Do It Yourself! Make Your Own Silhouettes

Have you noticed that silhouettes are all the rage these days? I see them in magazines, on blogs, books, and the TV. I’ve priced them out a few times, only to be disappointed by how costly they can be.

In kindergarten, I vaguely remember my teacher shining a light at us while we stood by a wall with a big piece of white paper taped on it. It was so hard trying not to wiggle as she traced our shadow which we turned into a silhouette. Thank goodness things have gotten a little more sophisticated so that as we can replicate this process without the need for a large light, and trying to make a 4 year old sit still for a whole 3 minutes. Technology rocks.

Now, there is no need to spend $$$ to buy silhouettes. You can make your own!


First, grab your subjects and have them stand in front of a contrasting wall. In my case, I used a white wall, but a dark color would work just as well. Get right down on their level, as not to distort their facial features.

Take a few photos, sometimes it’s nice to have more than one to choose from.

Using your own photo editing software, size the photo to fit your chosen frame. I used two 8X10’s.

Load white cardstock into your printer, and then print away!

Next, with a steady hand, cut out your subject’s profile, being careful around facial features.

Then, my favorite part begins! Turn your silhouette photo side down onto a paper towel. Using a foam brush, apply an even layer of black tempera paint. (Any color would look great, but black is classic.)

Transfer onto a clean paper towel and allow to dry.

When it’s completely dry, cover the back of the painted silhouette with acid free adhesive. Affix onto another piece of cardstock. Allow to dry.

Then, frame ‘er up!

Can you imagine a whole wall of these?! I think I’ll need a bit more paint for that.

Wasn’t that easy? It only takes about an hour (with drying time) and costs less than a few sheets of paper and a little paint. How’s that for a good deal?!

About Emily Louise

Emily is a apron-wearing, camera-wielding, mother and pilots wife who has found her niche in discovering a reason to celebrate every day and enjoying the simple things life has to offer.
DIY Jewelry: Fabric Button Earrings
Celebrate May Day with May Baskets



  1. says

    this has always been one of my favorite crafting projects! i did it when i was little and now im so glad i get the chance to make them with my kids!

  2. says

    what a great idea – you can update them too whenever you feel like it because it’s so cheap to do. Thanks for the instructions

  3. says

    I love this! I remember making these in 2nd grade for our first communion breakfast at school. We used an overhead projector and it was so tedious. Never thought of using a camera. It opens up so many other silhouette possibilities besides portraits too.

  4. Pauline says

    Good idea – but why not do the colouring on the computer (easier to put right if you go wrong). I would pick a horrible colour (I often use lime green or purple) then change it to black when you have finished.

  5. says

    Ooh ooh ooh, I’m going to have to try this with my son, as he has the heart of an artist and would love that!!!! What a fabulous idea! Thank you,

  6. says

    Very, very cool…and if you happen to have Photoshop or Elements it’s even easier but I LOVE the way you’ve done this. So cool!!

  7. says

    Thanks for sharing this project. I’ve wanted to add a few silhouettes to my home and just didn’t know where to start. Your instructions were great!

  8. says

    Very creative. Thanks for this. Wondering if I could get the whole family to stand still. lol.

  9. says

    As I was reading your instructions it came to me that once you cut out the head you could also carefully put the outside edge over a piece of black paper (possibly construction but most likely scrapbook) for those that don’t want to do the paint.

    Great idea!

  10. says

    I made this today using your tutorial and it looks awesome!!! I’ve always wanted a silhouette of my child, and now I have one! Stop by to see it on my blog if you have time.

    Mary @ Redo 101

  11. says

    Oh my gosh. My mother did some silhouettes of us as teenagers, and her process was way more complicated. WAY. More. Complicated. Thanks for the super cute tip!

  12. says

    that is AWESOME. wonder if I could get my 2 year old to stand long enough for a picture… maybe I can do it while she’s sleeping? 😉

  13. says

    What a great idea – I love it. I remember these from when I was kid. I think this would look good in bright spring colors too – I’m thinking lime green for boys and hot pink for girls.

  14. says

    So easy! I tried this a number of years ago by tracing the shadow cast on the wall behind their heads … just try to keep a little person from squirlling around while you trace a moving shadow. This idea is a head above my attempts! :) hee, hee

  15. says

    Just took the picture of my son, can’t wait to get started with this project – I’ve always wanted a silhouette of him! Thanks for sharing how this is done!

  16. says

    Awesome project!! I absolutely adore silhouettes. When I got married in 2007, I used our silhouettes on our cake and ever since then I’ve been hooked on silhouettes.

  17. says

    I just love this idea! And can’t believe how nice it comes out. Printing onto cardstock must be the key, like you said. Though I have two kids — I don’t know what tempera paint is! Is it a special kind of paint? We use washable paint right now, but I’m guessing it’s different.

    Thank you for the great suggestion! I’m going to take my pictures today. :)

    • says

      Tempera paint is traditionally egg whites mixed with pigment, it was used as early as the middle period in Egypt to paint pictures on sarcophagi. Nowadays it is made much cheaper than acrylic or oil paint, so it is the primary choice for underpaid elementary art teachers.Washable paint (like Crayola?) is not much different, but it could be ruined by humidity or drops. A few drops of dish soap mixed in with Tempera paint will make it washable. This project would be fine with either (but washable and tempera paint would not be good choices for detailed paintings).


  1. […] Make Your Own Silhouettes | Art Projects | Homemade Mother's Day Gift – StumbleUpon Cheap. Easy. Now, there is no need to spend $$$ to buy silhouettes. […]

  2. […] got the idea and the instructions from a tutorial on SITS, but that silhouette is a classic black and white. I wanted something funkier and I remembered this […]