something about silhouettes

sil·hou·ette: a two-dimensional drawing of a the outline of a person’s face filled in with a solid color, usually black.

Grace-Silhouette_for-blogSilhouettes are back! — This striking and familiar black-and-white art is making a comeback. Silhouette art has charmed us for centuries and thanks to a creative new generation of designers it’s appearing everywhere from home decor to stationery to  personal adornments. Not a bit of the old charm’s been lost in translation.

I love silhouettes because they are so personal. They are portraits, really. The lack of details like color and shading makes the portrait even more intimate. The viewer is drawn to look more closely at the shape of the subject’s features, the tilt of the head, or the way a stray lock of hair curls.

This type of art is the epitome of a simple gift and is great for a tight budget. I know what the grandparents, aunts and uncles are getting for Christmas! A sentimental keepsake of my child’s likeness. To top it off (literally), I’ve been inspired by a great tutorial from Rachel at Lines Across, to make paper gift bows made from my toddler’s scribbles.

Do you remember making silhouettes in grade school? I do! No scissors and construction paper needed for this project. I’m going to create the silhouette using a profile photo taken with my digital camera and Photoshop.

First, take your profile photo(s), trying to eliminate as much shadow under noses and chins as possible. I have found that using a strong natural light (like sunlight) shining right on the subject works well. Flash works best when shot at the exact same height as your subject, but sometimes it can be too much, washing out important features. The beauty of digital cameras is that you can take several shots and chose the best. Have more than one subject? Be sure to maintain the exact same distance from each of your subjects so that they are in perfect proportion should you want to do a group study. A tripod is also extremely helpful.

Second, use Photoshop to create a basic silhouette. Don’t have Photoshop? Download a free 30 day trial of Photoshop from Adobe. Here’s how to do it using a technique that will give you the freedom to resize the silhouette as needed without any loss of image quality.

And finally, fill the silhouette or the background with a fun color or pattern to create interesting designs.


The possibilities are endless! Get working on your silhouettes!! Get them printed out at the local copy shop, find an appropriate frame and then you have a unique gift for any occasion.


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