Tuesday, 4 September 2012

How I cut Silhouettes

This is a publicity shot that I took some time ago to demonstrate how a Silhouette Artist creates a silhouette profile.

The whole process takes around 90 seconds to 2 minutes to complete.  The photograph is a little misleading because, at events, I turn the paper over and cut from the white side.  The photo above was 'staged' to show the effect of the black silhouette appearing.  The golden rule with Silhouette artists is that there is no pre-drawing whatsoever.  All the work is done via hand-eye coordination.

As I am right handed, the profile is always a 'facing to the right' view.  The cutting process starts at the bottom right and goes upwards, over the head and down the other side.

Because the paper is folded over, I am left with two silhouettes; one right facing, one left facing.  The client can choose which one they prefer, although they are mirror images of each other.

When I am working at weddings or corporate events my pockets are loaded with many things.  Jacket left inside pocket is where I keep the silhouette paper; the opposite inside pocket is where I store my wallet cards.  These are the little folding cards that the silhouette is presented in.  Any other pocket on my person quickly fills up with paper cuttings.

The pocket loading means that I can be as mobile as possible.  I mix and mingle and place myself at the best angle to get the cut.  In many ways, I use the same procedure as I do with drawing caricatures.  When I first talk to someone I immediately begin to draw the caricature in my head or cut the silhouette in my head.  It only takes a second.  No one realises that when I make the initial introduction that I am already working out how the finished product is going to look.
People get nervous when being stared at, so I work a lot from short term memory.  It works for me I am glad to say.

Well that is all my secrets out.  Maybe I should do a step by step with illustrations.  That may be useful.  Watch this space.


  1. It is such a skill you have Brian... one wrong cut and that's it!!!! Yes a step by step would be really interesting....

  2. My mother has one of these of me as a child... to this day I find it fascinating to look at. I did not know that there were done 'free hand'... now I'm even MORE impressed. I too would LOVE to see a step by step...


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