How to Make a Good Silhouette

Things You'll Need

  • Black matting paper
  • Masking tape
  • Desk light
  • White colored pencil
  • Newspaper section
  • White matting paper
  • X-Acto knife
  • Archival glue
  • Stool

A silhouette is a drawing that is generally a black-and-white outline of a person or object. The easiest and most accurate way of making a silhouette is by tracing the outline of a real person's face. A silhouette can be made with a few items around the house and is a great project for kids on a rainy day, although a more high-end silhouette can also be traced onto handmade paper to create a frameable keepsake in the home.

Attach the black piece of matting paper with masking tape to a flat wall at your subject's eye level. Matting paper, which can be purchased at your local art supply, store, is a thicker and more high-end paper than construction paper or poster board.

Place an office lamp on top of a stool at about the same height as your subject's head.

Turn on the light, and have your subject stand between the wall and the lamp. Position the light so it casts the shadow of your subject on the piece of black matting paper.

Draw the outline of the shadow with white colored pencil on the black matting paper.

Take down the paper and cut on the colored pencil line with an X-Acto knife. Place a thick section of newspaper under the matting paper to keep from cutting your work surface. You may have to draw with the X-Acto knife carefully several times over the penciled line before the silhouette can be removed from the scrap matting. Work slowly and take your time with the small details.

Paste the black silhouette onto the white matting paper using archival glue.


  • Make one silhouette for every member of the family and get them framed.


  • Keep X-Acto knives out of the reach of children