Using a stencil brush

In this tutorial we are going to be covering the basics of stencilling using a stencil brush. Brushes are great for smaller stencils and stencil projects. With a brush you also have more hands on control of the paint and can achieve effects such as shading and blending. In this tutorial we are going to be painting our XS flamingo stencil using block colour and the stippling technique. 

Okay so what tools do we need for a basic stencilling project?

  • Stencil (from ideal stencils)
  • Stencilling brush
  • Paint (acrylic, emulsion, NOT cheap and watery poster paints)
  • A polystyrene or similar plate to put the paint on
  • Something to adhere the stencil to the surface – repositionable spray mount/low tack tape
  • Kitchen roll to off load your stencil brush
  • OPTIONAL – Pencil, spirit level, fine line touch up brush

Firstly we need to attach the stencil to our surface and to do this you can use repositionable spray mount or pieces of low tack decorating tape. We like to use the spray mount as this holds the stencil nice and flat to the surface, this means there is less risk of paint bleeding under the stencil and causing blotchy edges. 

Position your stencil and smooth it to the surface making sure that any smaller detailed areas of the stencil are pressed down.

Now lets load our stencil brush with paint. Swirl your stencil brush into your paint to get the paint absorbed up into the bristles. Then off load it onto the kitchen roll. We want our brush to be damp with paint and not wet. Stencilling is considered a dry brush technique and too much paint on the brush will cause paint to bleed under the stencil causing blotchy edges.

When your brush is well off-loaded we can commence with the fun part of stencilling. The best method of using a stencil brush is by using the stippling or pouncing technique. Hold your brush at 90° to the surface and paint the stencil using a short up and down motion to dab the paint over the stencils cut out areas. I like to use a slight brushing in motion from the outside of the stencils cut out edges inwards to obliterate the risk of paint getting pushed under the stencil. Use lighter pressure to start with and increase pressure as you go on. When your brush needs it re-load it with paint, off-load it on the kitchen paper and continue painting. 

When you have finished painting your stencil and have got the desired effect you can remove your stencil without the need for letting it dry.

You are then free to position the stencil again and re paint following the same methods. In this way you can paint a repeated pattern and in this case have pretty pink flamingos everywhere!


Top things to remember for crisp stencilled images:

  • Use repositionable spray mount for best results
  • Don’t have to much paint on your brush (you can always add more if necessary)
  • Stipple in from the edges of the cut out areas
  • Use a decent quality paint – acrylics, emulsions NOT cheap kids poster paints!

Stencilling is fun and easy, and what you want to use them for is entirely up to you. They have many uses, but this brush technique is the same whatever you are painting.

Where do you want to go now?
How to clean your stencil
Stencil using a roller