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!

10 Responses to how to make a silhouette (video tutorial)

  1. Shelly May 17, 2015 at 2:31 pm #

    Thank you for such an easy to follow tutorial! You made Adobe Illustrator feel so much more approachable. I was inspired to use the silhouette I created to make a tote bag as a gift for my mom for Mother’s Day. Here’s the link, in case you have a chance to check it out: http://shellymade.com/silhouette-tote-bag-tutorial/

  2. Lois Arnold April 17, 2014 at 4:25 pm #

    Hi Emily, Just wanted to let you know that I enjoyed the Illustrator class and just purchased the trial that I had downloaded to take the class. I plan to go back over and over the lessons until I can do everything without having to go back to prompt my memory. I had used an older version of AI some time ago, so some was the same, but you took me further than what I already knew how to do. Thank you for all that you do! -Lois

  3. Jo Moseley April 17, 2014 at 9:14 am #

    Sweetest little face ever! It would be fun to use the same silhouette and create several different hairstyles. Then “decorate” them with pretties and string them to make a bunting. Thanks for the fun tutorial! I remember standing in my Granny’s dining room when the afternoon sun was shining in at “the perfect time”…standing oh.so.still while Granny drew my profile. Lots of patience on both parts! That was 50 years ago. I’d give anything to have those silhouettes. We did many throughout my childhood. Sweet memories.

  4. Angela April 16, 2014 at 11:21 am #

    Love, love, love!

  5. Marlou McAlees April 16, 2014 at 8:19 am #

    hi Emily, just want to say thank you very much for the gorgeous freebies, your artwork is “amazing” blessings ♥

  6. Aja @ sevenelles.com April 16, 2014 at 6:59 am #

    Silhouette came out awesome. My question is and it’s been happening all the time. When I try to change it from black to lets say a digital scrap book paper design it keeps saying that the imagine needs to be paths or text or a group of these. But if I use this one digital paper it works just fine…but it only works with that one and I’m not doing anything different. Any tips?

    • Aja @ sevenelles.com April 16, 2014 at 7:32 am #

      Figured it out!!!

  7. Jenn @ A Simple Haven April 16, 2014 at 5:37 am #

    Love this! Pinning! And hopefully doing. ;)

  8. Aja@sevenelles.com April 16, 2014 at 5:21 am #

    Emily!! You are the bomb-diggitty!!! Super easy! 24×36 posters here we come!

  9. Aja@sevenelles.com April 16, 2014 at 5:13 am #

    Our conversation via email have have stalked your blog every morning for this! Yay off to create I go!

Leave a Reply