Silhouette Portraits with the Silhouette Cameo

I wanted to make one of those silhouette portraits of my children, but I am notoriously bad at cutting things out. I also stink at coloring in the lines. And my handwriting is terrible. Yeah, first grade was rough on me.

So I decided to use my Silhouette Cameo to do all the work. If you don’t have one, you can also just create the image and pay somebody else to do the cutting.

Making silhouette portraits with the Silhouette Cameo is really, really easy to do. If somebody who barely passed first grade can do it, so can you!

Child Silhouette Instructions:

1. Take a side view photo of your child using a digital camera. I set my kids next to a window because having them back lit helps give you a clear and well-defined profile. Luckily we have a window by the TV, so I just distracted them with their favorite show and clicked away. It was much easier than trying to get them to look in the right direction and sit still. I got a few shots in case one didn’t work.
2. Using your favorite photo editor, change the photo to B/W and then play with the contrast of the photo. I found that by bumping it way up I could get an even cleaner line that would be easier to trace later.
3. Print out your image on regular white paper. Then using a sharpie, trace your child’s profile. My daughter had very curly hair, so I had to pick and choose which locks I was going to trace. The goal of this is to keep a very simple profile. It also helped to put her hair in a pony tail. I did one without a pony tail first and her profile just looked like a giant cotton ball.
4) Turn your paper over. You will notice that you can see where the ink has come through. Retrace the image on the blank side of the paper using the sharpie line as a guide. If you are having a hard time seeing the lines, just hold it against a window. You should now have cleanly traced profile without all the background stuff from the photo.
5) Scan the profile or take a photo of it and save it as a jpg file on your computer. If you don’t have a Silhouette, you can send this image to whoever will be doing the cutting.
6) You are now going to pull it into your Silhouette Studio software by opening the the jpg file into the program.
7) Open your Trace window by clicking on the trace icon in the top right corner. It looks like a yellow box with a blue “x” in it.
8) Click on “Select Trace Area” and select the profile. If you took a photo instead of scanning it in, be careful not to select the edges of the paper, just the traced profile. Warning: Using a photo instead of scanning it will also make it harder to get clean lines. I would strongly recommend using a scanner if you have one.
9) After you have selected the area, select “Trace Outer Edge.” This will give you a clean profile line that you can use to cut just like you would any other Silhouette image. If you want, you can add your child’s name and the date you made the silhouette below.

One thing I love about this method is that you can use the same silhouette over and over again. You can make small framed portraits for grandmas or use them for other crafts. You can also make them a lot smaller than if you were doing it with an x-acto knife.

I decided to cut mine out on vinyl because sometimes the paper gets gummed up on intricate cuts. Plus it made it so that I could stick it directly to the mat board without using glue.

I now have their two cute little silhouettes hanging on my gallery wall. The frame was a hand-me-down and I bought the mat board from Habitat for Humanity, so the whole project cost me less than $3!

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