Jenn from Ribbons & Bluebirds is talented in so many ways, that I was pretty anxious to see what she’d show us this week. This lady not only designs and letterpresses stationery, she also makes gorgeous furniture (I know, I can’t believe I just typed that, either), and today, is going to show us how to make a pet silhouette.
Hi! I am super excited to be joining Liz’s Get Creative week with a little DIY fun.
I’ve always enjoyed making things, “art” or no – I started out with crayon masterpieces of mermaids with no arms, transitioned to beads and jewelry, fell in love with photography, and ended up presenting my (architectural) thesis at university though hand-drafting on watercolour. I’ve really focused on paper goods since I began my wedding planning several years ago, and now I run my own small business making custom invitations, taking photos occasionally for friends and family, and generally doing what I do – having a great time making things.
I wanted to offer a DIY tutorial for my post because DIY is so dear to my heart. I could never have created my own letterpress for my wedding invitations without invaluable assistance from tutorials on the internet (proof you can find a tutorial for everything on the internet? Here ya go. Cake toppers!) I racked my brain for what you might be interested in hearing about, and hit upon something that everyone (almost everyone?) loves – pets! Specifically, pet silhouettes, cut out and ready to craft with for greeting cards, framed gifts, etc.
Silhouettes are not always easy, especially with pets as they sometimes fold up onto themselves and become moderately shapeless in profile, so really the key to this project is selecting a good photo to work from. I started trying to use a different photo for little Jeeves the puppy, and as you can see from my struggles with the red sharpie….it just didn’t quite work.
**Those of you who are laughing and saying you would have done this in the computer – feel free! I like to draw the silhouette myself so I can use artistic license to tweak it, but if you want to manipulate the photo to get a silhouette on the computer, go right ahead and we’ll meet you after the next step**
1. I printed out the photo at the size I wanted the final product to be, on plain office paper.
2. Next, I took tracing paper and overlaid the photo, starting by tracing the outline of Kerrigan. Because I wanted to get fancy and show more of her individual markings, I went ahead and left her white fur areas as white in the silhouette. If she had more complex markings, or random splotches, I’m not so sure I would have tried it this way.
3. Once I have my trace outline, I then like to fill it in, just so I don’t forget halfway through which side of the line I am cutting to keep. Also, it gives you a fun preview of how awesome your finished product will look!
4. I tried two ways to attach my trace paper to the black paper I used for the cut out, and spraymount was the far superior method. This shape is way too complicated for tape, as it just tears the paper. Tape is what I used for Kerrigan, and spraymount for the two dogs. Keep in mind that if you use spray mount, you will need to use the back or the black paper as the “front” of your finished silhouette, so if you need your pet facing a certain way, flip your trace paper over before mounting.
5. Once your trace outline is attached to your black paper, slowly and carefully cut out your silhouette using an x-acto craft knife. Start with any interior pieces you might be cutting out, while you have the most extra paper around the edges to hold onto. DO NOT PRESS TOO HARD. Better to drag lightly in one pass and then slighter harder a second time to cut all the way through than to be too forceful the first time, because it is more like to damage you or your project.
6. Flip over to check the back frequently to make sure your cutting is going all the way through and your corners are meeting – this will help make sure the cutout comes out nice and clean, without all the fuzzy tufts at the corners making it look messy. Once you’ve cut everything out, gently detach.
7. Sometimes you might discover that your initial photograph didn’t express the true awesome character of your pet. My puppy Ezio is so fluffy, and I wanted to capture the way he stands with his front legs up and his chest out, as well as his amazing tail. So, I used the front half of one photo, and the back half of another – as long as the scale is right, it turns out well! When you’re cutting someone extra shaggy, like Ezio is, a good way to do it is to overcut the strands of hair, and then trim them down to the right length and shape afterwards.
Now you’re ready to turn your pet portraits into something nice! A festive holiday card? A piece of artwork in your school colours ready for framing? Something to bring to your office as a subtle reminder of your furry friends at home? Enjoy!
Thanks so much, Jenn! I’m already scheming about the different ways I could use a silhouette of Salvador… hmmm…
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