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 Silhouette Studio using the knife tool, you can design a PYO stencil.

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 have also started a Facebook Group, The COLORFUL Cookie-Stencil FUN for Cookiers. Please request to join if you would like to see video tutorials, ask questions, and get helpful tips.

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!


After downloading the image from Pixabay, upload it into Silhouette Studio.


Tracing the Image

Open the trace window.

Click Select the Trace Area.

Click and drag your cursor over the image to trace it.

If it needs tweaked, adjust settings to get a clean trace. When it looks good to you, click>Trace.

**Since I updated to the newest version of Studio, it will sometimes trace with a line of the image missing. I have not discovered why that is happening yet, but in this case it works out great as bridges in the image! See the pic below.


I positioned the missing line right across the window of the bus. Now those areas will be bridged during the trace. This is not how it usually works, but until I figure out why the trace feature is doing this, I am going to use it to my advantage.


Here is the traced image. Notice the bridges in the windows? You can move the png image of the bus off to the side.


 Using the Knife Tool to Bridge

For the knife tool, you will want to select the straight knife and solid cut. Uncheck Auto Apply so you can move your cut exactly where you want it before it cuts.

Start using the knife tool to place bridges where you want them. In some areas you can make two cuts next to each other and delete what you cut away.

**You can use the short cut for the knife tool by pressing K on your keyboard. Press V on your keyboard to toggle back and forth between the knife tool and the select tool.

The pics below show where I made cut lines with the knife tool to add bridges.


You will need to cut the tires off.


Cut the headlight off. It is too thick to bridge. You redesign and can add it back later if you prefer.


This pic shows several knife cut lines in place. Select the cut lines while holding down the shift key and click>Apply to cut them all at once or you can select and cut them one at a time.


I went back and added the bridges here after I realized that I had left them out. You won’t see these bridges in most of the photos, but make sure you have them or the fenders will be loose.


This is what it looks like with the cuts made.


I wanted a few more bridges, so I added more cut lines.


Select the small pieces that you cut away and delete them. Move the headlight closer to the front of the bus if you want to keep it. It looks cute without it too. You may need to use the edit points to clean up the headlight if it is uneven.


Zoom in to check for uneven areas in the image. See the uneven areas?


Double click on that section of the image and the edit points appear.


Click on edit points you want to clean up and delete them using the Edit tools in the top tool bar or in the Point Editing Panel that pops up.


That looks much better!


Here is the bus with all of the bridges(Minus the two in the fenders that I forgot!).


Now to add the lines on the side of the bus…

Insert a rectangle like the one you see just below the windows. Make it thin.


Select the rectangle.

Go to Object>Replicate>Duplicate below.


Select and move the lines apart.

Go to Object>Align>Align Left.


At this point, you can group everything you have done so far.


Now for the tires…

Insert a circle.

Duplicate the circle.


Resize the duplicated circle to fit just inside of the first circle.


Select both circles.

Go to Object>Align>Align Center-Middle.


Go to Object>Make Compound Path.


Use the knife tool to make a cut line.

Select the cut line you made and duplicate it 3 times.

Center them over the middle of the tire. You can eyeball it or use the Align Tools.

Click Apply to make the cut. This will cut the wheel into 4 parts and create the bridges.


Select the small pieces that you cut away and delete them.

Select all of the sections of the tire.

Go to Object>Group.


Go to Object>Replicate>Duplicate Right to duplicate the tire.


Resize the duplicated tire to fit inside.

Go to Align>Align Center-Middle.


Go to Object>Group to group the tire.


Move the tire into position in the back of the bus.

Duplicate the tire and move it into position in the front of the bus.


Select both of the tires.

Go to Object>Align>Align Bottom.

You can group everything together at this point.


Inserting the Text…

Choose a font that you like.

Type the words that you want to place on the side of the bus.


Resize the letters by clicking and dragging the bounding box or changing the font size. Space the letters farther apart if needed.


Use the knife tool to add the cut lines for the bridges. In this case, the O’s and the B need to be bridged. I also bridged the U and the S for stability. You will notice the first S does not have cut lines. I decided to duplicate the S that I did bridge instead of doing it on both S’s. I could have done that with the O too.


The individual letters break apart when you cut them. You can group each one of them if you prefer.


Here is are the letters with the bridges.

Select everything.

Go to Object>Group.


Here is the completed bus without the headlight! Oh well, it’s still cute without it, but I did go back and add it for the final pic so you could see it both ways.


The last thing you need to do is insert a stencil frame and group everything together. Click HERE if you need those directions.


Cutting Tip…Turn off Line Segment Overcut

Before cutting, go to the Material tab.

Under the Materials tab, click Edit Selected Material in the lower right hand side to see the settings.


Uncheck the Line Segment Overcut box.

**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 or the digital downloads that are shared 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!