How to Create Easy Silhouette Portraits

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Creating your own silhouette portraits is fun and easy. They are conversation pieces in your home. They also make great gifts. I created the above silhouettes for a Father's Day gift for my husband back in 2006. I am going to show you step by step how easy it is for you to crate your own.


Paper: I used Strathmore Acrylic paper. 

Paint: I like an acrylic paint with a matte finish. It drys quickly and is available in wide variety of colors. I used Folk Art's Acrylic paint in Licorice.

Brushes: A proper brush is so important to achieve a fine edge. I used a set of Folk Art's Pointed Oval brushes.


1. Photograph your subject in profile

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I used my iPhone to take a simple photo of Millie in profile. Getting her to pose was the hardest part of this entire project. Pets are almost always a two man job for the photography.

2. Print your photo 

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I printed this out on my own home printer on regular paper. If you have card stock, the extra body in the paper might make it easier to deal with when tracing later. Increase the photo to the actual size you want your silhouette. If you want a really large one, you may have to have your photo printed professionally.

3. Cut out your silhouette

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Ok this picture looks a little creepy, but this is the most important step. Carefully cutting out the outline of the profile will assure that your subject looks like the subject. To capture Millie, I had to get her subtle little wrinkles and that ginormous goodness or it wouldn't actually look like her.

4. Trace your cutout

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Now, trace your cutout with pencil.

5. Fill in with paint

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Now begin to fill in with paint. I find it easiest to start with the edge so I can get the cleanest line possible. I used black acrylic paint for this one, but a bright fun color would be fabulous too! 

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6. Frame

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Voila!!! You have your own original silhouette to display proudly!

Note - always sign and date your work. This silhouette is going back to college with my daughter and she is still deciding whether she wants a saying on the bottom like the ones above so I still have a little finishing it's not quite complete. Have Fun!!!