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diy painted silhouette

Today is a continuation from yesterday’s post about how to create a silhouette. You can use your vector silhouette for many different things (stationery, a tote bag, necklace, web graphics) but today I’ll show you how I made these large framed painted silhouettes that line our staircase.

(nevermind the snowflakes … this photo was taken during Christmas when the kids thought it would be extra festive to tape coffee filter snowflakes all over the wall. It actually turned out to be my favorite Christmas decoration and it was a sad day when we pulled them all down).


This tutorial shows you the exact method I used for making the large prints, only done on a smaller scale. The beauty of a vector graphic is that you can blow it up as large as you need without losing clarity – so select a frame and an approximate silhouette size and you can enlarge your silhouette to that size before printing.

Okay, here’s what you’ll need:


frame / printout of silhouette / good paper / pencil / black craft paint / small paintbrush

Let’s talk about the printout for a second. In Illustrator, you can format your silhouette on an artboard set to the desired size. In this case, the frame opening is 6×4 so I made my artboard that size. Then I resized the silhouette of audrey to fit within and gave it a stroke (rather than fully filled in just to conserve ink when printing). For both this little print and the large ones on my stairs, I added text. Set it to the size you like before printing.

You could just print on nice paper and frame as is. This is a great option especially if you are making them poster size. Send them to a local printer to print on large paper, put them in a frame (ikea has inexpensive big ones) and you are set. I wanted to go one step further with mine and give them more of a handmade look by painting them. So I’ll show you how that is done.

STEP ONE // transfer silhouette to good paper


begin by flipping over your printout and scribbling along the outlines.


Now flip your paper back over, center over the good paper and trace the printout lines (it helps to use a freshly sharpened pencil). The lead you scribbled on the back of the paper acts like graphite paper and will leave a faint outline of your original printout. This is such a simple method for transferring artwork. Tip: if you are transferring to dark paper, use chalk on the back instead of lead.

STEP TWO // paint


I used regular acrylic craft paint and two different brushes. Let dry for a few minutes.


STEP THREE // frame


center your painted artwork in mat and tape to hold in place. Washi tape is great for this because it removes easily if you need to adjust the art.


And you’re finished.


Just for fun, I embellished this little silhouette with a mini headband cut out of scrapbook paper.


Assorted flowers and leaves glue-sticked on because, why not?!!


Hope this inspires you to create some silhouettes for your home! Don’t feel limited to children’s faces … try doing one of your dog or cat, a favorite landmark, or a special photo that can be transformed into a silhouette.

And don’t forget that registration for the next Simplified Graphic Design class begins Monday April 21st at 6am pacific. Last time it sold out in less than 24 hours, so make sure you grab your spot quickly! You can learn more about the course and what it will do for you here.


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how to make a silhouette (video tutorial)

(via country living)

Silhouettes are one of those classic art pieces that never go out of style … but are particularly in right now. They have been for a while, I suppose, but I’m still in love and think they’ll be around for years to come.

One of my favorite things in our house are these four large silhouettes of our kids going up the stairs. The snowflakes are not usually there – this photo is from Christmas, but you get the idea. Many of you have asked for a tutorial for how I made these large pieces so today and tomorrow I’ll be showing you how.

First up, is making the actual silhouette. There are so many different ways to do this but I prefer to create a vector image in Illustrator that can be blown up or made tiny without losing any of the clarity.  Because sometimes it is easier to just watch the process, I made a video for you:

If you don’t have Illustrator, you can probably accomplish a similar effect using a different photo editing software (or try this method), but you may not be able to enlarge without it becoming pixelated. I’m obviously a big fan of Illustrator and find so many different uses for the program. If you’ve been wanting to learn it, join our class! The next Simplified Graphic Design course opens up Monday April 21st. Last time it sold out in less than 24 hours, so make sure you grab your spot quickly! You can learn more about the course and what it will do for you here.


Tomorrow I’ll be back showing you how to turn your digital silhouette into finished artwork worthy of hanging on your walls. For now, start creating silhouettes!

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free hand-drawn easter clip art

Have you noticed that cute, free clip art is hard to find? I’ve decided to put my drawings to good use and turn them into mini collections of clip art you can use to make note cards or invitations or little prints for your family and friends.

The first set of clip art had a celebration theme (see it here).  This new collection is extra-cutesie with bunnies and chicks and swirly writing … and just right for Easter.


I first sketched with pencil, then over with my favorite fine-tip pen (this one), erasing the pencil marks with a good eraser (like this). I then scanned the drawings and saved each one as a .png file (the process is the exact same as turning my watercolor paintings into digital artwork – shown in this tutorial).

Then I went an extra step – partially to show you what you can do with clip art + digital paper and partially because I love creating art like this adding color and pattern to individual parts of a few doodles.


The boy & girl bunnies are my faves … I want to make them into stuffed toys!

The collection of clip art (both the black & white and colorful) is yours for free. Just download the zip files, unzip and each drawing is ready to use with a transparent background.

If you’d like to make some changes on your own to the size or color, here’s a short video showing you how. I use the previous collection of celebration clip art, but the methods are the same for the new easter art as well.

So fun, right?! If you’re totally lost, hang tight. I show you all of these steps again, and in better detail and a little slower in my new graphic design course.

Registration for the next beginning graphic design class opens up on Monday April 21st (the first round sold out in less than 24 hours, so make sure you’re ready to sign up right when it opens!). Read more about the Simplified Graphic Design class here.


To download the clip art, log in or sign up for the archive where all of our freebies and downloads are stored for easy access (click the image above).


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