Monday, June 21, 2010

TUTORIAL: Silhouettes

I love this. I absolutely love this. Of all the crafts I've made for my children, this is my favorite. Silhouettes are simple, affordable, and timelessly classy.

1. Take a profile photo of your child in front of a sunny window.

This provides a nice contrast of light and dark and helps define which line you'll follow as you cut.

2. If you're making more than one silhouette, use photo editing software to make busts the same size.

Since my photo editing software is pretty bare bones, the easiest way for me to do this was to open my photos side by side, set them to be cropped to the same size (5x7), and zoom in and out until the heads looked approximately the same size.

3. Print photo onto regular computer paper.

4. Using double-sided tape, adhere photo to black cardstock. (see notes below)

Adhere double-sided tape the the back of the photo. Use tape only on the outer edges of the paper. Do NOT use tape on the silhouette area.

Adhere photo to black cardstock.

5. Use an X-Acto knife to cut silhouette.

You're cutting through two layers at the same time - the computer paper with the photo printed on it and the cardstock.

TIP: Add eyelashes for definition. Even if eyelashes are not visible in your photo, your silhouette will look better if your subject has eyelashes to define his or her eyes.

TIP: Pay special attention to hair details in three places: the crown of the head, the forehead (bangs), and the nape of the neck.

My son had some wild hairs sticking out from the back of his head. I did a little artistic editing to smooth them out.

(I hope this doesn't destroy the big reveal at the end of the post, but it's easier to see details on the finished project than in the pictures above.)

6. Remove computer paper and clean up edges, if necessary.

After you've cut your silhouette, remove the computer paper. Use your X-Acto knife or a pair of precision tip scissors to clean up any edges.

7. If you're making multiple silhouettes, trim them to the same height.

Place silhouettes side-by-side on your cutting mat. Here the silhouette on the left is slightly taller than the silhouette on the right.

Use your X-Acto knife and a straight edge to trim height off the bottom of the bust (chest/shoulders).

Voila! Beautiful, aren't they?

If you make one, please leave a link in the comments! I'd love to see your good work. :)


  1. Great job and an excellent tutorial!

  2. I have been looking for a how-to ever since I saw them (over-priced!) on Etsy - thanks so much!

  3. I LOVE this!! I might actually do it!


  4. Oh, I would LOVE to add that wagon to the site :)

    Your tutorial was so clever . . . the last time that I tried a similar project was when my nephews were little I had them lined-up in front of paper taped to the wall so that I could trace their profiles. What a mess. Your method is perfect!

  5. Great tutorial! I've been dying to try something like this out! Thanks!

  6. So precious! I love it! Thanks for joining in on Thrilling Thursday @ Paisley Passions. Hope you can join in again next week :)



  8. Katie, thank you for leaving a link to your post. The silhouettes are beautiful! Kudos for the detail on your daughter's hair, too. I also like the idea about the's great sharing ideas in blogland because so often someone will see a way to improve things and we all benefit from it. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Thanks for posting. I've been wanting to do this with our daughters for years!! Guess what I asked for as a gift for Mother's Day? lol

  10. Beautiful...even though my children are older, I'm going to do this! Thank you for sharing!

    Tammy in Graceville

  11. Taking the picture in front of the window may be one of the best tips I've ever heard. Thanks!

  12. Thanks for the great tutorial! I followed it to a "t" and it worked great. =] Here's my link:

  13. Such a great idea, and so inexpensive. I'm home sick right now, but as soon as I can be declared "non-contagious", I'll seek to accomplish this.
    Thank you so much.

  14. Thanks for the great tutorial! I made them this weekend:

  15. I remember my teacher making them for our moms in 2nd grade for mother's day. She had us sit in a chair with a projector casting light on us and she traced the shadow on paper taped to the wall.

  16. Thanks for this simple tutorial! I made one for each of my kids and LOVE them. Friends are asking me to make them for them now.

  17. This is exactly what I was looking for as an inexpensive personal gift for the grandparents!