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Don't let a deadline crunch your creativity: Get inspired by silhouettes!

Added on Sunday 22nd of June 2008 07:21 am EST
Adobe Photoshop CS/CS2/CS3
Operating Systems:
Microsoft Windows, Macintosh

Many of us can’t afford the luxury of time when our bosses demand spontaneous creativity. Whether you’re one to panic—or soar artistically—while under a deadline crunch to produce an artistic masterpiece, you can relax! We’ll show you how to push a silhouette’s potential to maximize your time and creativity, and still meet your deadline!


When you think of a silhouette, you may envision cut-paper art, wrought-iron farm animals, or trendy iTunes advertisements. But what you might not realize is how easy it is to make silhouette art using Photoshop and how much of a punch you can pack into your designs when you incorporate silhouettes, as demonstrated in Figure A. So before you waste hours trying to come up with something new, let’s explore the many different ways you can vary up silhouettes for dynamic art that’s sure to please.


Silhouette history
Silhouette art rose to popularity in the early 1700s because of a Frenchman named Etienne de Silhouette. Early silhouettes were primarily portrait silhouettes, where artists would paint with watercolor paints, Indian ink, or black soot, on canvases of paper, glass, plaster, or ivory. Cut-paper silhouettes became more popular in the 19th century as black paper became more readily available.
              A silhouette is essentially an object’s outline filled in with a solid color, most notably black. However, in Photoshop, you can and should take artistic license to make your silhouette appeal to you and your client.

Silhouette basics
Because the primary silhouette element is the object’s outline, you need to determine the subject to silhouette, and then get to work with your favorite selection method to isolate the shape. The good news: While crisp and tidy selections are always welcome, you don’t necessarily have to make a perfect selection! You’ll be colorizing your silhouette so no need to worry that your imperfect selection will display a fringed edge.
               If you’re using stock art, sometimes you’re lucky enough to find art that someone else has already created a clipping path for. Painting in a selection in Quick Mask Mode is one easy way to isolate an object, but every image is different and will require a different selection method.

Tip: For tips on how to choose the best selection method for your image, see our companion article “Make a better—and easier—selection when you use the right method” in this issue of Inside Photoshop.

Make a silhouette
We’ll walk you through the steps to create the simple, yet effective popcorn silhouette, displayed in the coupon shown in Figure B. To follow along, download the file from the URL given at the beginning of this article and extract the file popcorn.psd. (Images provided by PhotoSpin. Some images modified for educational purposes.) Then, launch Photoshop and open the file, shown in Figure C.



This stock art image already has a clipping path,...


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