It’s already time for Back to School!!

I thought a school bus PYO stencil would be a good tutorial to post for you. Paint Your Own stencils aka PYO stencils are really fun to make. They are made by adding bridges to lines in an image. If you can create bridges in Design Space, you can design a PYO stencil. In Silhouette Studio, you can create bridges using the knife tool or by subtracting shapes. I will be posting a tutorial for that software using the same school bus image.


A side note, because I get asked this question often. If you are trying to decide which cutting machine to buy for making stencils, I will say this…Cricut Design Space software is not as fancy as Silhouette Studio. The Studio software allows you to design more detailed stencils because you can trace images and use edit points to fine tune the image. The Cricut Explore Air cuts with more force than the Cameo 3. So, in my opinion, one machine cuts better and one has better software. I love both of my machines, but for different reasons.

When I started making stencils, there was very little specific information out there for designing cookie stencils. I decided I was going to learn, so I bought a Cricut Explore Air. I joined a Facebook group for cookie stencils that was helpful. I have spent many hours practicing and messing up! It is often trial and error. Realizing that only a small number of people knew how to use their machines for cookies stencils, I decided to buy a Cameo 3 as well. I wanted to learn how to use both machines to help other people learn how to design their own stencils. I have also been using a computer for a long time, so that made it a little easier for me. If you follow the blog and start playing around with the software, you will pick it up in no time. You can always email or message me any questions. I will do the best I can to help you out! 


I found the perfect PYO school bus on Pixabay. You can download it HERE.  You will need to download the png file to your computer and upload into Design Space. Just click where it says FREE DOWNLOAD. It will ask you to type in some letters to make sure you are human. Ha! Ha! In the next window that pops up,  download it in the size that is checked.

**Notice that this is a CC0 image. That means that it is free to use personally or commercially and you can make changes to it. I try to pay very close attention to copyright information on all images that I use. I am a rule follower ;0) I realize that someone can take some of the stencil images I share and use them as their own. I do share some of the stencils that I create when not in violation of copyright.  Check the Shared Stencil Files page HERE. Please use the Pixabay link to download this image and learn how to design your own stencils. Practice makes perfect!


Upload the image into Design Space.


Click Moderately complex and Continue.


1 Click inside the black lines until that is all you have left. We only need the outline of the bus.

2 Click Preview to make sure it looks correct before uploading the image into the workspace.


1 Click Save as a cut image.

2 Add some tag words to make searching easier.

3. Click Save.


The image comes in pretty big.


Oops! Ignore the word “Text” in the pic.

1 Resize the image to fit your cookie.

2 Zoom in close. It is best to bridge the image while it is the size that you want the stencil. Sometimes if you bridge when the image is large and then resize smaller, the bridges close up too much.


1 Duplicate the bus, just in case!

2 Save and name your design.


1 Insert a square for the bridges we will be creating.


The square looks like it comes in really big because we are zoomed in close.


1 Resize the square. You can see the dimensions that I made mine. 0.074 x 0.378.

2 I like to change the color to see them better.

3 Now I am going to call it a rectangle :0)

4 Duplicate the rectangle lots of times. You will need them!


1 Start moving the rectangles where you would like for the bridges to be.

2 Keep duplicating if you need more rectangles. Don’t run out. It is best to keep the same size and easier to duplicate instead of inserting a square and resizing over and over.



1 Select only the bus by clicking on it in the workspace if you can or in the layers panel.

2 Click the eye next to the bus in the layers panel to hide it.


1 Click and drag over all of the rectangles you placed over the bus.

2 Weld the rectangles.


1 Unhide the bus by clicking on the eye next to it in the layers panel.

2 Hold down the Shift key on your keyboard and click on the bus and the welded rectangles to select them.

3 Slice the welded rectangles from the bus.


1 Select and drag away the sliced areas.

2 Look over the bridges you just created and make sure they sliced well. You can delete   the extra pieces that you sliced away.

3 If not use the Undo feature until you get back to the unwelded rectangles and move     them around.

4 Reweld and slice again.


**Remember: You can only slice two images. That is why we welded the rectangles, to make them one image. So the bus is one image and the welded rectangles are one image. If you are not able to slice, you have more than two images selected. 


Now for the tires—

1 Insert a circle.


1 Resize the circle to fit in the tire area.

2 Duplicate the circle.

3 Move the duplicated circle into place.

4 Hold down the Shift key on your keyboard and click on both tires to select them and click Weld.


1 Select both the bus and the welded tires.

2 Click Slice.

3 Delete the extra pieces that you sliced away.


1 Insert a circle and resize it to fit just inside the opening.

2 Duplicate the circle, change the color if you prefer, and resize it to fit inside the larger circle.

3 Select both circles and Align>Center.



1 Slice the circles.

2 Drag away what you sliced. Keep the extra pieces to use in the next step.

Now you have the outside of the tire. Let’s create the inside.


1 Select the extra circles that you sliced away.

2 Go to Align>Center.

3 Slice.



Now you have the inside of the tire.


1 Move one circle inside of the other.

2 Select both circles.

3 Go to Align>Center>Weld.


1 Select one of the rectangles that you duplicated and resize it to fit over the tire.

2 Duplicate the rectangle and position it so that it looks like a plus sign.

3 Don’t select the tire, but select both of the rectangles and click>Weld.


1 Now select the tire and the welded rectangles. Click>Slice.

2 Delete the sliced pieces.

**I like to delete the sliced pieces when I will not be using them. The more images you have in your workspace, the more likely it is to have errors and give you a headache. I always delete what I don’t need.


1 Duplicate the tire you just created.

2 Move them exactly where you want them.

3 Select both tires and the bus.

4 Weld them all together.


Fine tuning–

Now, let’s take a look at anything that needs cleaned up. I have made some notes in the pic above of things I’d like to change.


You can see where the arrows are that there are a few places that still need bridged or things that need moved. The line that is in the center of the bus could go over to make more room for words(if you want words on the bus). The headlight needs bridged, but it is such a small opening, I decided to get rid of it altogether and add my own. I still have lots of rectangles and circles that I duplicated off to the side that I can use.

In the pic above, you can see the notes. I place the rectangles over areas that I wanted to slice. I welded the rectangles together. Selected the bus and the welded rectangles and sliced.


Here is what I ended up with. I still wanted to add a bridge to the top of the front window and clean up where I sliced the headlight.


Here is how that looked while I was working on it. I used a circle and a rectangle to slice where the headlight was. Sometimes the curve of the circle works better than the straight edge of a square.

Notice the new headlight that I am creating?


Here it is with the bridge in the window and the headlight area cleaned up.


For the headlight, slice a rectangle from a circle to make it have a flat side.


1 Move the headlight into place.

2 Select the bus and the headlight.

3 Weld them together.



You can add the lines back to the bus and weld them together or leave them off if you prefer.


Here is how it looks without words. It’s still cute!


Adding Words–

1 Click the Text tool to add text

2 Choose your font. I used Cricut Sans, which is the default.

3 Type your text. It comes in large.

4 Resize the text to fit in between the lines.


You can change the font size in the top toolbar or click and drag it. It is not indicated by an arrow, but I also used the Letter Spacing tool, next to Font Size, to scoot my letters apart just a little. They need space between them.


Once you get the letters resized, you will need to bridge them. In this case, the o’s and the B. The B is tricky because these letters have to be really small. You loose the inside of the B. So, you will need to slice the left side of it completely away to reposition with a bigger gap.

You can make the letters bigger if you don’t add the lines back to the bus image. There is more room for larger words without the two lines added back to the bus.

See more about bridging HERE.


For the B, I decided to remove the left side completely and scoot it over. You can see in the pic below how it looks.

After you get the letters bridged and moved into place, weld the letters and the bus together.

Insert a square for your stencil frame. Learn more about stencil frames HERE.

Align and Center the bus and the frame. Attach the frame and the bus.



You are ready to cut this cute School Bus PYO!

You don’t have to add words or include the lines above and below them.



If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email by clicking HERE.

**The stencil files that I share are for you to cut and use on the cookies that you make and sell. Please do not sell stencils that are downloaded from the tutorials on the blog.

Be sure to visit the online shop for cuttable stencil files! Stencils are added daily. There are several new stencils and some freebies available for download at The Colorful Cookie Stencil Studio online shop. Click HERE to take a look.

Here are links to some helpful information on the blog–






Happy Stenciling!