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How To Make a Simple Silhouette Picture

Antique silhouettes, in today’s decor, are considered elegant artifacts of times past. Historically, owning a piece of artwork was the prerogative of the rich, so limners, or portraitists, created paper cut, black and white silhouettes to make portraiture more accessible to the poor, rural and less sophisticated. In fact it was known as the poor man’s miniature”. They were displayed prominently in the home and considered very desirable. The year 1840 brought with it a new invention, the daguerreotype, which caught on quickly as the hot new trend of its time, and rendered obsolete the quaint art of silhouette picture-making. With updated techniques, silhouettes are making a comeback. More and more people are hiring others, or learning themselves, to make these elegant portraits.

Things you need:
Fine-tipped paintbrush
White Apple Barrel acrylic paint
Heavy black permanent marker
Black, fine felt-tip marker
Black acid-free paper
White or ivory acid-free paper, pre-trimmed to fit the picture frame
Small, sharp scissors
Hobby knife and replacement blades
Cutting mat
All-purpose spray adhesive
Picture frame

Things to do:
1. First things, first, please make sure you are working in a well ventilated area. Take photographs of your subject in profile. A plain background is best. Backlight your subject for greater contrast and don’t use the camera’s flash. Print or develop the photos.
2. Using the fine-tipped brush, paint the photo background with the white acrylic paint and allow it to completely dry.
3. Fill in the image with the black permanent marker. Use the black felt-tip marker to exaggerate small details like eyelashes, bangs, curls, hats, jewelry, etc.
4. Photocopy the photo and carefully cut out the image with the hobby knife or small scissors, taking special care around the smaller details.
5. Use the cut-out as a template to trace the image onto the black acid-free paper. Use the hobby knife to cut out the new image.
6. Apply spray adhesive to the back of the image and carefully center and affix it to the white acid-free paper. Smooth out any creases or bubbles with a credit card or your fingers. Allow image to fully dry before framing.


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