How to Make City Skyline Silhouettes

By Helen Harvey
Skyline silhouettes make striking murals.

Whether you are creating a backdrop for a stage production, want to add an urban vibe to your home decor, or are painting a mural or an artwork on canvas, you can easily create a city skyline silhouette. Paint it directly onto a wall or canvas, or, for a large-scale, temporary effect, paint your skyline on a large sheet of cotton fabric. Decide if you want to create a generic city skyline or recreate a skyline such as that of Manhattan, including iconic silhouettes such as the Chrysler Building and Empire State Building, or Seattle, including its famous Space Needle.

Study paintings and photographs of skylines for inspiration. If you want to create a skyline of a specific city, find images of that skyline.

Sketch out your skyline on paper to give you an idea of composition. Decide if you want the sky or building silhouettes to be predominant in your project. When recreating a specific skyline, observe where in the skyline specific landmark structures are and how they relate to the rest of the buildings in terms of height and width.

Draw a horizon line across the surface to be painted, essentially dividing the space in half horizontally. Use a pencil, since ink from a pen may bleed through your paint.

Apply masking tape under the horizon line. Paint your sky above the tape. Use sunset orange or red or a deep night-sky blue to get maximum effect. Allow the paint to dry thoroughly before removing the masking tape.

Apply fresh masking tape above the horizon line. Paint your building color below the tape; use charcoal or black. Allow the paint to dry thoroughly before removing the masking tape.

Draw in the details of your skyline along your horizon line, using a pencil. Vary the height of rooftops and spires to create interest.

Fill in your skyline details with the same color paint that you used for the buildings.

Add simple details to your buildings. For example, to create lit windows, paint small squares of yellow paint. Place them randomly in your buildings, but be sure to vertically or horizontally line up windows that are supposed to be in the same building.

Tip

When recreating the skyline of an actual city, try tracing a picture of the skyline onto a transparency sheet. Use a projector to project the image onto the wall and draw over the image with a pencil.

About the Author

Helen Harvey began her writing career in 1990 and has worked in journalism, writing, copy-editing and as a consultant. She has worked for world-class news sources including Reuters and the "Daily Express." She holds a Master of Arts in mass media communications from Cambridge University in the United Kingdom.