A related technique (which has found applicability in some surrealist compositions) is aerography, in which spray-painting is done around a three-dimensional object to create a negative of the object instead of a positive of a stencil design.This technique was used in cave paintings dating to 10,000 BC, where human hands were used in painting handprint outlines among paintings of animals and other objects.In Europe, from about 1450 they were commonly used to color old master prints printed in black and white, usually woodcuts.Stencils were used for mass publications, as the type did not have to be hand-written.Stencils were popular as a method of book illustration, and for that purpose, the technique was at its height of popularity in France during the 1920s when André Marty, Jean Saudé and many other studios in Paris specialized in the technique.Low wages contributed to the popularity of the highly labor-intensive process.When stencils are used in this way they are often called "pochoir".
Also well known for their use of stencil art is Blek le Rat and Jef aerosol from France, British artist Banksy, New York artist John Fekner, world traveling artist Tavar Zawacki f.k.a.
Although aerosol or painting stencils can be made for one-time use, typically they are made with the intention of being reused.
To be reusable, they must remain intact after a design is produced and the stencil is removed from the work surface.
During screen printing and mimeography, the images for stenciling are broken down into color layers.
Multiple layers of stencils are used on the same surface to produce multi-colored images.
Stencils have also become popular for graffiti, since stencil art using spray-paint can be produced quickly and easily.