How-To Create a Stencil, plus Free Cut Files

Note: This is a re-post from my old Blog. Although it's a few years old, I'm still getting notified of people downloading the free files I mention in the post, so I thought I'd share it again. 😊 

Recently, I've shared a few Homemade Stencils on my Instagram Page and have gotten some requests for a how-to. Also, I've been asked if I'd be willing to share my creations. I'm happy to do so. I'm also working on a video to go with these instructions, but as I am fairly new at that, it may take a bit to put it together.

As soon as I finish it, I will add it to this post and my YouTube channel (which doesn't have anything in it yet--other than my liking a bunch of other people's videos 😜.

To start, you'll need some blank stencil pages. You can get these at your local Craft Store or online. I got mine (a 3-pack of 8x10 sheets) on Amazon (disclosure: Affiliate link used at no additional cost to you).

If you'd like to get the three stencils shown on the picture above and don't want to go through the work of making your own, skip to the end of this post for links to download them. You can import these files into Canvas and save them into your project list. Please do not sell them or share them, but send those interested to this post so they can download them. I would love to see what you create with the stencils. Leave a comment with a link to your creations.

The instructions below are for the Brother ScanNCut Canvas application. For those not familiar with Canvas, it is Brother's free web-based application to create cut files for the ScanNCut. There are plenty of tutorials on YouTube on the basic functions of the ScanNCut machine and the Canvas application, so I'll try to give as much detail as possible without repeating basic operations. Also, there may be better or different ways of doing some of the steps shown, this is just the way it works for me. Feel free to comment on any of the steps shown, I'd love to see if you have a different or better way. Some of my very favorite YouTube channels are the official ScanNCut channel, Julie Fei-Fan Balzer, and applelover53.  Ok, let's get started.

  1. Start a new Project in Canvas and add a square shape (from the basic shapes) to your work area.
  2. Now open properties and change the size to 6" x 6" (or whichever size you want your stencil to be.
  3. Now, decide which shape you want to use and select it. I used a Circle.
  4. Then you'll want to decide the smallest and largest sizes of your shape. For the circle stencil, I started with a 1/4" (0.25) diameter and stepped it up to a 1/2" (0.50). This gave me one circle in the middle and five 'rings'.
  5. Add a circle from the basic shapes and change the size to your smallest circle (in this case 0.25").
  6. Move the circle off to the side and zoom in on it.
  7. Duplicate the circle and change the size to the next bigger one (0.3")
  8. Repeat the duplicating and resizing until you have your largest circle (I used 0.5")
  9. I found this way to be easiest to start, so you just have to pick your circles, duplicate once, and place them
  10. Place the first (smallest) circle in the center of your stencil (the 6x6 square)--it doesn't have to be exact)
  11. Now, select both the square and the circle in the middle by dragging a selection box around both objects.
  12. Select Edit, center, and Edit, middle to center everything. This is your base stencil. I really wish you were able to lock these two objects at this point so they couldn't be moved accidentally--maybe Brother will add that option to a future version update (hint, hint 😊 ).
  13. Drag your next circle above the circle in the center.
  14. Duplicate it and drag it below the center circle at the same distance.
  15. While the second circle is still selected, hold down Shift and select the first circle (not the one in the middle!)
  16. Now select edit, group - you now have the starting point of your ring.
  17. Move your mouse over the green dot at the top of the selection box --don't click on it yet!
  18. While holding down the ALT key click on the green dot and drag left (or whichever direction is most comfortable for you) then release the mouse (not the ALT key)
  19. Repeat the previous step until you fill the circle or you have however many circles you like. (Oh, and you can let go of the ALT key now 😜)
  20. Now repeat steps 13 through 19 for the other rings. You now--grab the next circle, duplicate, group, rotate/copy...
  21. After you created all the circles and rings you want, click anywhere on the square (not the circles) to select it, then right-click and select Send to Back. This is important for the next step.
  22. Now drag an outline around everything so both your square and all the circles are selected.
  23. Select Edit, Subtract (this will punch the circles through the underlying square, making the stencil).
  24. To check that the previous step was done correctly, select the stencil (it should be one object now), click on Properties and fill it with any color. See the images below for some screen shots of the process.

That's it! Ok, I know it looks like a lot of steps, but I wanted to give enough detail to follow along. That, and I might have rambled a bit 😉. Trust me, once you got the ALT, click, rotate steps down, you can use any shape you like to make other stencils.

If you don't want to go through the work of making your own, you can download the cut files (.fcm) below. Enjoy 😊. Oh, and don't forget to leave me a comment if you found this how-to useful.

Circle Radial

Brick Wall

Big Raindrops

You can also find these and others on the Downloads page.


Click on the Thumbnails below for a bigger view

Steps 1 and 2, create and resize stencil square

Step 3 - pick a shape
Select opposites

Grouping opposite circles
Copying your group

select all objects

One complete circle