Artistic Silhouettes

with 21 Comments

Artistic Silhouettes
by Lidia Sari

My husband and I love browsing at the antique or flea markets. I just love to look at the old pieces and think about the story behind each of them. Recently, we went to an antique shop where I saw a framed silhouette of a little girl. I was really inspired by it. I was thinking that I could easily make a silhouette in Photoshop using a picture of my family.

Back home, half an hour and a cup of coffee later, I had made my silhouette. I didn’t just stop there. I was so inspired that I made more and added photos into the silhouettes. It was so much fun!

Today, I want to share the joy of creating silhouettes with all of you. Let’s get started!

Step One: Open a Photo

  • Open a photo (File > Open).
  • In the Menu Bar, choose File > Duplicate and click OK. (Photoshop: Choose Image > Duplicate.)
  • Close the original photo.

 Step Two: Create a Silhouette

  • Get the Magnetic Lasso tool. It is nested with the Selection tools.
  • In the Tool Options, click on the New Selection icon, set Feather to 0 px, and check Anti-Aliasing.
  • On the photo, click once on the edge of the area that you want to work with and drag to trace around it. Continue to drag around the edge of the target area until you return to the starting point. Click once more when the cursor displays a small circle at the edge of the tool icon to create a selection outline.


  • Press Ctrl J (Mac: Cmd J) to copy the selection onto another layer.
  • Press the letter D to reset the Color Chips to the default of black and white.
  • Press Ctrl Shift Backspace (Mac: Cmd Shift Delete) to fill the layer with the background color.
  • In the Layers panel, double click directly on the name of the active layer and rename it “Silhouette.”
  • Activate the Background layer.
  • Press Alt Backspace (Mac: Opt Delete) to fill the Background layer with the foreground color.


 Step Three: Place a Photo into the Silhouette

  • In the Layers panel, activate the top layer.
  • Open a photo to place inside the silhouette.
  • Get the Move tool.
  • In the Tool Options, uncheck Auto Select Layer. (Photoshop: In the Options Bar, uncheck Auto-Select.)
  • On the photo, click on the photo and drag it onto the silhouette document.
  • Press Ctrl T (Mac: Cmd T) to get the Transform options.
  • On the document, click on a corner handle of the Bounding Box and drag to resize the photo, making it slightly larger than the silhouette. (Photoshop: Press and hold the Shift key while dragging to maintain proportion.) Double click inside the Bounding Box to commit the changes.
  • In the Layers panel, while holding down the Alt key (Mac: Opt key), hover your cursor between the photo layer and the silhouette layer, then click when the clipping mask icon appears.
  • On the document, click and drag to reposition the photo as necessary.
  • Press Ctrl E (Mac: Cmd: E) to merge the photo and silhouette layers together.


 Step Four: Use the Silhouette

  • Open the layered scrapbook page on which you would like to use the silhouette.
  • Activate the silhouette document.
  • On the document, click on the silhouette and drag it onto the scrapbook page.

Try adding patterned paper instead of a photo or using colors other than black or white to get a modern look for the silhouette. Below you can see a few more examples that I made, since I can’t stop experimenting using this technique.


Here’s my finished layout using the tutorial. I ended up using a vintage postcard I found at the antique shop to add to the silhouette. I have also added a custom drop shadow and a stroke outline to accentuate the image even more. Please share your layouts with us in the Digi Scrap Tutorial Gallery. I can’t wait to see what you come up with using this tutorial.


Artistic Silhouette by Lidia Sari
Software: Photoshop Elements 12, Adobe Photoshop CC 2014
Scrapbook page: City Dog by Lidia Sari
Notepaper Video Tutorial by Susie Roberts
Background paper from Outdoor Dad by Brandy Murry
Newspaper print paper from Beautiful You by Kristin Cronin-Barrow
White paper and dotted stamp from ArtPlay Palette Family by Anna Aspnes
Felt bullet train and double decker bus from Off We Go by Susan Bartolini
Grungy Bits Brushes by Susie Roberts
Vintage postcard, “Night View of Baltimore” by Tichnor Brothers
Pencil scribbles by Lidia Sari
Fonts: Postino Std and PT Serif, Sewing Pattern

Download this Digi Scrap Tutorial


Lidia SariAuthor: Lidia Sari |
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21 Responses

  1. Doris
    | Reply

    Fun tutorial. Ah, so nice to see the pdf back. Life is good again!

    • Lidia Sari
      | Reply

      Thank you so much Doris! 🙂

  2. Shirl
    | Reply

    Go ahead with your bad self and your urban art. Love silhouettes. I took the class here and loved it. Thank you for an additional method to use. Hugs. 🙂

    • Lidia Sari
      | Reply

      Thank you so much, Shirl! 🙂

  3. Donna
    | Reply

    I love your “City Dog” page. The silhouetted photo is perfect for the theme of this layout. Thanks for the tutorial!

    • Lidia Sari
      | Reply

      Thank you so much, Donna! 🙂

  4. Mary Kuhn
    | Reply

    Just a shout out to Charlie! Thank You, to giving these girls some good advice! Glad the PDF is back and I can print my learning tools. This looks like a cool Silhouette. Easier than putting your child in a chair with the light, and tracing with chalk on black paper. Then again the end result was fun also.

  5. Nann Dalton
    | Reply

    Love all the ideas you have given us. Great tutorial Lidia.

    • Lidia Sari
      | Reply

      Thank you so much, Nann! 🙂

  6. Ingrid
    | Reply

    I love this idea and have been playing with it for awhile. The part I haven’t figured out is how to get smooth lines when the subject isn’t smooth. I have a Collie, for instance, so because of all of her long hair, the silhouette is very jagged and looks almost pixelated. Same goes for someone with curly hair. Thoughts on how to get that smoother outline? Thanks for the tutorial!

    • Lidia Sari
      | Reply

      Hi Ingrid,
      Before you move on to Step Three, on the Layers panel click on the silhouette layer. In the Menu Bar, choose Select > Modify > Smooth. Set the Sample Radius to 5 pixels and click OK. Repeat if necessary. Hope this helps. Let me know if you are still having trouble.

  7. Lenore
    | Reply

    Can’t wait to play with this great idea. Many thanks Jen.

    • Lidia Sari
      | Reply

      Thank you, Lenore! I am so glad you like the tutorial! 🙂

  8. Luisa (ouisiekelly)
    | Reply

    Very cool Lidia 🙂 I think I have just the one photo I can use!
    Thanks a lot.

    • Lidia Sari
      | Reply

      Thank you, Luisa! Please share the layout with us if you happen to make one! 🙂

  9. Lois
    | Reply

    This looks like fun! Where can I find the scribbles you used?

    • Lidia Sari
      | Reply

      Hi Lois, if you were a member last year, Anna Aspnes’s Give Thanks Kit has scribble brushes in it you can use. Thank you for the sweet comment! I made the scribbles.

  10. Mungo
    | Reply

    Thanks for sharing your fabulous idea a lot of fun ahead I think

    • Lidia Sari
      | Reply

      Thank you so much, Mungo!

  11. Jenifer Juris
    | Reply

    This is such a fun idea! We love dogs, too and wish we could take them all home as well!! Lovely page!

    • Lidia Sari
      | Reply

      Thank you so much, Jen! 🙂

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