1 Apr 2012

Is that you? Custom Silhouettes

I'd been looking for some art for our downstairs bathroom for quite some time and kept coming up empty.  We had ordered a wall sticker online, but once it was up it just wasn't cutting it and I couldn't wait to rip it down.  I wanted something that was bright and cheery as there isn't any natural light in the room, but it also couldn't be too heavy and bulky as the room is super small (like you can touch both walls while taking a pee small).  I finally decided (after much himming and hawing) that a set of silhouettes would fit the bill.  There were a few bumps along the way but in the end I am totally happy with them and the bright colors really work with the dark walls.

Here's how I did it.

I had each family member stand in front of the window.  If you look close behind my picture you can see that  it's blizzarding outside (yes, in March) so snow will work just as well as sun. I then took picture from the shoulders up, without flash. If your're like me and blessed with a double chin make sure you stick your chin out, but not so far out that you look like a chicken. It took me a few practice shots before I got the right mix.

Hopefully your subjects are more cooperative than mine. - the dog and the baby were not super excited about staying in one place and staring at the wall.  Thankfully our camera has a setting where it will just keep clicking and clicking and after about 60 clicks we finally got a good one. You'll see we distracted our daughter with the blind cord - I know...bad parents....don't worry they are tucked up nice and safe again.

Here are the before shots:

Once I had the pictures, I then opened each of them up in Microsoft Digital Picture Editor.  I am sure if you have Photoshop you are laughing at me now for my archaic software, but it's all we had and it did what I needed it to. Any photo editing software should be able to do what you need.  If you don't have a program you can check out Picasa or Pixlr.

I changed the photo to black and white and then increased the contrast to 100%.  Here's how it looked:

I then used the magic wand tool and the lasso tool to delete the background, leaving just the silhouette.  The magic wand was able to take out most of the background and I just needed to zoom in and use the lasso tool when I was working really close to the face and hair.  If you have hair that goes past the middle of your neck you will need to put it up or it will just blend into your shoulders and look like a big black blob when you adjust the contrast.  Here's how my picture looked after all of the magic wanding:

I imported the pictures into Word just so that I could center them on the page and see how they looked as 8.5" X 11".  At this point if you want them a different size you could just adjust within the editing software, but since I work with it on a daily basis, I found Word to be the easiest solution.

I went to Michael's and picked up 4 pieces of 8.5" x 11" card stock.  The 16 year old cashier looked at me like I was a total loony when I used my '40% off 1 item' coupon for one piece of card stock, but whatever, I had carried the coupon all the way there so I was going to use it to save 20 cents!

The paper, of course, was a smidge bigger than regular letter size so I had to trim each piece down before loading it in the printer, which just pissed me off but I managed to get over myself.  Why would they say it's 8.5" x 11" when really it's 8.5" x 11.5"?

Anyhow, I set the printer to its best quality and printed out each of the silhouettes.  They came out beautifully (thank you cheapy little printer!).

Then it was time for frames.  The first frames I tried didn't go so well - you can read about that lovely experience here.  I just couldn't salvage them...but I did have 4 totally decent inserts.  My husband was nice enough to run out to Staples for me and pick up some big metal binder clips.  I sandwiched the prints between the glass and the backing and they looked great. And then....when I held them upright to hang them the glass fell out. Ugh, it was too heavy for the clip.  Superglue to the rescue. We glued the clip to the glass and all was good.

  Voila! Custom silhouettes of my cute little family.

I'll be linking to:


  1. I'm so glad you found a way to do this without fancy photo editing software! Will have to try this soon.

  2. I love this SO much! I know you must enjoy looking at them! Thanks for sharing!

    Take care,


    1. Thanks Trish. I do love looking at them! We seem so peaceful in print - too bad it's not like that in real life!


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