How to Make Silhouettes of Children's Profile Shadows


Immortalize your child's profile with silhouette art. Portrait silhouettes date back to ancient Egypt and Greece, but reached their height of popularity in Victorian times. Make your child's silhouette portrait the traditional way or, if you prefer, use technology to help you if your little one cannot sit still long enough for a hand-traced portrait. Either way, the result will be a lovely keepsake to display or give to loved ones as gifts.

Things You'll Need

  • Light source
  • Chair
  • Tack or tape
  • Light or white paper
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Camera
  • Computer
  • Photo editing software
  • Printer
  • Black or colored card stock
  • Colored pencils
  • Glue
  • Card stock in contrasting color

Traditional Silhouette Portrait

  • Set a strong light, such as a desk lamp, on top of a table so that it shines on a blank wall. You will need space enough on the wall to cast a shadow of your child's facial profile.

  • Sit your child on a chair between the light and the wall so that a sharp shadow of his facial profile appears on the wall. Adjust the child or the light, if necessary, until you are satisfied with the silhouette. Don't worry about the body; just make sure that the facial features cast a clearly defined shadow.

  • Tack light or white paper to the wall so that the profile shadow falls squarely on the paper.

  • Trace around the edges of the silhouette with a pencil as carefully as you can to achieve an accurate silhouette. Depending on how comfortable you are with your drawing skills, this can take less than a minute or many minutes. The most important part is tracing around the features accurately so that your child's profile will be recognizable.

  • Turn off the light and allow your child to get up. Take the paper and cut out the shape with scissors for a template.

Using Technology

Finishing the Shadow Art

  • Lay the template on a piece of black or colored card stock.

  • Trace the child's silhouette with a colored pencil.

  • Remove the template, cut out the shape and glue it on a piece of contrasting colored paper so that it stands out. Frame it and hang it or put it in your scrapbook.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you are using the traditional shadow-tracing method, your child will need to remain still for the entire time, as it's almost impossible to line her up in the right spot again to continue drawing. If she moves, you are better off starting over.
  • If your child has trouble sitting absolutely still for more than a minute or two, you are better off creating the profile with a photograph, which takes only a second to snap.
  • Convert your photograph to black and white before printing to save on colored ink.

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