The simplest way to make stencils is to apply the design to stiff polyester plastic sheeting, and then cut out the stencils with a craft knife. The easiest way to prepare the design is on a computer. Design the stencil to appear exactly as needed, including the final size. Print the design out, and trace onto the plastic sheeting.
Contact paper is useful when making stencils. It comes with an adhesive backing, so the cut-out stencil can be temporarily fixed to the product to be stenciled, which makes it easier to apply the pigment. A special cutting machine called a Silhouette Cameo can be used to cut stencils. The machine works exactly like a printer, except instead of printing out the design prepared on the computer, it cuts out the design to create a stencil. The cutting machine cuts directly on contact paper for stencils. It also cuts fabric, heavy paper and vinyl.
Stencils can be cut out of contact paper manually using a craft knife if purchasing a special cutting machine isn't in the budget. A craft knife allows for more accuracy than scissors. Print the pattern out on heavy paper, trace it onto the backing of the contact paper, and then carefully cut it out.