My friend Jessica came over tonight to show me how she turned a photograph into a larger than life stencil. She had done one of a cute couple of friends all kissy face, and is planning to spray paint them onto a background that includes lettering and random designs. I don't have many pictures of me and my husband together (usually because we're the ones with the camera at this stage of life!), but I have plenty of my kids. I've never gotten around to doing the cool silhouettes of them as babies, but this is just slightly cooler on the crafty scale. Here's what we did tonight.
We started with this picture, taken of Molly this summer at a birthday party - I just love her little scrunched up face!
In Picasa, because I'm lazy and haven't had time to really learn GIMP, we turned it black and white, then used the "sharpen" tools for a little more contrast and then turned up both the highlights and the shadows until her features stood out. I saved this image as a new file so I didn't lose my cute original.
My camera is set to take high resolution (which makes uploading them to the photoshop take FOREVER, but my prints usually turn out great, so it's a worthwhile trade off) and large, if I were just to print them out they are like 16x20 inches or something ridiculous like that, so I try to remember to scale them down for emailing, but I often forget and then clog up someone's email (sorry about that, too!) But it works out perfect for this! In Publisher, I opened a blank document and inserted the whacked out picture, which did not fit on the one little page that Publisher gave me. I set the printing to print actual size as a poster, then printed using "draft" mode, because I knew it was going to use a bunch of ink, and I had messed with the image enough to give me enough contrast to trace the major parts I wanted. Anyway, we got 4 regular sheets out and then taped them together.
Next, we looked for options since we were working without the sun on our side. Ordinarily, I might have hung this up on my bedroom closet doors (great big mirrors) like I do when tracing off patterns like Ottobre, but Jessica had brought posterboard, and the photo wasn't visible through the posterboard when it was held against a wall or a window or the mirror. So we ended up tracing the photo over a lamp. This worked amazingly well, but I probably won't be allowed to do it if hubby is here next time! We just traced very simply over Molly's features.
With an x-acto knife we cut away the lines that had been drawn in the tracing. Jessica's photos that she had turned into a stencil had people with darker features, but I figured with Molly's baby features and little curls we only needed to trim smaller sections out to emphasize her features. At some point early on Jessica told me, "Just cut out the line you drew," and at that point it made a lot of sense and went very quickly.
For some people, this may be easier to do if you turn the tracing upside down. I learned about myself that if I can turn whatever it is upside down, at least in my head, then I quit worrying so much about what it actually is and can draw it because I'm just focusing on the simple lines of whatever it is. So turning the stencil upside down sped things up for me because I wasn't worrying so much about all those cute little curls or the little pucker of her chin, and I could just cut away the lines.
Here is what it looks like with just a few of my lines cut away:
You can see my tablecloth through the stencil as we were cutting (there was a box top we were using to hold the posterboard away from the tabletop, but at the very end we found out the using a scrapbooking cutting mat worked really well).
Now Molly's all cut out! Jessica is holding her up against the wall (yes, my living room walls are red - my favorite!)
The parts that were cut out were all removed (and were all tasted by Miss Molly herself as they floated to the floor) and those will be the areas covered by paint when I figure out what to paint her onto. Not the walls, at least not in this house since it will possibly be going on the market soon. Maybe a big canvas covered with something else or just a wash of soft colors. I can see a whole series of these as a family gallery grouped together for a really dramatic presentation.
And again - another perspective just with a different contrast (sitting up on the couch) . Thanks again, Jessica, for showing me how!!