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Silhouette Wall Art

By: Jennifer Neill for Hope Studios

In need of some photo craft ideas for the holidays?  Jennifer Juniper has you covered in this tutorial for Silhouette Wall Art.  Take your favorite family photo and transform it into the perfect gift, and decoration.



  • Acrylic paints
  • Artist canvas
  • Paint Brush
  • Transfer Paper (from your local craft store)
  • Digital photo



  1. Choose a digital photo with a lighter background so the subjects stand out, like this one:

  2. Upload it to Picnik or your favorite photo editing program to create a silhouette. Use Picnik in the following way: Click the "Edit" tab -> Click "Exposure" -> Slide the "Contrast" slider to the right to create more contrast between the subjects and the background. -> Now, click the "Create" tab -> Last, the the "black and white" option.
  3. Your photo will now look like this:

  4. Take your photo to your local copy center (I used Kinko's) to have your photo enlarged to the same size as your canvas. In my case, I enlarged it to 20x16 inches for right around $1.00.

  5. Lay your transfer paper between your canvas and enlargement and trace the outline of each figure and the details you'd like to include:

  6. You will have what looks like a rough pencil sketch when you are finished:

  7. Fill in your sketch with the paint color of your choice. After one coat of paint your painting will look like this:

  8. See the uneven quality of the paint that has that amateur look? We don't want that! Here's what to do - thin some of your paint down with water and apply one to two additional coats over the entire silhouette until you have an even, professional looking finish like this:

  9. Finally, let your painting dry overnight, then thin your paint down even further using water until you have a "wash", a very watery version of your original paint. Dip a rag into the paint and "wash" the surface of your painting by rubbing small amounts of this watery paint onto the entire surface of your painting. This will soften the overall look so you don't have a stark white background.
  10. If you accidentally apply the paint too thick, simply dip your rag into water and wipe. If you don't apply it thick enough, go over it with a few coats of the wash.

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