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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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