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How to make silhouettes using an overhead projector

Updated April 17, 2017

Silhouettes are a traditional keepsake that combine art and nostalgia. Many parents have immortalised their children in these simple yet elegant treasures. Silhouette artists are still in demand, but their sessions can be expensive. Save time and money by creating your own silhouettes using an overhead projector and some basic art supplies.

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  1. Hang the sheet of drawing paper on a flat surface, such as a wall or chalkboard. Have the subject sit in front of the paper while you hang it so that it will be at the correct height.

  2. Make the room as dark as possible. Turn on the overhead projector and adjust its focus and height until the light is in the centre of the drawing paper.

  3. Have the subject sit on the bar stool and turn to the side. Leave room between the subject and the wall so that you can see his shadow on the paper.

  4. Trace the outline of the subject's shadow with the pencil. Include as many of the shadow's details as you can.

  5. Turn off the projector and take down the paper. Erase any stray pencil marks, then cut around the outline that you traced.

  6. Mount the silhouette on the poster board using glue or another adhesive. Display as desired.

  7. Tip

    The subject's shadow should not fill up the entire paper so that the finished silhouette will fit on the poster board. Use a craft knife to cut around the finer details of your outline, such as the subject's hair.


    Have your subject keep her eyes closed to avoid the bright light of the projector.

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Things You'll Need

  • Overhead projector
  • Drawing paper (18 by 24 inches)
  • Poster board (22 by 28 inches)
  • Pencil
  • Scissors or craft knife
  • Glue
  • Bar stool or other seating

About the Author

Susan Miskelly is a freelance writer and editor living in Rock Hill, S.C.; she specializes in a wide variety of topics, including travel, photography and technology. Miskelly is a published children's writer and has diverse experiences in corporate and nonprofit communications and publicity. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in early childhood elementary education from Converse College.

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