Learn how to make a color wheel stencil. A DIY stencil makes color mixing so much faster and easier.
You might also like this post on color theory.
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Painting color wheels is one of my favorite ways to explore color. I find it so much fun to mix colors from a primary set.
I also love mixing the colors from one set of paints to see what colors they make when combined.
Like this color study I did with the Daniel Smith Jean Haines set.
I don't love drawing color wheels or swatch sheets so made stencils to make it easier.
DIY Color Wheel Stencil
- Cricut or Silhouette
- Stencil material (cardstock, stencil film, mylar, or transparency sheets)
- Washi tape
I love using my cutting machines to make stencils. I've used cardstock, mylar, and transparency sheets.
Cardstock stencils are the easiest and cheapest to make. They don't last very long though.
Mylar is much harder to cut and may need several passes.
Transparency sheets are my favorite because they're pretty inexpensive and last longer. And they're easy to cut. The tape peels right off of it without damaging the surface.
What if you don't have a cutting machine?
It's still possible to cut simple stencils by hand. I used to do it like this all the time before I bought one.
For detailed cuts, use manicure scissors. They're super sharp and the small size lets you get into tiny spots.
For larger cuts, I highly recommend upgrading your old X-acto knife to this craft knife. It cuts a million times better.
- Upload your design to the design software.
- Resize if needed.
- Place the stencil material on the light grip mat. (My mats are pretty new and I know that the regular mat will destroy cardstock.)
- If you're using a Cricut, attach the files before sending them to cut. (This keeps the file from breaking apart.)
- Choose your material. If you're using a Cricut, there are options for cardstock in the paper section (choose the right weight) and an option for a transparency sheet in the plastic section.
- Select "more" pressure.
- Send to cut.
- Weed as usual.
Cricut tip: If you can't get your blade to cut through the material, remove the blade and try stabbing a ball of foil about 50 times. This will sharpen your blade. I think it cleans it too. (My last cut was felt.)
Silhouette: It has been a while since I used my Silhouette to cut transparency sheets, but the settings I used were: 1, 6, 19. There's a good chance that the software has changed since then.
Using the Color Wheel Stencil
After cutting the stencils, they're ready to use. I used watercolor with these colors wheels, but you can use any medium.
You can trace the shapes with a pencil and then paint them or you can tape the stencil down to paint. I like washi tape because it's cheap but still gentle on the paper.
For the color mixing part, it's nice to have a spare palette on hand. I like to use these cheap plastic palettes for mixing because they hold a decent amount of paint in the wells.
When using stencils, be careful about how much paint you add. Too much paint will cause the stencil to bleed.
I used cool primary colors for this color wheel. Magenta, yellow, and cyan produce really vibrant colors.
This color wheel can be used to explore tone. Isn't it amazing how 1 color can produce so many tones?
This little stencil can be used to paint a color palette or it can be used to explore what happens when you combine 2 different colors together.
My favorite weird color combo is purple and perylene green.
Get Your Own Color Wheel Stencil SVG Set
I'm selling this SVG set in my Etsy shop. It contains 9 different stencils for color mixing.
You will also receive a PDF version that can be printed. You can trace the shapes or they can be printed onto watercolor paper if you have a laser printer (it's waterproof.)
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