Since I’m trying to make most of my holiday gifts this year, I decided to make silhouettes of our children. I went with a traditional interpretation, but you could use colored papers, do full-body action silhouettes, add design elements to the background, make your portraits face one another, or any number of other creative things.

I’ll give the step-by-step process because this is a project that anyone can do, though it was a little tedious.


-digital camera

-acid free craft paper for silhouettes and background


-sharp scissors

-acid-free spray adhesive

Step 1: Take a photo in profile. Upload this to the computer and re-size to the size that you’d like your silhouette to be (I made mine 5″ high on an 8″ square background). I used photoshop, but I’m sure that you could do this in other photo programs.

Step 2: Print image and trace the outline of the profile (I did this with a sharpie so it came through the paper and I could get an idea from the back side of what it would look like). I then cut out this image. Now is the time to make changes. I added the eyelashes because you couldn’t really see them in my photos and I embellished the hair-dos. I first made the silhouettes of Eva without the bow and realized she looked like Darth Vader so had to start again. My children have very straight hair, but curls would be so pretty in a silhouette and you would not be faced with the helmet-head problem.


Step 3: Tape cut-out photo to silhouette paper and cut around the edges (or you could just trace the design onto the back). Now is the time to think about which way you want your silhouettes to face. I read somewhere that the secret to cutting details and curves is to move the paper and not your scissors. This is good advice. I cut off several eyelashes and had to start again. Do those first in case you screw them up. Also it helps to cut off the bulky pieces of paper first to make your cutting more manageable.

Step 4: Spray adhesive to back of silhouette and place on backing paper. Frame them up and — voila! — a great gift for the family that you can enjoy for years.


This project took me several hours. Just be sure that you are relaxed and able to concentrate during the cutting stage as this is the most difficult part. Mine did not turn out perfectly, but I am pleased with the end result, especially since they are my children’s sweet little faces (you can see that my two-year-old sucks her bottom lip). How sweet!

3 Replies to “Silhouettes”

  1. i did something similar a while ago but I resized them so they could fit into a locket 🙂 if i had kids i would totally display them the way you have it too! 🙂 great tutorial!

  2. i do these teh old way where the person sits in front of you and you cut on special paper covered with a ruff surface on front and white paper on the back. And there are special scissors too that come from Germany you will get better results as these are nice but not much detail in them.
    here are some examples with a little more detail. Great tutorial for beginners as this is somewhat a dying art the way I do it so this is a good way to get people interested in the old art.

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