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1  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / Easy Mounted Silhouette Art from a Photo (w/ Tutorial) on: March 12, 2009 08:22:50 AM

Who do you think youre kidding with those bare walls?  Seriously, did you even read the article I wrote about framing your photos?  I know its a recession and you dont have money for art.  So lets make some.

Dont give me any excuses about not being an artist!  Youve read this far, so youre at least slightly creative, and were going to break all the rules today and TRACE some photos today to make art.  (Its fun to break the rules, once in a while.)

Of course, its only right that I interject here to say that its one thing to trace someones photographs to make art that hangs on your own wall, but not to make art to sell.  Some flickr users allow their photos to be used under the creative commons license.  When in doubt, email the photographer and ask permission, or use your own photographs as a starting point.

  • Computer
  • Printer
  • Photoshop or similar (optional, but helpful)
  • Clear tape
  • Masking tape (optional)
  • Paint pen in any color.  I like a chisel tip.
  • 8 x 10 canvas
  • Staple gun
  • Thin cotton fabric
  • Day light and a window (the poor mans light box)

You can choose any color or pattern fabric that you like, but a subtle, mostly monotone (one color) pattern will probably work best.  A fat quarter will give you more than enough fabric.

First, we need an image.  Use google image search or search on flickr.com for your subject.  It may help to include the word silhouette with your search term.  A simple, clear silhouette of a single object will work best for this project.

In Photoshop, enlarge the photo to an entire 8.5 x 11 page.  It doesnt matter if the picture gets a little fuzzy when you do.  In the Filter menu, select Stylize and then Find Edges.  This should give you a coloring book style outline of the silhouette.  Print this page.

What if I dont have Photoshop?
You need an outline version of your image, and it will need to fill an 8.5 x 11 page.  Another way to achieve this is to use a photocopier to blow up the image, then trace the outlines of that image by hand onto another sheet of paper.

Cut your fabric to about 12 x 14 and iron out any wrinkles.

Now its time to trace!  Place four pieces of tape on the wrong side of your paper.  Lay the paper (tape and design side up) on your work surface, and center your fabric on the paper, taping the two together.  Now, tape the fabric to your window, making sure the fabric is smooth.

Begin to trace the outlines onto the fabric with the paint pen.  Dont worry about filling in areas yet, just trace the whole image onto the fabric.  When youve gotten the image traced, pull the tape and the paper off.

Place your fabric design-side down on your work surface.  You'll probably be able to see the paint pen through the back of the fabric.  Line up your canvas so that its centered on the fabric.

The design that I used would still look OK if it were slightly crooked, so I went right to stapling.  If your design absolutely must be straight, use masking tape to stretch the fabric over the canvas, and then check out how it looks before you staple.

Staple two sides of the fabric into the wood back of the canvas.  The fabric should be taut, but not pulling where you have stapled it.  Fold the third and fourth sides as though you were wrapping a present, and staple these as well.  Trim excess fabric.  Optionally, cover the edges of the fabric with masking tape.

Now turn your canvas back over and use the paint pen to fill in your design.  If your design goes all the way to the edge, continue the design so it, too, wraps around.  You may have to fake it a little bit, (I know, I know, youre not an artist!) but youre just drawing lines.

Finally, sign your name to your work of art, and hang that baby up!

Check out these flickr groups for great silhouettes:
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