There’s been an impostor in our house. This placeholder silhouette of a little girl has been staring back us from Clara’s frame wall since even before she was born. And it’s finally time for this fake head to go so Clara’s real head can take its rightful place. Well, not her real head. A rendering of her real head. You know what I mean.
After snapping Clara’s weekly photo on Friday (see how we do that here), we decided to grab a shot of her in profile while we were at it. We’d be adjusting it later in Photoshop so all that was important was getting a clean shot (which meant taking off her onesie since it was bunching up around her neck and shoulders). Photographing her against the curtain in the sunroom helped get the silhouette effect started and making funny faces at her got her looking in the right direction (most of the time) so Sherry could snap away from the side.
After about 15 shots we ended up with this one that seemed perfect for silhouette-ification (weird back of the neck lump and all):
Now we considered this low-tech approach (which anyone who doesn’t have Photoshop can do in about ten minutes):
- Print your profile photo out to the size that you want your silhouette to be (even if it gets blurry from enlargement it doesn’t matter)
- Cut out the baby head so you’re left with just a profile and no background (yes, it will feel weird to cut off your baby’s head)
- Trace your head cut-out onto black construction paper with a pencil and then cut the shape out one last time.
Instead I took the Photoshop approach (partially because we didn’t have any black construction paper around and I’m lazy). I just cropped the pic, desaturated it to black & white, and then played with the “Brightness & Contrast” (under “Image”, “Adjustments”) to get a mostly silhouetted look:
Then I used the paintbrush tool to fill in those lighter areas with black, which left me with a crisp black silhouette on a white background. Oh and I added some eyelashes and wisps of hair like we’ve seen in professional silhouette cut-outs. And I extended the shoulders a bit so we had a little more to work with. We didn’t worry about 100% clean lines on the added shoulder part since we knew the scissor cuts would straighten things out.
Once we had it done and printed to the size that we wanted (around 3.5″ x 5″ for our 5 x 7″ frame) Sherry “Steady Hands” Petersik took to cutting it out with small hair-cutting scissors. Yes, the same pair that she got at CVS and uses to give me a trim every few months.
Then came the official head swap in the frame (where we had previously used a colorful piece of craft paper from Michael’s for 60 cents as the background). Looking at our placeholder silhouette really shows how off-base our expectations were in the hair department. Oh well. She’s got time.
Oh but notice how we cut the bottom of the shoulders for a more “traditional silhouette” look (I added more than enough black on the bottom in that area before we printed for Sherry to create that little freehand shape as she was cutting).
And with that, Clara’s round little head is officially represented on her frame wall. Of course I’d be lying if I said we weren’t looking forward to updating her silhouette periodically as she grows… especially when that hair finally does decide to come in. Have you guys done any silhouette DIY projects? Or cut out photos of someone’s head for any other reason? It feels weird, right?
Psst- Wanna know where we got something in our house or what paint color we used? Just click on this button:
I’ve never done a silhouette projects, but after I graduated high school we did take a cutout of someone’s head around NYC. As a graduation celebration, several of my friends decided to take a 4 day trip to NYC, but one of the group couldn’t make the trip, so my friend Sara’s mom surprised us on the day we were going to hit the road with an “Effigy Eric”. A blown up photo of his head, which she cut out and glued to a cardboard backer and put on a paint stirring stick. It was fabulous! We took him all over NYC and took photos of him in front of the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and all of the other touristy places we could think of. We even held his head up in front of a headless statue at the Met. Even now, 10 years later, those are some of my favorite pictures. Plus, it’s like he was there the whole time!
Dana J says
Love it! Did you know if you have a digital cutter (Sillhoute, cricut) you can do it yourself instead of handcutting? I did it this past Mother’s Day for my MIL of all her grandkids.
Also, here is a great website for custom items:
I did a silhouette of my dog and cutting out his head didn’t feel as strange as your baby’s – or at least I’d assume. Ha. The one I did of him is here: http://diyingtobedomestic.wordpress.com/2010/06/11/pet-silhouette/
What a neat idea!
I make these for my daugther as well. I did one at 3 months and just did one at 17 months. The change is amazing. I take the low tech approach for black paper and when I didn’t have black paper the first go round I just painted some white cardstock black. I mount them on painted wood plaques and use vintage wallpaper as the backing.
Oy! She’s cute even in profile!
She’s so cute! How do you stand it??
I had a silhouette done of my husband sitting on his motorcycle. It was also made by an ETSY vendor. It hangs on display in “his” bathroom.
Melanie Beth says
I did this sort of thing as a gift for my mother-in-law… so easy and it makes a great gift! I love your take on it, mine was the easy way… I cut out the head and then painted it black. If you want to check it out here is my project: http://www.bowloforanges.org/2010/05/silhouettes.html
I love your little wispy-headed Clara, so adorable!
are you guys just using tape on the back of the photos?
if so have you thought of maybe doing velcro to change out photos but make them salvageable still?
We actually printed the silhouette shape out on cardstock, so a loop of tape is easy to remove without damaging them (the old one was still in great shape after we removed it and taped the new one in).
liz @ bon temps beignet says
She has the cutest little profile!
I did a silhouette of our dog Gus.
Thats great! There was a guy at one of the Fall Festivals cutting out silhouettes of people, he was charging $60 for each one! I mean the guy was talented and all, but I like your approach much better!
A couple months ago I took pictures of each person in our family and then cut out our heads to make funny little stick figures, since my little boy wanted a family on his birthday cake.
There’s a picture here: http://r8chel.wordpress.com/2010/09/20/the-family-birthday-cake/
Also, last night I dreamed that I made a wrong turn while shopping in Richmond and ended up at Casa Petersik! I went inside for a visit and Sherry showed me all around. Three surprises: the house was MUCH bigger than it looks in all of the pictures, it was very cluttered (huh?), and there’s a second floor that we’ve never seen! And then Sherry posted on Facebook how glad she was to have me stop by (seriously, a total stranger?), and that I’m so sweet and fun. Haha. I love dreams. :)
I have dreams like that too! I find a second story or a hidden room in our house and I go crazy with excitement!
Rachel @ The Avid Appetite says
This is absolutely adorable. What a sweet photo of your little girl (the real thing and the silhouette)!
Anna Terra says
I just love your blog, but I never wrote a comment becouse my english isn’t that good.
I’m writing today becouse I put some photos os Clara’s birthday on my blog, and I appreciate your visit :)
I’m married too, and just love your house.
I dream with the day when I’ll have one like yours :)
Congrats and thanks!
See ya :)
Katie J. says
I just gave my boyfriend a homemade silhouette of our dog for his birthday! He loved it.
That is adorable!!! I want to do one now!
I love it guys! I have a big favor/idea for your next mood board (why are they called that anyways?) Can you please do a gender neutral babys room?! my husband and i do not want to know the sex of the baby but i want to have as much done with the room as we can before the little bean comes :0)
We’ll add that to the request list (which admittedly is very long)! Stay tuned…
Lindsey d. says
I remember my mom taking my brother and I to a professional silhouette artist when we were kids about 20 years ago. It was so neat to watch her freehand cut our heads out of black paper. My parents still have both images in their bedroom, right underneath a set of my mom in silhouette as a child. Silhouettes are definitely a timeless keeper.
Lauren Ahier says
This is great! I’ve been looking for a way to create a silhouette, thank you for a simple DIY project.
You two are brilliant. and your daughter is ridiculously cute.
Lindsey S says
I love Clara’s weird back-of-head bump! haha :) I made a silhouette type cut out for my cousin’s bridal shower present. I got an unfinished frame from Michael’s, painted it with chalkboard paint and put a silhouette of one of their engagement pictures in the picture area. Here’s a bad picture–
Oh my gosh I love that you can see her eyelashes, so adorable!! I think I’m going to do this project for me and hubby, maybe over our bed!
Jocelyn Stott says
How very sweet and cute. That is an adorable little one you have there!
Lisa Gutierrez says
I painted a silhouette onto fabric (on canvas) of my oldest when he was about 2. My baby is now that age and I think I may have to make another, very soon! I blogged the process here- http://goodknits.com/blog/2008/05/02/painted-fabric-silhouettes/
That is so cute you guys! I may try this in my daughter’s room – it’s a completely blank slate. Perhaps hanging it with some silhouettes of her favorite stuffed animals would make a nice grouping…
My little girl is about 4.5 months old and just as bald as Clara. It was sad watching her hair fall out and I will be glad when it grows back, but right now I think bald is beautiful. Your silhouette turned out cute so I might have to give this a try with her.
I did a little DIY silhouette of our little pup Olive. Check it out! Scroll down a bit and find it on the picture ledge.
Clara’s little chin is just about the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. Except for maybe her eyes. And her nose. And her little lips. And her cheeks. LOVE this shot.
Super cute! When #2 arrives I’m planning to do larger ones of all 4 of us to matt, frame, and hang above the fireplace. I’ve been looking for a place that will do them (they’re EXPENSIVE!), so I may have to try this out. (Plus, I could always trim a bit of the end of my nose off – SHHHH)
For a DIY on how to make your own silhouette and much more…check out my book Silhouette Art published by Chronicle Books. http://www.chroniclebooks.com/index/main,book-info/store,books/products_id,8942/title,Silhouette-Art/
What a great idea! Did you also make the sign with her name on it in the picture? If so can you share how you did it, or if not can you share where you got it? Thanks!!!
That was a gift from http://www.numsi.com. We loved it so much we got a “You Are My Sunshine” piece for John’s mom!
My daughter had the funniest hair. She was bald in the middle and had two wisps of hair above both years. And because it was fun, my husband would tie two pigtails. We still laugh when we see her old pictures. Now at 3 years old, she has beautiful long hair, prettier than anyone in the family. I’m going to try the silhouette idea.
I did this twice, but I went the hard way ! lol. I took pictures, enlarged, traced on black construction paper and cute… very time consuming but so worth it ! It’s a super cute idea. Thanks for sharing.
whoops that’s supposed to say “cut” =)
I love how you mixed burger’s pictures in with Clara’s. Do you have a post that talks about each of the pic’s on that wall? Did you do the drawing of burger yourselves? I just love it!!
Here’s a post detailing most of the art on Clara’s wall: https://www.younghouselove.com/2010/04/nursery-progress-adding-some-art/
That funny drawing of Burger was done by one of my best friends on Facebook (she used the “graffiti” wall feature to sketch it). We loved it so much we printed and framed it!
Precious photo. She’s a beautiful baby.
Joshua G. says
I absolutely love the picture you used for her “head shot” :)
She is the cutest little girl.
I love that the baby pictures of you and John show you both with your mouths wide open. You’ll need to put up a similar one of Clara! Too cute.
That’s what we think is so funny about them. We’re big mouthed babies for sure- and Clara definitely follows in our footsteps!
Nicely done! Maybe I’ll have a crack at this with our little guy!
I’ve been meaning to do a silhoutte of my husband from his soccer glory days. I was having a tough time with the photoshop..thank you for showing me how to do it!
Love that so much. I remember doing that when I was in third grade (I am now 49 YIKES) and giving it as a gift to my parents. I wished I done the same thing for my two children. Hey, maybe my grandchildren at some point. KUDOS! You guys rock.
Megan S says
It’s so amazing to see your little growing…and in such a fun way for her to be able to look back on when she gets older! I was wondering…what version of photoshop do you have and do you like it? Was it easy to figure out…I’m looking at investing in it but don’t necessarily want to fork over major denero for the lastest and greatest…what would you do? Thanks a mill!
Megan : )
We have Photoshop CS2 version 9. We really like it!
Okay adorable! I love the added eyelashes and hair. SO CUTE!
Haha, all this “chopping” heads talk is making me giggle!
The silhouette looks fantastic!
Getting ready to tackle my first siloutte actually. This summer we bought the large Ung Dril picture frame from IKEA
and plan to place a large black silloutte of my daugther, with a lime green background to match the accents in her bedroom. Thought it might look cute handing above her bed.
Thanks for the inservice….I will need it!
Love it! Here are the silhouettes I did of myself, my husband and our son recently using a similar (but slightly simpler) technique:
All of my friends are asking me to make them now… they make a fabulous gift!
Julia @ Hooked on Houses says
So sweet! Love it! :)
i LOVE silhouettes! i did a wall of silhouettes for our guest room: http://thisistotalbs.blogspot.com/2010/09/just-silhouette-of-idea.html
[email protected] says
Love it! My brother and I got silhouettes done when we were young at Disneyworld the old fashion scissors way- but the CS2 way is way more my speed!
My husband and I used our profile silhouettes as our wedding monogram! LOVE all things silhouette!