art · Children · Crafting · crafts · photography · photoshop

How to Make a Silhouette Portrait

I have always loved silhouette portraits. I imagined them on the walls of old Victorian era homes, filled with generations of families. There’s something so simple about them. But while we may not live in the Victorian era, and there are new cutting machines that make this a breeze, I felt it was something that needs to be done by hand. Well, mostly by hand!

You will need :
  • A recent digital image of the subject, facing sideways, of course.
  • Photo editing software, I used Photoshop.
  • Printer and plain paper
  • Black paper
  • Lovely textured and toned paper
  • Pen-knife / X-Acto blade
  • Cutting mat
  • Soft Pencil, I used a white coloured pencil
  • Glue Stick
  • Frame to display it!

I started by taking H&W (after a nap for the cute bed head look) and photographing them side on against a white wall.

How to make Papercut Silhouette Portrait Cameos -

Then taking the images into photoshop, I resized them to fit into the frames I had, which were A4 size. Of course, I had to do a little extra resizing because I wanted their head sizes to be about the same. (sigh. Twin-Issues)

Then, using the Lasso Tool, because I am an old school Photoshopper like that, I traced around the edges of their heads and torso. There are lots of tips and tricks about using the Lasso Tool online, but if you need help with it, email me 🙂 You can get as detailed as you like, but remember, you will be cutting this later with an X-Acto knife.

Below is a screen shot of how close I was willing to go outlining the hair.

How to make Papercut Silhouette Portrait Cameos -

Once, you are happy with your outline, create a Solid Colour Layer from the Layer Menu. This is an editable layer that you can tweak and add and get rid of bits you do not want. Then add another of white to get rid of the background.

How to make Papercut Silhouette Portrait Cameos -

And Print!

Now, you can take the printed silhouettes and carefully cut them away from the white background. Use your X-Acto and your cutting mat, carefully and as detailed as you can.

How to make Papercut Silhouette Portrait Cameos - hellovanhulst.comTake the black cutouts, place them on the actual black paper, and trace around them, softly, leaving a white or pencil outline.
How to make Papercut Silhouette Portrait Cameos - hellovanhulst.comCut these out with your X-Acto (yes, again) in the same way you did the printouts.

Once you are finished this this, gently use an archival-friendly glue stick on the back of the cut out silhouette and place on your lovely textured and toned paper.

How to make Papercut Silhouette Portrait Cameos -
I ended up turning Willem’s cutout around in the end so they were facing the each other.

Pop in the frame and Ta-da!!! Classical Silhouette Portrait complete!

How to make Papercut Silhouette Portrait Cameos - hellovanhulst.comI think these are just so super sweet and definitely on the annual “To Make” list.

Have you done one? I’d love to see how yours looks! Don’t forget to try different colours and papers for a little uniqueness!

Happy Crafting!


How to make Papercut Silhouette Portrait Cameos -

2 thoughts on “How to Make a Silhouette Portrait

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