DIY Silhouette Art

I had been searching for fun artwork to decorate my son Logan’s room when I came across photos of silhouette artwork that I thought would be perfect for bringing in some bright color and displaying his personal interests.  DIY Silhouette Art

The problem was that all of the ones I found were on canvases or blocks of wood. The canvases were too expensive for the size of the wall I wanted to fill. I didn’t want to spend much because I know that as he grows, his interests will change rapidly, so I wanted to be free to change his room accordingly as often as we like.

The blocks of wood made me nervous because they’d be hanging over his bed, posing a danger if they were to fall down.

I decided to make them myself out of insulation foam, and the result was exactly what I was looking for at the right price of less than $25 to complete the entire project of nine pieces of art.

I’ll explain the process step by step so you can do it for yourself. The possibilities are endless! You can choose any colors and use silhouettes of any subject matter. We chose animals because that’s what he’s into right now.

All of the materials came from Home Depot. I did save some money by already having the tools.

Materials Needed:

  • insulation board
  • utility knife with a brand new blade
  • metal ruler (t-square recommended)
  • black or white paint for the silhouettes
  • colored paints of your choice
  • a sponge paint brush
  • printouts of your silhouettes
  • scissors
  • wire for hanging

I bought a large piece of insulation board from Home Depot for only $6. There are a variety of sizes; just make sure you will be able to fit it in your car. A few smaller ones may be a better option.

I measured out the sizes I wanted and marked them with a pen. Using a metal t-square and a large, very sharp utility knife, I started cutting out the blocks. Tip: make sure your blade is long enough to get through the thickness of your foam. This was a particularly thick board so I needed one that pushed out to any length.

The key to getting clean cuts on thick foam is to make more than one pass with the knife each time, so I would hold the ruler in place and drag the knife over the line against the ruler over and over again, pressing harder with each pass until it makes it through to the bottom. This was a very thick board so it took me eight to ten swipes to get through each cut. Your back and fingers will be a little achy by the end!

You will need white or black depending on what color you want your silhouettes to be in, and whatever colors you want for the rest of the pictures. I chose my paints out of the sample sizes for interior house paint at Home Depot. They were $3 each.

I used sponge brushes to apply the paint. Start by covering each one with a nice layer of your silhouette color (white or black).

I found the white went on better on the side of the foam without any print and I liked stroking in parallel lines causing an almost wood grain affect. Let this paint dry fully while you complete the next step.

Online, I looked up silhouette clip art of the various animals and then printed them out as large as I could. Remember, you can do any subject: vehicles, princesses, dinosaurs, etc.

I erased some of the black areas of the images using Microsoft Paint just to save on my printer ink. I used regular printer paper, but the next step might be easier if you print them on sturdier card stock or even construction paper. Then I cut out the silhouettes with scissors.

I positioned the cut out on the previously painted boards, then held them down with one hand while I painted over them with a sponge brush in the color I wanted.

Make sure you brush from the center outward so you are never pushing paint back under your cut out edges. Don’t press too hard or use too much paint because that will cause leaking under the edges as well. This is where you might be glad you cut these out of thick paper. After you carefully peel off the cut out, you might need to go back with a small brush and touch up any smudges.

I laid them all out on a canvas sheet in my garage to dry fully.

It’s generally difficult to get adhesives to stick to foam, so I chose to use wire and insert it into the back for hanging.

I picked up a roll of wire at Home Depot and clipped off a piece for each piece of art work. Then I folded it in half and turned up the ends. I inserted the ends in the back of the foam by pushing in and slightly upward so that the weight of the board would rest onto the wire ends.

Now it’s just a matter of hanging them on the wall. Maybe it’s the higher gloss paint I used on my walls but I find those 3M Command hooks always end up falling off for me. If that’s not an issue in your house, then I’d recommend using them since they won’t damage your walls and the boards are so lightweight they should easily hold them up.

I went with old fashioned nails to hang mine. If you are using nails, I suppose you could skip the wire altogether and just push the foam right onto the nails sticking out of your walls.

The finished product looks excellent, and my little man loves admiring my work. He loves pointing to the the different images and identifying the animals. I enjoy the art and color that greets me when I walk in his room, that it didn’t cost me a fortune and that I don’t have to worry about these falling down and hurting him.

By Laura K.

Laura was born and raised in the pine barrens of southern New Jersey. She now lives in the wine country of Northern Virginia with her husband, son, and pug dog. She is a stay at home mom right now and loves spending her time on all things artistic.

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8 Responses to DIY Silhouette Art

  1. I absolutely love these!!! I wonder if I could find super hero silhouettes?

  2. Great tutorial! I’d love to try this sometime :)

  3. What a great and inexpensive idea!

  4. Love this! It seems pretty easy too, maybe even I could do it. Did you go back and paint in detail on the animals? For example, the turtle’s shell.

    • Yes, the inner details I painted by hand with a small brush. If you’re not confident in your painting skills you could use transfer paper to trace the lines then paint over them. Another option is to trace them with a dull pencil pressing hard enough to dent the foam. It will leave the marks to guide you when you take the paper away.

  5. What a great idea. My 2 year old loves animals, and i think i’m going to do this for her room!

  6. Adorable! I have the same question as Lindsay regarding the details on the turtle’s shell. Such a cute idea and great budget saving way to add art to your little one’s space! LOVE this!

  7. Pingback: Evie's Out to Sea Nursery and Giveaway Mama Say What?!

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