Quoted from mof:
I would greatly appreciate learning more about stencils.
I'd like to learn what makes them GOOD and what makes them BAD.
If you can document what issues you've had, it would greatly help the 100's of us who are about to do our first ever stencil job, and we want to know what to look out for.
I am sitting on 4 sets of stencils, how can I begin to check to learn if what I have is accurate or not?
Some quick notes
Don't sand off the original paint until you verify that the stencils you received are correct.
Remove the side rails (and everything else on the outside of the cabinet) to acheive the best results.
Verify the colors and color order when you receive the stencils. Verify the left and right sides by comparing to pictures on the IPDB. Most of the time lighter colors should be the first colors sprayed, but this might vary by game.
Verify how you are going to align each layer to the previous layers. Is it going to be on a specific corner of the cabinet. Mark it somehow and don't forget which one you used. Note that some stencils might have voids on the edges (look at the front edge on a Bally Playboy)
Visualize the stencils before applying the first set. Check out where the shooter rod and coin door and start button line up on the coin door side. Sometimes lining up a corner of the stencil to the corner of the cabinet does not put these in the correct spot. Sometimes this isn't obvious until you try to put on the second color so double check the locations of the objects on both colors.
Double check them before applying. I have seen left and right mixed up many times, I've seen coin door stencils put on upside down.
On larger stencils sometimes it is easier to cut them up into 2 or 3 or more smaller pieces and this will allow you to line up each smaller section for better accuracy.
After applying the second color stencils look to see where any errors in overlap are where the base color might show through where it's not supposed to, trim the stencil with an Exacto blade to fix this.
Also study the stencil and look for things that overlap between the 2 different colors where you can trim off the stencils on the first color. The best example of this is on the purple on the shooter springs on Playboy. Both the CA and TP stencils have little loops cut out of the purple where the black springs are going to be. The black will cover over the purple just fine, so don't leave in all the loops, just cut across on the purple layer so that you have a straight line and let the black define the spring edges.
On application, let each color dry for several days up to a week before applying the next color.
Spray several light coats on the stencil colors waiting 10 minutes between coats, and peel up the stencil immediately after the last coat while the paint is still wet. Never let the paint dry with the stencil still on.
Don't try to peel the stencils off the cabinet while in direct sunlight. Some stencil material grips really well and this will soften up and peel up the paint underneath.
When peeling the stencils in cold weather the stencil material is brittle and will break apart.
When peeling the stencils watch our for long skinny parts that are about to pull free, nothing worse than having it almost all the way off and having the stencil fall back into the cabinet on the wet paint.
Some notes on good and bad stencils.
Good stencils have proper bleeds so that the later layers lay slightly over the edges of the previous layer so that there are no gaps between them where the base coat can show. This allows for some minor alignment error when applying the stencils (pinball pimp shows examples of this one their Pinbot stencils on their website) Worse stencils are done line to line with no overlap so that you need to have the precision of 1/64" to not have the base color show through. (this is the standard for CA and TP)
Better stencils are made of lighter colors that you can see through so that you can properly align them to the previous layers. Worse ones are dark blue.
Better stencils have the right amount of adhesion so that you can pull up and reapply them several times until you have the best alignment.(I like the adhesion of the blue ones from Twisted Pins, but some people thing they have too much grip) Worse ones barely stick the first time and blow off as you spray the paint (Classic Arcades).
Better stencils match what is on the game, Worse ones reverse images when they aren't supposed to (TP High Speed). Or even worse yet, the layers don't align correctly to the prior layers ( I have seen this on the white layer on a CA High Speed stencils where the text aligned but the cop car lights are in the wrong spot. I believe CA has a repetitive problem of not sizing their stuff correctly (like maybe they forgot to check the box on the printer where it says print true size and instead it prints to fit the paper. I have seen insert decals from them printed at 90% of the correct size (Banzai Run). I've seen cabinet decals printed at 110% of the correct size (just the coin door side of Banzai Run cabinet decals).