How to Create a Beautiful Silhouette Drawing

As a crafty DIYer and vintage scavenger, I love getting my hands on a unique crafting project. Today, I want to tell you about a beautiful and cheap decor option for creating your own wall art. 


Clients ask me all the time, “How can I make my spaces look good without stressing a hefty $200 price tag for one table lamp or piece of art? Ahh––a decorating dilemma we all face. 


I’m with ya, and I’ve got a solution for you regardless of your decor style!.


Enter the world of sweet and sophisticated silhouette drawings. 

How to Create a Silhouette of a Person

You can take the traditional route with a classic hand-drawn print, OR you can use technology. Here, we are creating a piece of cheap decor. BUT, that doesn’t mean it won’t be a charming piece of art you’ll appreciate for years to come.

There are also many alternatives to the classic black and white shadow portrait. You can jazz it up!

Incorporate your favorite mediums:

  • Bold patterns and bright colors
  • Regular paper or textured cardstock
  • Pieces of printed fabric
  • Glossy acrylic painted canvas art that complements your home design


You also don’t have to limit your subjects to humans. This is about you and who or what you love. For example, you may opt-in to create a shadow portrait of your fur babies!

Ready to hang this timeless piece on your wall? Let’s get craftin’! 

Use the Traditional Technique 

How Do I Make a Photo Into a Silhouette of a Person

Let’s take a break from our digital screens and create a classic hand-drawn portrait. 

“My art skills start and finish at stick figures, Courtney!” If drawing isn’t one of your top skills, feel free to skip this part and move to technique number 2, “Using Technology.”


Supplies You’ll Need:

  1. Background: Large sheet of WHITE paper 
  2. Silhouette interior: Black paper 
  3. Silhouette border: Any second sheet of paper (or cardstock) in a different color
  4. Sharp Scissors 
  5. Pencil
  6. Glue (clear drying and acid-free work best)
  7. Your choice of frame (Rectangular, Round, or Oval)
  8. Scotch painters tape 



  1. Use a blank wall. Tape a large sheet of white paper on a section.
  2. Ask your subject to face sideways.
  3. Direct a stable light source on your subject. A desk lamp is perfect and will create an intentional shadow on your wall. Shut off other lights for a striking shadow. You can also use a regular or iPhone flashlight.
  4. Using a drawing pencil, trace the shadow’s outline onto your white paper. Don’t aim for perfection!
  5. Remove the wallpaper. Use scissors to cut your subject’s outline. This is your template.
  6. Using this template, trace your silhouette onto cardstock or any medium of your choice (as listed above). Reminder: black and white for a classic feel versus bright colors for a modern and bold look.
  7. Slowly cut your subject’s outline and remove the paper from the outer edges of the silhouette. 
  8. Glue your final profile to white paper and VOILA! You’re ready to frame!


PRO Artist Tips:

  • If your subject has long hair, ask them to opt-in for a ponytail or bun hairstyle. This will create a bolder outline in your drawing.
  • Use low back seating options like stools. This prevents any unnecessary elements from interfering with your subject’s face.
  • Keep adjusting your light source’s direction until you get the perfect shadow outline. 


Use the Technology Technique 

For those of you that need some artistic help, here’s technique number two. This age-old skill is not difficult to master if technology is on your side! Grab your standard camera or iPhone camera and ask your subject to turn to the side against a blank wall. 

White walls work best.

PRO Artist Tips! 

  • Be sure to take a close-up picture of your subject. Their profile should form the majority of your composition. 


  1. Filter the photo with a dramatic black and white filter and print. 
  2. Glue the picture on black cardstock and make a precise cut around the silhouette with scissors. 
  3. When its complete, flip the silhouette over to the “non-glued” side and frame! 
  4. If you are not much of a crafter, Minted can also create these for you. 


This is NOW FEATURED in Good Housekeeping in the July/August edition that just released!


What if you don’t want to make a silhouette of a person? Sure! Your subjects don’t have to be humans. You can use shapes or any photos you find online to create shadow portraits. 


PRO Tip! Search for images with clean lines and distinct shapes. Use any of the two processes above. 


Are you an avid DIYer? I’d love to see how your cheap decor projects blossomed into beauties! Send me a pic of your DIY projects on my Facebook page!


Could you use more design help? IF you’re struggling with more than just choosing wall art options– Courtney Warren Home offers home design services for every budget. 




I offer a complimentary, no-strings-attached phone call consultation. We can also consult by video conference. If you’d like to meet in your home, please know we will use all current safety protocols.


In the meantime, catch other great design tips on my YouTube channel, Real Life Design with Courtney Warren!