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When it comes to making large complex grafitti stencils (say, 2x2 meters or larger), how is it actually done? With small stencils with fine details I assume you can just get stiffer card to keep the small cut parts into place, but how do you keep a large stencil in place, so that all its cut details don't bend over and you don't get spray paint underneath them? Getting that size of a stiff cardboard would be expensive, heavy and difficult manage, so I doubt this is the best way to go about it.

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  • How fine are the details? Is it something like alphanumeric text, where you could reinforce the connections by attaching an extra support layer, or is it an artistic design with a lot of small details and no room for additional support?
    – user24
    May 15 '19 at 16:00
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I have never done one, but for a large stencil, I would probably use a program like the free Paint software which comes with windows.

Start by changing your image size to enormous proportions calculated by multiplying your desired stencil size in inches by the dot-per-inch resolution of your printer.

In the software, zoom out until you can see the whole image space and then draw some light colored lines both across the page from edge to edge and from top to bottom. The resulting grid is going to help you align the printed pages with each other later in the process.

Now paste in your desired image and stretch it to fit the image size.

...then choose the print menu option. On the option screen, turn off the "stretch to fit page" checkbox, then click the print button.

The program is going to do is subdivide your "too-big-for-a-page" graphic into a matrix of pages, each containing a portion of your image.

Cut off the unprinted borders and then line up the light colored lines until every page is in its' place. Then tape them all together.

Next it is time to grab an exacto knife and remove the stencil parts where you want the paint to get through. This is where the fine cut details are going get troublesome. You might be able to glue (or tape) toothpicks (or thin wire) to the front of such details to strengthen them up a little.

When your stencil is completed, turn it over and spray the back with a repositionable spray glue. Make sure that all the details get enough glue on them to hold them onto the target surface without curling. Once the glue is sticky, you can apply the stencil to the target surface, rub down all the edges and get to painting.

The spray glue will make up for the flimsiness of your stencil material and as long as you apply your paint lightly, the printer paper should suffice to keep the shielded areas paint free.

You may need to trace your applied stencil with your xacto knife after the paint dies, just to assure clean edges and unwanted peeling.

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  • Apart from using MS paint software, i believe everything you said is perfect. MS paint has a lossy zoom. I'd prefer (and suggest) using corelDraw or Adobe Illustrator for that purpose. May 8 '19 at 16:08
  • @shripalmehta, do those programs do the grid printing across multiple pages? If so, then yes, I agree with you completely. May 8 '19 at 22:09
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    Yes, they do. In fact, they are greatly used to design and print huge banners and posters. They support vector designing (unlike MS paint which is pixel designing), hence, no loss of quality; and high accuracy and precision. May 9 '19 at 12:16
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Use acetate or another form of plastic. It is available in sheets or rolls for larger work. Acetate is used as frisket, ie. masks of various sizes, in airbrushing: it is clear (or sometimes translucent) so easy to trace over designs, cuts easily and thicker gauges are quite durable.

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There is also corrugated plastic that could be stiffened by pushing wire through multiple pieces. It's the same plastic used to make political signs. In fact, post election time is a great time to collect used signs, so if you volunteer to collect them for a campaign, it could be a free source of material. Then tape them on both sides at the seems, and that should provide additional stiffness.

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