Apps for Architects: Meet Stencil, the World’s First Digital Stencil for Architects

Pat Finn Pat Finn

Stenciling goes all the way back to the beginning of art history, predating even the paintbrush. Cave paintings from 35,000 years ago feature hand tracings of prehistoric humans made with blown pigment. Through the millennia, the technique has waxed and waned in popularity and prestige, perhaps reaching its apex during the Edo period in Japan (1603 to 1868), when stencils were used to produce intricate textile designs.

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Right now, we happen to be in the midst of another boom time for stencils, as graffiti artists such as Banksy have utilized the simple technique to make their marks in cities across the world. “Here we witness, through art, the power of stencils delivering rigorous detail with extreme efficiency; an almost perfect optimization of craft, process and drama,” says Toru Hasegawa, the co-creator of the app development company Morpholio.

Hasegawa and the rest of the team at Morpholio have created a digital tool that makes stenciling easier than ever before. Now, anyone with a tablet can turn parts of ordinary images into stencils, which they can then overlay anywhere they would like. Stencil, created to work within popular app Morpholio Trace, makes the labor-intensive techniques of Banksy virtually effortless.

For architects drawing on the go, creating graphic trees, people, intricate facade patterns and other repetitive elements within your plans and elevations is given a satisfying new feel. Like a real-world masking tool, Stencil also allows you to use color gradients to give your digital drawings more depth with light and shadow.

“Creating stencils sits perfectly between the architect’s sketch and the quick photo,” explains Mark Collins, co-creator of Morpholio. “You’re trying to capture something — a texture, pattern or detail that you want to use. Sketching is great but slow. Taking a photo buries it in the photo album. Generating a stencil automatically creates an incredible tool that you can utilize in various ways. The stencil is the quickest path to distill an image into an actionable idea.”

In addition to the central, stencil-making tool, Trace contains several other features that make it a serviceable image-editing program in its own right. For instance, the app includes eight different pen types, including pencil, charcoal, marker and brush. Users are able to play with color and texture as they utilize the stencil feature to create rich, multilayered images. The possibilities are virtually endless.

In a promotional video for Stencil, Morpholio shows various uses for the product, which range from the whimsical to the highly functional. While ordinary users might enjoy stenciling MOM tattoos onto Michaelangelo’s David, architects will surely appreciate the ease in which the product allows them to reproduce aspects of floor plans that appear multiple times within the design. In any case, the app is a welcome development for all creative types who utilize tablets.

Images courtesy of Morpholio

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