I've been exploring using stencils to paint on T-shirts. My first design was based on a picture of the monk in the real tennis court (pictured below, left). This quirky design is instantly recognised by other tennis players, and has been quite popular.
Here's another design; the stencil was created based on my digital illustration (below, top left). I used the stencil on a T-shirt today, and am quite pleased with the result; the sweet image reminds me of a 1950s housewife.
A quick snapshot of the process
1. To create the stencil, I had to first simplify the image. I guess because I have not made many stencils, I was careful to not include too many details that would make cutting too challenging.
2. When I was happy with the new image, I printed it onto a sticker...
3. ...which I then stuck onto a transparency sheet. I am using a transparency sheet (rather than paper) so that the stencil can be used more than once (note that the image will be reversed, so take care if you have text in your design, or if orientation is important).
4. With the image on the transparency sheet, I began cutting the stencil, which was rather tedious. But once cutting was completed, the fun began :).
5. I placed the stencil onto the T-shirt and secured it by taping along the sides (The stencil can be used for any surface that you wish, but you have to use the right medium. For example, you'd want to use wall paint if you are putting the design on the wall... In this case, because I was painting on tshirt, I used a fabric medium with acrylics).
6. I prepared the paint, and used a flat stencil brush (I customised an old brush by cutting it flat across, but stencil brushes can be purchased from craft shops) to apply the paint by dry brushing (that means that when you pick up the paint, smear the paint onto a piece of scrap paper until the brush is almost dry and then stipple, initially from the edge of the stencil. It's better to apply a few layers of dry brushing than one layer of wet paint. Dry brushing provides an interesting fine texture and a neat finish with minimal smearing. This is a test of patience, so if you find yourself rushing, take a deep breath and slow down, walk away for a few minutes and continue later!).
7. When you are happy with the result, remove the stencil carefully (ensure that you have clean hands) and it is done (unless in the case of my T-shirt, the design had to be ironed so that the paint stays after washing).