A Simple 4-Step Silhouette Art Tutorial

A nostalgic craft, with a tech twist.

Remember making a silhouette of your face in elementary school? We’re bringing back this nostalgic art form, but with a tech-savvy twist. Tamara Robbins Griffith is showing you how to create beautiful silhouette art of your family in under 30 minutes!

Silhouette art is classic, and some people collect vintage pieces when they’re antiquing and thrifting, but I love when it’s personal, and I think this can also be a great holiday gift, especially for grandparents. I totally remember doing this the old school way with a projector in grade two, and was thrilled to discover how much easier it is now that we have technology on our side. But I like an old meets new approach in my decorating projects, so I sourced some vintage frames to give the project a truly classic look.


Step 1: Take some photos

I’m not using a fancy camera, just my phone but make sure that your subject is in profile, and on a clean white wall. Take your photo in front of a white background opposed to something bright and busy. It helps if their hair isn’t too messy, and if they don’t have a bulky shirt around their neck.

Next, right in the photos app, give the photo a quick edit, just to make it easier to trace. Then, your going to do two things. First is to dial up the contrast all the way and the second is to convert it to a black and white photo.


Step 2: Trace the photo

Ok, you can do this digital or analog, whatever you prefer and whatever you have handy. What I’ve done is airdrop the photo to my iPad and I’m going to actually trace over my photo using a stylus in an app called Procreate which let’s me basically create a layer on top, like virtual tracing paper. Then, after I’m done I make the photo disappear and my traced drawing can be printed out.

And what if you want to do it manually? The manual way is to take your edited photo, size it how you want it to fit in your frames, and print that. Then use the light tracing paper, taped on top, and a fine tipped pen and trace the photo. Either way, you end up with the outline of a silhouette!


Step 3: Time for arts and crafts

So now, this is like grade school, but take it slow and easy. I’m using a glue that’s not overly wet, like a glue stick, and gluing my traced drawing right onto a piece of black construction paper.

Once it is glued on, then you can carefully cut through both layers, and try to get some nuance in there like strands of hair. Be patient and don’t rush!

Adhere the black silhouette that you’ve cut out to the background, and again we don’t want a wet glue. You can use double-sided tape here or spray adhesive because it’s really just to position the silhouette on the background.

Step 4: Add a frame

I’ve used vintage frames to add to the charm. I had to get some new glass for these, but that’s an inexpensive thing to do if you find an old frame you love.


Bonus Tip: Add a name, age or date

It’s even more of a keepsake if you can document kids ages, so I’ve added that in my neat handwriting below the silhouette. But you could also ask each kid to write their own name if you want to amp up the cute factor!