dry for about an hour where it won't be bumped or wrinkled. Once it is totally dry (when you're able to touch the paint on the shirt and it is no longer sticky at all) go ahead and turn it inside out and throw it in the dryer for about 20 minutes to help seal it on. Washing and drying the shirt inside out will help preserve the image over time.
Repeat as many times as you like and with as many colors as you like! We kept the black paint, but switched up the color of the shirts.