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Make your own silhouettes

I just love old silhouettes. They are so old fashioned and yet, in black and white, they can have a contemporary feel in the right frame.  I have this one of my dad that was done professionally. I'll always treasure it.
But you can make a simplified version yourself.  It is a fun project and really easy!  I learned how to do these last year and did all three of my boys.  If you can trace and are handy with scissors, you can do this.
This is how you make your own silhouettes:

  • Choose a dimly lit area to work.  Hallways work great.

  • Tape a large piece of white paper on the wall. 

  • Have the person sit on a chair or stool right next to the wall.

  • Set up a table with a desk lamp a few feet away.  Make sure the bulb is bright and shining directly at the person's head.  This positioning is the hardest part to get the shadow just right.  Experiment with distances from the person to change the size of the shadow on the paper.

  • Trace around the shadow on the paper with a sharpie pen.  They will be about 12-14 inches tall.

  • Take the tracings to a copy shop and have them reduced to the size that you want.  Mine are 5-7 inches tall.  (Note: I did not change the lamp distance when doing my boy's tracings so they would show size difference according to age.  You can adjust the lamp to make them the same size if doing multiples, if you want.)  Make an extra copy once you get it right just in case you mess up later.

  • Cut the copies out carefully with small scissors. 

  • Use this as a template to trace in pencil onto black scrapbooking paper.

  • Cut out black paper.  Or you can cut both copy & black paper out at one time if you are feeling brave.

  • Glue to another piece of scrapbooking paper. I used cream colored paper with a linen finish.  Rubber cement or spray adhesive works great.  Other glues might leave ripples.

  • Mount in frames.

  • Voila!  Silhouettes created by you!
*If you are doing a silhouette of someone with long hair, it is best for it to be up off the neck in a ponytail.  It translates to paper better that way. :)

Hope you decide to give them a try.  I bet you'll like them in your home too.


  1. What a great idea! I will have to remember for when I can get my kids to sit still for more than a few seconds. :)

  2. When my sister and I were small, we had our silhouettes made by a lady at the state fair who worked with tiny scissors and paper and just looked at our profile as she cut. It was amazing that her work was not only charming, but she managed a real likeness, as well. Mother had the silhouettes framed and they hung on the wall for years.

  3. Thank you for this! My mom had my sister and my sillhouettes done years ago. I think I'll do this with my stepkids! I still have my sillhouette, and I love it! Maybe I'll do it for my husband, and have him do mine too!

  4. I think a whole family lined up on the wall would be so cute. Hope you have fun with it.
    Alice, I hope you still have yours.

  5. One of our old teachers used to do these in kindergarten...I think mine is still around somewhere. The background paper is bad, but perhaps it could be replaced. My kids never had it done..she had LONNG retired by then!

  6. Way to go Kim! These are completely awesome! I love how the simplicity of the black and white translates to timeless art. You can bet that this project will be making it's way into my house sometime soon! Thanks for sharing :)


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