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

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.


  1. 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. This is an awesome craft. Thank you very much for it! I’ve put a link to it from this article:

  3. Just finished this project and I absolutely love it! :D Thank you for the idea.

  4. 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

  5. Oh gosh, this looks fabulous! I have to try it!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. That is so cool!!

  9. super cool!

  10. SMART! I love it!

  11. 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,

  12. Love this idea. I actually had my students make them for Mothers Day last year. We did them a lil bit differently but still cool!

  13. 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!!

  14. Oh wow….I love these. I would so love to do this in our living room.

  15. awesome and she made it look easy

  16. 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!

  17. Very clever without having to be too artistic!

  18. Love it! This is one I need to do before my kidlets get any bigger!! (They are growing so fast and I do not remember telling them that was okay! ;>) :>

  19. And, when you get tired of the plain silhouette or get one from school that has a really cheap frame, try dressing it up, like this: DIY I posted on my other blog.

    I found my daughters’ old pictures from kindergarten back in the 60s (my Christmas present from them) and decided to have some fun. You can use your own color schemes.

  20. What a smart idea! And I agree that those machines are waaaay too expensive! :p

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

  22. 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!

  23. What a great idea! I’m going to try this myself.

  24. 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

  25. love it! and super easy!

  26. 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!

  27. I love this! This looks like something I can do!!

  28. This is an awesome idea! I am going to do this. In fact, this may be a great Mother’s day present!

  29. What a great idea. This is something I might even be able to do.

  30. Great ideas, thank you! And just in time for Mother’s Day!

  31. I remember doing that in like…*thinks* third grade I think? They were mother’s day things too xD

  32. 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? ;)

  33. Brilliant. Now who can I send my pics to so they can do this for me?

  34. Amazing!!! I should try this!

  35. Very nice. And EASY!

  36. That is a great idea, thanks for sharing :)

  37. 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.

  38. 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

  39. 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!

  40. Wow, that is a much more inexpensive way to get a silhouette. Thanks for sharing this!!

  41. Love this!

  42. Flashback to my childhood when these were the rage.

  43. who knew it was sooo easy!!! i love love love it.

    can’t wait to try!!

  44. 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.

  45. Very cool! I never would’ve thought of doing it that way!

  46. 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. :)

    • 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).

  47. So creative!

  48. What a great idea!!! So totally easy and doable! I thought you were going to pull out some sort of “then you do this action in photoshop.” ;) Whew. I’m in – love!!

  49. Wow… can’t wait to try it… you are very talented… love the process and the end product beautiful work…


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