Cheat Sheet for Positioning Stencils

What if you could see exactly how a word or quote would look on what you’re creating before you bring in a drop of paint? You can with this easy cheat sheet!

Video password:rainbow

Download the video here. Need help? Check out this page.

Stencil onto a transparency sheet, or any piece of clear plastic. I tend to do it with letters and words but it works with patterns and designs as well, and a piece of plastic.

Then cut apart any letters or phrases or elements so that you can place them on anything you’re creating. This enables you to audition, or test out, any stencil to see if it will fit or if you like the placement before you bring in the paint.

Once you have it positioned, then place the stencil on top of the transparency. Using repositionable tape, like washi tape, tape down the stencil.

The tape holds the stencil in place while you remove your transparency cheat sheet. Then you’re ready to add your paint!

Now it’s your turn to play! Look through your stencils and see which one you’d like to have a cheat sheet for and then create one on a piece of plastic!

I will see you in the next video where we’re stacking a stencil on top of itself to create a very colorful look.

Grab that camera when you’re playing and share a quick snap of your fun with us all in the comments below!

Supplies used in this lesson: I encourage you to substitute whatever you want whenever you want! A word about pricing- if a supply seems bizarrely expensive, substitute with another supply. I’ve found prices, especially on Amazon can really fluctuate. You can see the full workshop supply list here.


Course Overview


  1. This cheat sheet is SO simple to do but it is pure GENIUS! I love it, Carolyn! Many thanks! No more holding my breath when I aded words, etc. to a journal page!

  2. Hi, everyone! To keep the paint on your cheat sheet from getting scratched up, you could cover the whole thing in clear packing tape (overlapping pieces of tape) or contact paper. Just a thought. 🙂

  3. Mynquestion is, how do you store the cheat sheets? I’m sure you place them in a baggie or envelope with a label, but do you then store each sheet with its respective stencil?

    1. That would make a lot of sense to store the cheat sheet with its stencil, but I’m not that organized on it. They just sort of float around the studio in different places. A big envelope with them inside fits the best for the way I organize my studio, so after I finish typing this, I’m going to go get one and put them all in there- thanks for the idea Amy!

  4. Thanks Carolyn for your super organized workshop! Even though you have repeatedly stressed “use whatever you’ve got,” and believe me I’ve got a lot, I love the exposure to new stencils and you made it exceedingly easy to look them up for purchase (as well as all the other materials)! I can’t thank you enough!!!

  5. Carolyn, I am enjoying this class so much — now I know why the inimitable Stencil Girl herself (MBS) refers to you as the expert! as I watched the last bit of this video, I couldn’t help imaging stenciling the multi-colored rectangles on your tee shirt similar to how you did the birds. you are a delightful teacher.
    thanks so much, deLancey

  6. In love with the texture from the acrylic paint! I tried ink stamps for the word “Blossom” and your stencil placement tip for “grow”. And, I tried watercolor for the stems & leaves on the flower made with markers ; the pen lines inside the stencil shape saved the it from just being a blob of color. And, it’s great knowing ways to get words worked into a page. This lesson, and the last, provide some great skills training. Thanks, Carolyn!

    1. Love your sense of play and exploration with the techniques Patricia- and how you’re noticing what does what and what you like! Wouldn’t it be fabulous if our gardens had flowers as fun as yours in them!

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