Friday, March 20, 2009

Silhouette Tutorial.


I searched the internet for easy instructions on how to turn a photo into a silhouette using my Adobe Photoshop Elements program. I was disappointed that I couldn't find directions that I could easily follow - so I came up with my own!

Tools to remember:

Pre-step: The biggest step to turning your photo into a silhouette is to find the perfect photo. Cici's ballet recital made an easy option for me. Open your desired photo which will be labeled to the right under the layers section as background. To work more easily with the photo, right click the layers section and click duplicate layer. Then be sure to click the "save as" under file as not to ruin the original photo.

Step 1: The photo you would like to silhouette should ideally should be against a solid background. Either way the same step applies, but the work on a non-solid background will take you longer.

Place the The Retangular Marquee Tool the head of the photo leaving enough room on all sides. Once the tool is around the face click Cntl+C to copy and Cntrl +V to paste (you can also do this under the edit menu. Delete the original photo leaving only the part to silhouette, then new layer filling it as a white background with the Paint bucket.

Step 2: Make sure the photo is on top of the white background. Click the Magic Wand Tool to the left of the screen and click on the background of the photo. Delete the contents within the Magic Wand only if the the want elements stop right at the edge of your desired silhouette area. If the wand goes into the hair or face of the photo, click off the Magic Wand so that you do not delete the integrity of the intended silhouette.

Step 3: Continue to use the Wand or the Marquee tool to erase as much of the background as possible, again without loosing integrity of the desired silhouette area.

Step 4: Once the Wand can no longer be used, click the eraser and your desired eraser size making sure the background is "white". Start from the outer corners erasing anything that did not get erased using the Wand.

Step 5: Click the zoom button to allow you a better look at the lines of the profile. Carefully smooth the edges using the eraser all the way around the silhouette.

Step 5: After carefully removing the background and smoothing the lines of the photo you are ready to create the darkened silhouette.

Step 6: Go to Menu,


Adjust Color,

Adjust Hue, Saturation.

Step 7: Under the Hue/Saturation Menu look notice the Hue, Saturation, and Lightness arrows. Take the Lightness arrow and move it all the way to the right. You will see the photo turn completely black. If the background had not been deleted, you would not be able to see the silhouette. Click OK.

Step 8: From here you can either use the Paint or the eraser button to smooth the lines of the silhouette. Either tool will do the job. I like to rotate from eraser to paint (make sure that the paint is black) to work on the inside of the silhouette or the outside - using the eraser tool.

Step 9: This step is purely optional. You can leave entire profile or round the bottom out by adding an circle to the bottom of the photo. You can leave this layer un-merged or merge it with the profile photo to make a complete and finished profile.

I hope that this tutorial was easy to understand. I would love to hear your questions so that I may make this a tutorial that can be easily read. If you are interested in a silhouette, but not all the work and I do the work for you. By sending me your photo, I can process it into a silhouette and send it back to you in digital form so you can use it whenever you'd like! THe processing fee, which includes your own digital copy is $15.00 for 1, $25.00 for 2. Again, I hope that you have the tools to do this on your own, but if you don't - I would love to help! Email me at

What do you think?
Have you tried making one before?
What crafty thing would you do with your own digital silhouettes?


Christy said...

This is so great! I just got photoshop elements but don't know really how to use it yet. I've fooled around with it a bit but I think this a tutorial I'll be able to actually use! Now I better go and take some silhouette pics!

Jenny said...

This is great, I have never gone looking, but always wondered how to do this. I am going to add it to my list of projects.

Marie said...

So classy and beautiful

linda said...

Thank you for the tutorial Michelle...this is something that looks so hard but might not be so scary with your great instructions!

It's so funny that you just left me a comment because I was thinking about you not even 30 minutes ago! I didn't know if you still had this site and was going to email your sister and find out. Glad to know that A Happy Heart is still around for me to visit.

Hope all is well!

michelle said...

Michelle, it is so cool how well this tutorial explains the making of a silhouette. I love making them! I am working on one right now of our dog. I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will show her personality. :)

Melinda said...

These turned out so darn cute! Way to go.

Natalie said...


Nikki said...

great idea! i would've never thought of it! thanks!

Mikki said...

That came out beautiful!!! Great tutorial. I don't have photoshop, but maybe someday...

Cristin said...

Nicely done!

I've always just enlarged photos and used paint or traced onto black paper...I think I'm in the pre-computer generation! :)