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Bridges and Islands in Stencil Design
Bridges and Islands in Stencil Design

Our principles around designing stencils and the difference between stencils that use bridges and those that don't.

Kath Ramirez avatar
Written by Kath Ramirez
Updated over a week ago

What is a stencil bridge?

A bridge is a part of a stencil's design and can be used for stability. Bridges connect floating elements called islands and keep them attached to the rest of the stencil. Bridges are also needed to accurately depict details in lettering, faces or logos. Sometimes they can be removed, adjusted or concealed for minimal visibility.

Bridges in Stencil Lettering

Here’s an example of how lettering can vary when bridges are used:

Stencil Bridge vs. No Bridge Diagram - Why Stencil Lettering Looks So Weird

The upper row of lettering doesn’t include bridges. The inner parts - the islands - of letters A, B and D are gone. Excluding bridges in fonts and logos can be a nice graphic design element. However, including bridges allows for more accuracy and detail, as seen in the bottom row of lettering in the above graphic.

Bridges and Islands in Small Stencil Designs

Size is another factor when adding bridges to a stencil design, as shown in this stencil we made for Victoria’s Homemade Cake in South Florida. Because of its size, the original logo submission is different from the final stencil design.

Homemade Cake Logo Into a Stencil Design - Bridges and Connectors Make Stencils Look Weird

Bakery Logo Stencil Design - Why Stencils Look So Weird

Some of the stencil’s features are different since it’s only 1 x 1 inch, which is among the smallest stencils we make. So extensive bridging to connect the insides of the letters is not included.

Here's what the size of a potential bridge for this stencil design would be:

Small Bridge Size Example - Keep Letters and Design In Place

That’s a bridge size of .05 inches, or 5 hundredths of an inch. We only include details that tiny if they are specifically requested by a customer. Small areas like this can reduce a stencil’s durability because these areas aren’t as stable as a .25” bridge or even a .1” bridge. One snag while moving the stencil could rip the bridge and the stencil would be unusable. Therefore, all islands in this design were simply blocked out in both the text and whisk in the upper part of the logo.

Ready for your own custom mylar stencil? We can accommodate almost any stencil size and shape.

Concealing Bridges in a Stencil's Design

We made this stencil for decorating the top of lattes and other foamed coffee drinks for an event with Nike at the Dallas Cowboys Headquarters.

Cowboys and Nike Art and Stencil Design - Why Stencils Look So Weird

Note where the bridges are in the Cowboys star logo. They’re not cutting off the middle of the outer border of the star like this one does. Instead, the bridges are flowing with the visuals of the design and are tucked into spaces where they appear to fit.

Dallas Cowboys Logo Stencil Design

Ready for your own coffee stencil? They're a creative way to showcase your company, brand or event on many types of foam-topped beverages.

If you're still confused, we’re here to help! Holler at us if you want to know how we’d approach designing your logo or image, or if you have any questions.

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