DIY Painted Family Silhouette

This last Christmas all the young families in my extended family got a family silhouette. It was a really fun project for me, and of course I took photos so I could share it with you. After Christmas (and once I remembered them again) of course!

Note: For privacy reasons I will not be showing photos of the family.

You will need:

  • A piece of decorative wood
  • Stain
  • A photo of the family you would like to make a silhouette of
  • A paint marker and paint in the same color
  • A piece of chalk, preferably chalk pastel as it is very soft. 
  • Fine grain sand paper

1. You will need a piece of wood. I actually found several pieces of nice wood at a yard sale for next to nothing. I probably spent about a dollar on this one!

2. Paint or stain it your background color. I went sort of orangish for this one (and it looks good in real life, I am just not so grand with a camera!). As you can see there is a mark in the center that some old tape left. Boo. But, you do not see it in the final product unless you know it is there.

3. Now you need to get the outline. I ended up making it mostly from scratch, because I did not have silhouettes of the family and was doing it as a surprise. The easy way to do it is just to convert a photo you already have.
How to do it in gimp. (If you want to make it black than you can color the selected area black)
Or, if you print it out the size you would like can simply cut it out and trace around the people with a marker so you have a guide to follow in the next step. 

5. Get that to paper, the size you want the finished silhouette to be.

6. This is my guide, you can see I did a lot of it by hand and for some reason the paper is filthy.

7. Cover the back of your paper with chalk. I like this blue chalk pastel because I can see where the paper is covered and it is a soft chalk so it coats the paper well.

8. Lay the paper onto your board and tape it down. Trace with a pointy object (pencil or pen). If toy use a colored pen or pencil you should be able to see where you traced.

9. When you take your paper away you should have a chalk line, lightly trace it with a pencil. I use a pen, and that was stupid. 
10. Use a paint marker for the outer lines so you can get good detail. 

11. Paint the rest of it with matching paint. I am using a q-tip hear because it was a narrow area but painted most of it with a paintbrush.

12. Almost done! You can paint the edges too if you would like. I thought it framed it well, so chose to. I am not sure what that dark spot at the top is or why the paint is so uneven.

13. Lightly sand with fine sand paper to distress it. 
14. Spray with craft paint if you want a bit of sheen to it, I wanted my wood to look “wet” so that is why I did it. 
All done! 


  1. How FUN! Love it!

  2. Nice! You did a great job! We made a similar silhouette, but we just printed out a large photo at kinkos and then cut out our figures with an exacto. Then used the remaining paper as a painting stencil. You can see the results of our project here: