Silhouette Art

I've seen plenty of this pricey custom Silhouette Art around blogland lately and really wanted some...but, it's a little rich for my blood. There has to be a way to make this myself!

This is an awesome handmade Christmas gift for this year, so let's make some

Silhouette Art!


Artist canvas
Acrylic paints
Paint Brush
Transfer Paper (from your local craft store)
Digital photo

Choose a digital photo with a lighter background so the subjects stand out, like this one:

Upload it to Picnik or your favorite photo editing program to create a silhouette. Use Picnik in the following way:

Click the "Edit" tab
Click "Exposure"
Slide the "Contrast" slider to the right to create more contrast between the subjects and the background.
Now, click the "Create" tab
Last, the the "black and white" option

Your photo will now look like this:

Take your photo to your local copy center (I used Kinko's) to have your photo enlarged to the same size as your canvas. In my case, I enlarged it to 20x16 inches for right around $1.00.

Lay your transfer paper between your canvas and enlargement and trace the outline of each figure and the details you'd like to include:

You will have what looks like a rough pencil sketch when you are finished:

Fill in your sketch with the paint color of your choice. After one coat of paint your painting will look like this:

See the uneven quality of the paint that has that amateur look? We don't want that! Here's what to do - thin some of your paint down with water and apply one to two additional coats over the entire silhouette until you have an even, professional looking finish like this:

Finally, let your painting dry overnight, then thin your paint down even further using water until you have a "wash", a very watery version of your original paint. Dip a rag into the paint and "wash" the surface of your painting by rubbing small amounts of this watery paint onto the entire surface of your painting. This will soften the overall look so you don't have a stark white background.

If you accidentally apply the paint too thick, simply dip your rag into water and wipe. If you don't apply it thick enough, go over it with a few coats of the wash.

Come on back tomorrow to link up your own tutorial for Tutorial Tuesday!



  1. that is great! i have to agree they are a bit too pricey for me too:)

  2. Great tip about the paints! Never would have thought of that :)

  3. that looks SO awesome - nice job!

    That photo is pretty sweet as well. :)

  4. That looks fantastic. I may have to be brave enough to try this.

  5. This turned out so lovely! And now you've got an awesome piece of artwork featuring your favorite boys. How perfect!

  6. I love that...one more idea to add to my family art wall plan.

  7. This is awesome!! Yours turned out great!!

  8. Great tutorial! Thanks for sharing it!

  9. that is such a great project Jennifer! The actual photo is pretty awesome too isn't it? I'm sure it's one of your all time faves. Thanks for this great tutorial!

  10. oooh!!!!!!!!! I've been waiting for this!!!!!!!!! Thanks Miss!!! Of course yours turned out super cool!!!

  11. Oh my goodness! You are something of a genius! Love it!!

  12. When cute and functional meet, I always luv it. This is great, simple and easy.

  13. That turned out so great! I love silhouettes and modern artwork. I might have to try something like this. Thanks for the inspiration!


  14. Real silhouettes are hard to find, and people invest in them for the artist's signature. Kara Walker, Cindi Harwood Rose, Edouart,are the hand-cut silhouette artists to collect. But painted silhouettes before the 1700's like yours, from shadows, or drawings were quite popular. It was only in the 1700's that the scissors was invented, and authentic paper profilists called shade artists emerged.


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