DIY Silhouettes: The Tutorial

As promised last week, I’m back with an in-depth tutorial on how to make silhouettes like the ones I made for the Pinterest Challenge.

This project was a lot easier than I expected it to be, and the results are fantastic – I can’t help but grin like a maniac every time I walk past the guest room now!

So, let’s get to it. To get started, you’ll need photos of all of your subjects’ profiles – something like this:

Capturing the dogs’ profiles was definitely a two person job. I had Corey stand off to the side of the camera with a treat, and give them the “watch me” command (basically, they sit still and look at you) while I took the photo. If your dogs don’t know this command, you can probably achieve the same thing by simply holding a treat right in front of where you want them to look. We had to play around a bit with how Corey was sitting, because if they looked into his eyes while he was up too high, the photo didn’t work. So, it took some trial and error but we finally got a few good photos.

Once you’ve got the photos, you’ll need some sort of photo editing software. I don’t have Photoshop, so I used Gimp (which you can download for free here), and that’s what this tutorial will be tailored to. I’m sure that if you have a different photo editing software, it will be pretty easy to translate the instructions into something that will work for you.

So – you’ve got your photos, you’ve got your photo editing software, and you’re ready to get started.

Step 1 is pretty self-explanatory – open your photo in Gimp (or whatever photo editing software you are using)

Next, click the little button that looks like a sheet of paper on the layers toolbar. This will bring up a second layer on your photo, which you can name whatever you want. Do this twice, so you end up with a total of three layers on your photo.

Next, you’ll want to have the top layer of your photo selected (I named mine “3″), and click on the “Paths” tool. It’s the second button from the left on the second row – it looks kind of like a pen with a line next to it.

Now comes the fun part. Start clicking points on the outline of your image, and the paths tool will begin highlighting it for you. Every time you click, it will create a straight line from the last place you clicked to the new place. If you keep your points too far apart, your image will turn out really blocky, so take your time and don’t be afraid to put a ton of points pretty close together.

This part will feel really tedious at first, but once you get the hang of it it’s really easy – I probably took 10-15 minutes per photo on this step. Once you’ve gone all the way around your image, connect the last point back to the first one (or as close to it as you can) and press enter to complete the path.

Now that you’ve got your outline all taken care of, you’re ready to fill it in. Select the fill tool (it looks like a little bucket) and pour the color into your silhouette. I used black, but you can change the color by double-clicking the top square of color and changing it to whatever you want.

Before you color in the background white (or whatever color you plan on using), be sure to click “Select” then “None”. If you don’t do this, you won’t be able to fill in the background, so it’s an important step!

And finally -

Now you’ll need to switch over to the middle layer (I named mine “2″), and simply use the fill tool to color in the background white, or another color of your choosing. If you’re more talented than I am with these programs, you can probably even add in a pattern to the background for a little something extra.

And that, my friends, is how you create your own silhouettes!

All that’s left to do is print ‘em out and hang them up on the wall!

I know it may look intimidating, but I promise this is an insanely easy project that you can absolutely do yourself. There are also about a million other ways that you can create a silhouette, this is just one of them.

Have fun!

Have you ever created art for your home? Tell me about it – I need ideas because my DIY art addiction is quickly growing!

8 comments

  1. Mandy says:

    The finished product looks so good!! In photoshop, there’s a tool that is magnetic to the image you’re selecting, so you don’t have to click so much. It’s super helpful for tasks like these!

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  2. Clare says:

    This is such an easy, cheap DIY, I love it! I have made a few DIY art projects. One was using different colored paint chips I cut out hearts and glued them to a white piece of paper in rows then framed it. It was hanging on our wall for a while. Now I am working on a DIY framed chalkboard to hang in my kitchen. I’m really excited about it!

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