Vana Chupp, author of Silhouette Art, approached me about doing a feature on silhouettes for Family Circle. It's a solid trend that's really held on and with good reason. After using Vana's instructions to make a classic paper silhouette, I decided to branch out and use a variety of materials. For the feature (Shadow Play, in the September issue of Family Circle), I made silhouettes from matte adhesive vinyl (found on Etsy), cardstock covered posterboard, acrylic craft paint, and iron-on transfer paper.
They were all easy to work with, but sometimes the finer details of crafting are left out of magazines due to space considerations, so I wanted to expand on the topic of creating a silhouette for iron-on transfer paper. You can start with a photo or illustration, just as you would with any other material, but what you see on your computer screen is what will print on your iron-on transfer paper, so if you want a true silhouette you'll have to color and fill in your illustration using a program like Photoshop, and eliminate the background as well.
I am by no means an expert in Photoshop, and it was an easy enough task since I was able to complete it. But since I'm not an expert, I sought out some tutorials to walk you through the process. I've also included some mushroom illustrations from Vintage Printable. You can start with something like these and end up with silhouettes like the ones shown above. Also, if you know some of the basic commands on Photoshop, you can flip your images or move them around to create your own unique images (for instance, the mushroom grouping on the cream colored pillow started out as a trio, but I added additional mushrooms to fill out the design).
Mushrooms may not be your thing and you might not care for a pillow, but this basic technique is suitable for all kinds of subjects and fabric applications. Use your transfers for T-shirts or tote bags, book or photo album covers, cloth storage boxes, etc. And if you want a fresh interpretation of a classic, your silhouettes can just as easily be printed in color instead of black.
Without further ado, here are the tutorials. There are different ways to achieve the same result, so I've included a few and you can choose what's easiest for you. Just keep in mind that you'll be printing your finished digital design on iron-on transfer paper and you'll want to flip the image horizontally before printing (you'll be placing your iron-on transfer face down on your fabric). Have fun!
How to Create a Silhouette with Photoshop:
*Another good source for illustrations and silhouettes is Clipart.com. You can get a 7-day subscription for $15 (unlimited downloads), which is a good deal if you have multiple images that you're looking for. You can also browse their site before you commit to a subscription, so you can make sure they have what you want.
Title photo by Wendell T. Webber for Family Circle