How to create a silhouette from a photograph in Photoshop

by hannah 18,491 views0

silhouette photoshop

In this tutorial you will learn a quick and easy way to create your own silhouettes from Photographs. I use this method a lot as it means that the final shape you create is unique to you, it can then be used in other projects such as this circling animation or can be turned into a shape or brush within Photoshop.

To start, you need to make sure that the original image you choose has the right elements; the item within the photo needs to be central and not be cut off by the edge of the photograph. You need to make sure the object within the photograph is of a good shape without too many blurred edges. The object ideally should be on a plain background or on a contrasting background. It is still possible to use this method with a photograph with a busy background but there will be more manual editing involved, so it will be a longer process.

Step 1.
I have decided to use this photo of a mountain biker.

bike photograph

Step 2.
Duplicate the background layer within the layers palette. (Select background layer and Ctrl J / Apple J and hide the background layer by turning off the visibility). This means that you will be editing the copy rather than the original.

duplicate layer

Step 3.
Choose the quick selection tool from the tool bar (This may be hidden under the magic wand tool).

quick selection tool

And click and drag across the background that you want to erase.

click and drag

Step 4.
You may need to do this in stages. In the tool bar options at the top of the screen, choose the icon with the addition symbol and you will be able to click and drag across multiple areas of the background, adding to the selection.

tool bar options

all selected

Step 5.
With all the background selected, I’ve noticed that the front tyre has been selected as part of the background. (This may be because the busiest part of the background is behind the tyre and so the quick selection tool decided this was part of the background).

not selected

To re-select the tyre change the tool bar option to the minus symbol and click and drag over the tyre or area that you want to take out of the background selection.


deselect tyre

Step 6.
Once all of the background is selected and the bike or object that you want to make into a silhouette is intact you can press delete on the keyboard and this will take the background away.

all areas selected
delete background

Step 7.
Double click the layer in the layers palette and you will open up the layer styles for that layer.

double click

To create a black silhouette, choose colour overlay and the settings below of ‘Normal’ and ‘100%’ Black.

colour overlay

Your canvas should now look like the below.

turn to black

Step 8.
You can now click and drag your silhouette onto another image like this sunset image below or you can turn your selection into a bespoke Photoshop shape.


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