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How to Draw a Silhouette

Easy, step by step Silhouette drawing tutorial
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Silhouettes are drawn in profile, or from the side of the face. They resemble a shadow of the subject. You can learn how to draw a silhouette of a woman with the help of this cartoon drawing tutorial.

Silhouettes have a long history. Hundreds of years ago, before the invention of the camera, people who wanted a picture of their loved ones had two choices - portrait paintings or paper silhouettes.

Paintings were very expensive and took a long time to create, with the subject sitting still for many hours, posing for days or weeks. A silhouette artist, however, could make an affordable likeness in just a few minutes.

The silhouette is named for Etienne de Silhouette, a French official of the 1700s. As the minister of finance, "his name was synonymous with doing things cheaply." He also enjoyed crafting silhouettes.

A similar artform was the cameo. Cameos consisted of a carving of a face or other image on a white or cream-colored stone, set upon a colored gemstone or glass bead. Cameos were worn as necklaces, brooches, and other jewelry articles.

You can use this silhouette drawing guide to learn the basics of silhouettes and train your eye to look for sharp, shadowy outlines.

Then, you can employ these skills in drawing personalized silhouettes of your friends and loved ones. How?

After you've practiced with this drawing, you can look at a photograph in profile and sketch the outline of the face.

Or, you can have your friend or relative sit between a bright light and a blank wall. If they sit very still, you can put a piece of paper on the wall and trace their shadow onto it!

If you liked this tutorial, see also the following drawing guides: Woman Side Profile, Lego Batman, and Vegeta from Dragon Ball.

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Step-by-Step Instructions for Drawing a Silhouette

Silhouette drawing - step 1
How to Draw a Silhouette Step 01

1. Begin by drawing a curved line to form the forehead, and a shorter line to indicate the upturned eyelashes.

Silhouette drawing - step 2
How to Draw a Silhouette Step 02

2. Continue to draw the woman's face. Use curved lines to outline the triangle-like shapes of the nose and upper lip.

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Silhouette drawing - step 3
How to Draw a Silhouette Step 03

3. Use a curved line to outline the triangular lower lip and the rounded chin.

Silhouette drawing - step 4
How to Draw a Silhouette Step 04

4. Draw a long curved line from the top of the forehead to outline the shape of the hair.

Silhouette drawing - step 5
How to Draw a Silhouette Step 05

5. Draw another curved line and a straight line to continue the outline of the hair. This is the top of the ponytail or a similar up-do.

Silhouette drawing - step 6
How to Draw a Silhouette Step 06

6. Draw another long curved line, continuing the outline of the ponytail.

Silhouette drawing - step 7
How to Draw a Silhouette Step 07

7. Draw the bottom of the ponytail using a series of curved lines that meet at jagged points.

Silhouette drawing - step 8
How to Draw a Silhouette Step 08

8. Draw a long curved line from the base of the chin to outline the front of the neck. Then, draw a horizontal straight line to complete the bottom of the drawing.

Silhouette drawing - step 9
How to Draw a Silhouette Step 09

9. Draw a series of curved lines from the bottom of the drawing to the base of the ponytail, outlining the back of the neck and head.

Complete Silhouette drawing
How to Draw a Silhouette Step 10

Shade your cartoon silhouette. Traditionally, silhouettes were cut from black paper. You can shade yours in any color you would like.

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The Complete Silhouette Drawing Tutorial in One Image

How to draw: Silhouette - all drawing steps

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