How to create a silhouette

A silhouette is an image of an object, such as a person or animal, represented as a solid dark shape in front of a lighter background. You can achieve this effect with a camera by photographing a backlit object — with the light coming from behind the object. And using Pixelmator Pro, you can also easily create the same effect manually! Let’s see how.

To follow along with the tutorial, you can download the images we’re using.

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Step 1

Select the object to be silhouetted

Start by making a selection of the object you’d like to turn into a silhouette. If you’re following along with our images, open the image named Silhouette. The Quick Selection tool is usually the best for tasks like this but depending on the object you’ll be selecting, feel free to try different selection tools.

Tip

For more on selecting and copying objects, see Copy an object from one image to another.

Step 2

Turn the selection into a shape

We could create a silhouette by simply filling the selection with a solid color but we’ll try another method — turning the selection into a shape. This way, if you put the silhouette against a different background in a larger image, you can resize it without losing quality. To turn a selection into a shape, Control ⌃‑click the selection and choose Convert into Shape.

Note

To see the Convert into Shape option in the canvas shortcut menu, you must be using one of the selection tools, as different types of tools can have different shortcut menus. You can also always find the command in the Format menu at the top of your screen: Format > Convert into Shape.

Step 3

Style the silhouette

To change the color of the silhouette, you’ll need to change the style of the shape. To do that, choose the Style tool (S) and make sure only the Fill style is selected with the color set to solid black — #000000.

If the edges of the silhouette look a little too sharp, you can add a very small amount of Gaussian blur to soften them. 0.5 px or 1 px should be enough to make the edges more realistic. To do that, choose Format > Effects > Blur > Gaussian and set the Radius to 0.5 px or 1 px.

Step 4

Paste the silhouette into a new image

After styling it, make sure the silhouette layer is selected and choose Edit > Copy or press the Command ⌘C keyboard shortcut. If you’re following along with our images, open the image named Evening Sky. If you’re using your own photos or looking for something suitable online, the photo should have the right lighting for a silhouette — usually, this means the light source should be directed towards the camera.

Once you’ve opened the image, choose Edit > Paste or press the Command ⌘V keyboard shortcut. Choose the Arrange tool (V) and move and resize the layer as needed.

And there you have it — a very convincing-looking silhouette!

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