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$10 DIY Silhouette Art: A Tutorial

This week I am extremely excited to bring you a super easy DIY project. After a few weeks of discussing how to follow through with our interior plans and tackling intricate designs, a girl just needs a no-fuss project with high class and low effort. Which is exactly how I would classify DIY silhouette art. It’s super easy to accomplish, and has a way of adding just the right touch of class to a room.

For some time now, I’ve admired silhouette art but was unsure of how to create the exact look I desired. As you know, I am in the process of designing my sister’s dining room. Therefore I was in search of art to complement the bold features at a friendly price tag of course.

Most of the silhouette art I’ve come across is youthful in nature. I needed a mature design with a bit more character and pizzazz. After convincing my sister to let me feature her own silhouette for the final product, I was on my way to creating our own DIY silhouette art.

I must say, I couldn’t be happier with the results. Which is why I’m so excited to share them with you. But first, let’s get you started with how to create your own DIY silhouette art.

For this tutorial, you will need Photoshop. There is another easy way to create silhouette art with black craft paper if you desire a more hand-crafted look. These tutorials can also be found easily with a simple google or Pinterest search. If a print look is more of your style, read on.

Capture Your Image

First, take a picture of your subject against a white wall. This will help you to easily define the silhouette border while creating the image in Photoshop.

Edit in Photoshop

Now, open your image in Photoshop.

DIY silhouette art subject picture

Click on the quick selection tool. If it is preset to the magic wand, click and hold this option. The option to switch to quick selection will then appear.

DIY silhouette art quick selection

Next, drag your cursor down the length of your subjects head. The marching ants will appear. Don’t be frightened, they don’t bite.

Resist the urge to move too fast here. If you don’t make a selection of the entire subject’s silhouette that’s fine. That’s actually how I prefer to select, giving the tool slow guidance where needed.

DIY silhouette art marching ants

Now, click on an area towards the end of your selection and continue slowly moving the cursor down and out to cover all desired areas of your silhouette, completing your selection. You will notice the quick selection addition option is now highlighted. Because you are not beginning a new selection, the tool is now functioning as an addition.

DIY silhouette art selection addition

Your selection is now complete. Now get ready to have some fun.

You will see in my example below, there were a few areas in need of “fine-tuning.” The quick selection tool is not perfect, therefore your eye for detail must be utilized to help the tool along. A few areas in my sister’s silhouette, her pretty curls for example, were over-selected. In this case, switch to the quick selection deduction, and click the cursor on the areas where a decrease in the selection is desired.

Work closely and slowly in areas with smooth lines such as the body, clicking as closely to the marching ants as you can. If clicking further away from the border selection, the tool will again overcompensate and eliminate too much of the selection.

DIY silhouette art fine tune selection

With curls or free flowing lines you may click further away from the selection border, giving the tool a general guide of where to go. When giving the tool a little help, it can select free flowing lines, such a curls easily. See below.

DIY silhouette art fine tune curls

Check all other areas of your silhouette.

DIY silhouette art final selection

Once you are happy with the selection, click on “Select and Mask.”

DIY silhouette art select and mask

This tool will give you the option to examine the lines of your silhouette using various backgrounds. I chose black and white.

DIY silhouette art mask option

This will allow you to locate your rough edges.

DIY silhouette art black white mask

Next, adjust the smooth and contrast sliders to get a smoother silhouette overall.

DIY silhouette art smooth contrast

Click “OK.”

Next, in the Photoshop menu bar click “select”, and choose “inverse.” This will adjust the selection you previously made of the silhouette, to the surrounding area of the silhouette, the background. Hit “delete” or “backspace” on your keyboard.

A fill box will appear. Make sure the contents are set to “white,” mode is set to “normal,” and opacity is set to 100%.

Now, click on “select,” and choose “deselect.” The silhouette should be all that remains, with no marching ants in sight.

DIY silhouette art delete background

Now move on to cleaning up any areas where straight and/or clean lines are desired. I like a silhouette with a clean cut-off, so I eliminated a bit more to achieve a straight line.

In order to do this, select the pen tool. This tool will allow you to make another selection, using clean lines, and delete the area selected, just as you did using the quick selection tool.

DIY silhouette art pen tool

After selecting the pen tool, make a selection by clicking on points surrounding the area you’d like to isolate. In order to officially isolate your desired area, make sure to “close” the selection by clicking in the first point made, as the final point. A small circle will appear next to the cursor when closing the selection. See my selection below.

DIY silhouette art new selection

Now right click within the selection, and choose “make selection.” The marching ants will appear. Hit delete or backspace on your keyboard. Another fill box will appear. Make sure the contents are set to “white,” mode is set to “normal,” and opacity is set to 100%.

Repeat your use of the pen tool until you have achieved the clean look desired. I used the pen tool once more on the bottom of the neck to achieve a cleaner look. (You will see this in the final design below.)

Now, click and hold the quick selection tool again, and choose “magic wand.” Click anywhere in the white area of the image. This will select the background again. Now click select in the Photoshop menu bar and choose “inverse.” This will select the silhouette.

Now, select the brush tool, and make sure your color is set to black. Click and hold your cursor, shading over your silhouette, filling it with black.

DIY silhouette art shade in selection

Once complete, click on “select” in the Photoshop menu bar and choose “deselect.”

Voila, your silhouette art is complete.

Export your image by clicking on file>>export>>export as.

DIY silhouette art final product

I loved it so much, I created a second silhouette of my sister with a different hairstyle just to add a little contrast. (See below for the big reveal.)

Assemble Your DIY Silhouette Art

I was lucky enough to score two identical 11×14 wood frames at a nearby thrift store for around $5, and I just love the way silhouette art looks in wood framing.


DIY silhouette art thrift frames

I purchased two cream colored 11 x 14 mats with an 8×10 opening at Michaels, of course using my handy dandy email coupons. Therefore I scored two for nearly $5. If you haven’t done so, sign up for the Michael’s newsletter. Trust me, you will thank yourself later.

Assemble your mat and silhouette art in your framing of choice. Once assembled, you’re free to hang anywhere you’d like. Both frames were hung next to my beautiful stenciled wall. I love the way it turned out. I also love the way the silhouette art complements the stencil wall.

DIY silhouette art feature image 1

DIY silhouette art feature image 2


Did I say how happy I am with the results? I hope you are too! As you can see, DIY silhouette art is a super easy and budget-friendly way to add a bit of spunky class to any room or gallery wall. The cost of this project totaled only $10 and the look is priceless. Just take a picture, hop on Photoshop and have some fun. Are you considering adding a little silhouette art to your home? Don’t forget to share it with me when you’re done!

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