DIY watercolor, silhouette, photoshop tutorial, diy tutorial, diy watercolor tutorial

DIY Watercolor Silhouettes

My kids have recently been on a watercolor tear. I just love the way they cover the whole paper in colors using an absolutely reckless amount of water so they all blend and bleed together. I’ve been meaning to jump on the old school silhouette bandwagon for ages now thanks to Pinterest but I couldn’t decide exactly what spin to put on it. I noticed a few masterpieces laying around this week that gave me an idea…

DIY watercolor, silhouette, photoshop tutorial, diy tutorial, diy watercolor tutorial

Even I was a little impressed with the overall coolness of the finished product. But no need to be jealous, just make your own! Here are the basic steps… Start with a photo of your kids profile. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, but there are a few important things to remember… -make sure that the entire outline of their face and head has a plain wall behind it, but it doesn’t matter if there are things on the wall around them -you’ll get the best results if the child is in focus -if your child has dark hair, photograph them on a light wall for better contrast Ok, got it? Here we go… Open your photo in Photoshop. step1See? Stuff on the wall, but it’s no problem because the outline of her whole head is on a plain background. Use the Magic Wand tool to select your child. step2Make sure to use a really big brush. (After you select the Magic Wand tool, you’ll be able to see whether the brush is set to a tiny circle or a giant one, you can adjust the size at the top left in that box with a number under a circle.) My brush was big enough to cover her ear and the hair around it, that was enough that with one click, the magic wand did the rest of the work for me. If it only selects a portion, you can keep clicking around until it adds all the rest. Then click Refine Edge to get the pop up window pictured above. Drag the Smooth slider all the way to the right. It will show you a preview by removing the rest of the background and only showing what is selected with the Magic Wand. Click ok and it will show you the background again. ***Don’t do any other fiddling between the previous step and the next! You should only have one layer and your child should be selected at this point.*** Next, click the “New Layer” box, then click the “Create new fill or adjustment layer” box and choose “Solid Color…” at the top of the list. step3 If you’re good at following instructions, it should look like this now. If it doesn’t, I recommend starting over from the top before you get totally confused and frustrated. Like I tell my kids, “Making mistakes is just a sign that you’re learning something new.” Got it now? Alright, let’s get rid of that background now. Select the “Background” layer (that’s the photo you started with) and then click the “Create new fill or adjustment layer” box and choose solid color again. step4Now pat yourself on the back! You are dangerously close to the coolest part. You can change the color of the background later, so don’t worry your pretty little head about that just now. (Get it, pretty little head? We’re making silhouettes… which are pretty, little heads…) Click “File” then “Place…” and select the photo of the painting that you want to use. step5If you can’t see your painting, or you can only see your painting, then your layers are just in a different order. It doesn’t really matter at this point. While that big X is on the screen, it means you can resize your placed layer. Grab a corner, hold down shift and drag it until it’s big enough to fill in the silhouette. You can also place your arrow outside the bounds of the image and click and drag to rotate the image if you need to. When you’re done, hit enter. No worries, you can always use “Edit>Free Transform” to resize and rotate again later if you want. Here’s where the real magic happens. Move the painting layer to the top. (Just click and drag it in the layers palette on the right.) Then click “Layer>Create Clipping Mask”. step6You still with me? The clipping mask allows the layer to only show within the bounds of the shape you “clipped” it to. You can now select the painting layer and use Free Transform to resize and rotate again to get it just how you like. Now just add the finishing touches… step7Crop the image to the size that you want and add some cool text. The possibilities are endless here! If you get hung up on any of the individual steps, it turns out that Google and YouTube are both masters at Photoshop. 🙂 Just search “photoshop free transform” or “photoshop clipping mask”, etc… and you should get all the help you need. So go make your kid paint something, or scavenge through the piles of art you have stashed somewhere and get to it!

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