Personal Photo Silhouettes

By  Marissa Bowers 

  • Personal Photo Silhouettes
  • Closeup View


  • Digital camera
  • Computer
  • Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements
  • Digital scrapbook paper for background
  • Printer
  • Paper
  • Frame
  • Photograph of your silhouette subject
  • Black cardstock
  • Scrapbook paper of choice (background)
  • Frame
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • 1. Designer and photographer Marissa Bowers admits she's long admired the silhouettes that grace the walls of antique malls. Their solid graphic appeal combined with the history of "framing" a moment in time of a person's characteristics has always intrigued her. She itched to make some of her own children's outlines at certain stages of their growing lives. One day she ran across a yard sale that had the perfect frames, reminiscent of the ones silhouettes were placed in long ago and that had graced the walls of the antique malls she admired. Finding these frames motivated her to sit down with the project and make it happen.
  • 2. Since she has a design background, she chose to do her silhouettes in a digital scrapbooking fashion and use a quick photograph to begin the work of outlining the kids' features. If you have a digital camera, Photoshop Elements and a printer you can do this project completely digital. But, you can also choose to do it with a printout of the same photograph and black cardstock, giving it "paper appeal" for an even more realistic, aged feel.
  • Digital Method
  • 1. Take a side profile snapshot of your subject against a white or beige wall.
  • 2. Download image to computer and open it in Adobe Photoshop Elements.
  • 3. Using pen tool with black as your color fill, make a new layer over your photograph layer and trace outline of your subject's face, head and neck area. Most silhouettes end around the neckline area, you can choose how much of the neckline area you want to show.
  • 4. Pay special attention to tracing small details of the subject's features that you will want to remember in the years to come, like details of loose hair, wavy hair or a particularly different shaped nose or mouth feature. Using the photograph as a guide place special attention on different features that will make your photo timeless, classic and true to the form of your subject's facial shape at that time of their life (especially great for children!).
  • 5. If you have access to other digital scrap paper backgrounds, pick a fun pattern to put behind your outlined silhouette. (Note: For an aged look, Marissa used a cream cardstock - like aged background to put in a layer behind the silhouettes she traced.)
  • 6. Delete photo layer once you have finished your silhouette layer and have added in your background paper layer. Flatten the file and save.
  • 7. Resize image to fit chosen frames and print.
  • 8. Fit and cut printed image to frame, and hang.
  • Paper Method
  • 1. Print out a photograph, taken from a side profile snapshot of your subject against a white or beige wall. Make sure the photograph is sized to the proportion of the frame that you want to put your silhouette in.
  • 2. Cut out photograph following subject's profile, just as you want to see it in silhouette.
  • 3. Use photograph template as a guide to cut out the same shape on black cardstock. Take important note of little features like loose hair, wavy hair, curls or unique shape to the face when tracing and cutting out the features on the black cardstock.
  • 4. Adhere silhouette to the center area of your already cut-to-frame scrapbook paper that you are going to use as your background. Let dry and then insert your artwork into the frame.