Tips to Paint a Silhouette


A silhouette is the image of a person, animal, scenery or an object rendered in a single colour. It is often painted against a light coloured background. The beauty of silhouette paintings is in the shapes that emerge, as a stark contrast to its background, like shadows of what they represent. In this type of art form, the subject often stands out and simply looks astonishingly beautiful.

Here are a few tips for painting silhouettes that you can try with Camlin Artists’ Acrylic Colour 12 Assorted Colours Set.

What makes a good silhouette?

While almost anything can be transformed into a silhouette, it is always a good idea to first visualize what the subject of your art project will look like as an outline. Make sure that it has some defining features, such as the whiskers of a cat or the shape of a Christmas tree. Whatever this feature is, it should be one that distinguishes it and is easily recognizable. The side profile of an object offers the most interesting of features to show up in a silhouette painting.

How to Draw a Silhouette

There are a number of ways to draw a silhouette. But two of the most famous ways are tracing and freehand. So we are going to talk about these two for now.

Freehand Drawing

In this type of a silhouette technique, you have to draw the silhouette either by direct observation or by using a photograph of the person as a reference. Next, you have to cut out the drawing to use as a stencil.

Tracing a picture

This technique is definitely easier and will help you get a more accurate silhouette sketch with all the details. Find a photograph for reference and grab your lightbox. Lay the photograph over the light-box and place the paper across the photograph and start sketching.

Take care while cutting out the silhouette. If it’s done right, you can use it for many artworks. Use a craft knife while cutting around the intricate edges. Painting with Acrylic paint

Tip 1:

Before drawing the outline of your silhouette, always place it over various places on the paper first to see where it will look best. Acrylic paint is opaque which means you can choose to first paint the background and let it dry. Then you can outline the silhouette and paint the silhouette on top of this layer of paint.

Tip 2:

One of the best things about creating art is that you have the creative freedom to experiment with it. So go ahead and try out different colours and texture of the background over more than one sheet of paper. A silhouette with a solid, contrasting colour will always stand out against the background.

Tip 3:

Fill in the background with more than one colour to create depth. The silhouette is traditionally painted black. But you can change it up if you want. Mix it up with a lighter shade and create interesting patterns like the ones shown in this image.

Tip 4:

Use a smaller brush to define the edges of your silhouette well.

Tip 5:

Silhouettes may look simple but they offer a lot of creative possibilities. Simply changing the medium can change the way a painting looks drastically. Take a look at the picture; you will see the difference in a painting done in acrylic and with watercolours.

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