Using a Template
When I first started string art, I used images that I liked and placed the nails by eye. Without fail some of my nails ended up too far from each other or too close to each other.
I started making my own templates on my computer and soon realised that the extra planning showed in the end product. As a beginner I was happy to practise by finding images I liked on Pinterest, but as I improved I wanted to put my own spin on designs.
Here are some tips I've picked up along the way.
Cut out your template as close to the hole marks as you can. It's much easier to position on the base without all the extra paper. I've lost count of the times I removed a template, just to realise that that the image wasn't straight.
Avoid placing templates by eye alone. Make use of whatever you might have around to measure before you start adding pins or nails.
This image doesn't show it well unfortunately, but I found that masking tape isn't that great at holding templates down. I like to add a pin/nail at the top and one at the bottom to do this.
For most of my work I use sequin pins and insert them using pliers. To make it easier I have made a pencil mark to show where the head of each pin should sit. This way I can be assured that I am pushing them all in about the same amount.
If you are using pliers and pins, hold the pliers in your dominant hand and support behind it with your other hand. Pins bend easily and this gives you more control.
When you want to remove the template, its easier if you list all the sides first. The pins/nails going through it are holding the paper down, but if you can loosen them first this process is much easier.
You may even be able to pop it off the top without ripping it - this doesn't serve much purpose unless you want to keep the template for reference or reuse, but it's very satisfying nevertheless.