Exposing your Ikonart Stencil Film works by using artwork to block the UV light, hardening the areas of the film that aren't blocked, and leaving the areas that are blocked water-soluble. Therefore, anything that will block the light from hardening the film can be used as "artwork".
The great thing about creating custom stencils with the Ikonart Custom Stencil Kit is that you have complete freedom over what design you create! You can create your own artwork in a design program or purchase artwork from a variety of clipart sites. There are also a lot of sites online that offer free clipart and svg files. Here are some of our most frequently asked questions when it comes to artwork.
Vector artwork is art that is created with crisp lines instead of pixels, which allows the artwork to be scaled or resized without compromising the integrity and quality of the original image. Vector artwork retains its crispness at any magnification. Crisp lines and high quality artwork are very important when making a stencil using the Ikonart Custom Stencil Kit.
File formats that indicate vector artwork: .ai .svg .eps .pdf
Still confused? Check out this handy video that visually shows the difference between vector artwork and non-vector art.
There are a variety of programs available to create high quality artwork. Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced artist, there is something for everyone. Here are some recommendations:
- Vectr: This is our recommendation for beginners. Vectr is a free graphic editor with just the basics, making it easier for beginners to learn. Perfect if you want to resize SVG files, set your own text, or create simple designs. You can design right in a web browser window, so you don't need to download a program. Watch our video series, Artwork For Beginners Using Vectr, if you are just getting started.
- Microsoft Word or Publisher: If you are just getting started and feel overwhelmed, try creating a basic design in Microsoft Word or Publisher, and then work up to more complicated designs
- Gravit Designer: Gravit is a great online graphics editor that was free, but it was purchased by Corel Draw and is no longer a free program.
- Inkscape: This free graphic editor is more robust and offers more features than Vectr and Gravit but because it has more features it is also a little trickier to learn.
- Silhouette Studio: Silhouette Studio was created to be used with the Silhouette Machine but it can be used by anyone. They have a free version with limited options, or a paid version that has more options available.
- Cricut Design Space: Cricut also offers design software that is free for anyone to use and there are tons of tutorials on YouTube showing how to use it.
- GIMP: A free graphic editor with sophisticated tools for the intermediate user.
- RapidResizer: An easy-to-use program that resizes your artwork to print across multiple pages ($59/year). They also have a free tool to turn photos into line drawings.
- Corel Draw: An affordable graphic editor ($109) for intermediate users that offers more features than the free graphic editors for those looking to make more advanced designs.
- Adobe Illustrator: The ultimate graphic editor offering all the bells and whistles for advanced users who are looking to create complex designs. Plans start as low as $21/month.
If you don't want to create your own artwork, there are a variety of sites you can get free or paid artwork from. Here are some recommendations:
- Ikonart Artwork: We offer free pdfs and SVG files (along with project ideas) to get you started with your kit.
- So Fontsy: Use our coupon code for a free download each month out of the Ikonart Design Shop on So Fontsy.
- LoveSVG: Free SVG files for personal use.
- Freepik: Free vectors for personal and commercial use (with attribution).
- Craft Bundles: Free or paid SVG files for personal and commercial use.
- Vecteezy: Free vector graphics with a built in vector editor.
- Design Bundles: Free or paid design bundles with tons of options. Use code IKONART10 for 10% off.
- Silhouette Design Store: Designs range in price. New designs uploaded regularly.
- Deposit Photos: Monthly memberships available for those who want a wide variety of vector artwork available at their fingertips.
- And so many more! Just search for "free SVG files" or "free vector art" online for tons of options!
If you are looking to create your own motivational quotes, monograms or other text graphics, there are a variety of sites you can get free or paid fonts from. Here are some recommendations:
- dafont.com: Download a wide variety of free fonts for personal and commercial use.
- Font Bundles: Free or paid fonts for personal and commercial use. Use code IKONART10 for 10% off.
The most important thing when setting up your artwork is to make sure it is 100% black. This will give you the best film positive when printing.
Every printer is different, but if your printer allows you to adjust ink and paper settings, we recommend adjusting the ink setting on your printer to print in only black ink and adjusting the paper setting to glossy. This will give you the most density when printing. High density artwork that is 100% black will give you the best positive to block out the UV light.
We use the Canon Pixma iX6820 with Arthur Imaging inks to print all our designs for our stencils. I saved my print settings as a preset to make printing each time a breeze. Check out this video to see my exact print settings that I use every time I make a stencil.
Note for Inkjet Film: When printing on our Inkjet Printer Film, it is important that you print on the EMULSION side of the film. The emulsion side is the side that is NOT shiny (the side you can put your fingernail into). There is a special coating on the emulsion side of our Inkjet Printer Film that we add to our transparencies in order to increase the density of your final artwork and give you the best positive possible for creating your stencils. Reflecting/mirroring artwork is optional for inkjet printers, but recommended if your artwork is very detailed.
Note for Laser Film: When using our Laser Printer Film you can print on either side of the printer film. Reflecting/mirroring your art is optional but recommended. If you laser printer is not printing your artwork dark enough you can try spraying it with Krylon Matte Finish spray or Krylon Workable Fixatif spray after you print your artwork.
When you print your artwork, it is important that the black areas can block ultra-violet light. Toner that looks dense on vellum paper may actually be closer to translucent in its ability to block UV light. A simple test: hold the artwork up to a light source (sunny window, lamp, etc.). If you can see any light through the black areas, the artwork is not dense enough and will not produce a good stencil. For an example of high density, hold a piece of black construction paper up to a light source. No light will bleed through. This is the density your artwork should provide.
If you have a low quality image or logo that you want to turn into vector art but can't figure out how to do it yourself, fiverr is a great resource. For just five dollars you can submit your artwork to a graphic artist and they will convert the file for you.
If you would rather work directly with a designer, we recommend Marlene Liss with Versatile Images. Marlene has a graphic design background and can help you with your artwork. Fluent in Spanish and English.
As you can see, artwork is a broad topic! There are a lot of videos and tutorials on Facebook and YouTube for creating vector art. Here is a list to start with:
- Making Small Stencils - Ikonart Crafters Facebook Group
- My Design Process - The Chalk Pair
- How To Make A Custom Reusable Stencil - Said Your Way Studio
- Tips for Exposing Ikonart Stencil Film - Ikonart
- Setting Up Multiple Images on a Page in Inkscape - Ikonart Crafters Facebook Group
- How To Adjust Print Settings to Print Dark - Ikonart
If you have any additional questions, please reach out to us.