Recently I decided to throw my hat into the silhouette rage. But I added a little personal touch in the end. The subject, Kosmo, my 9-year-old, bouncing bundle of Shiba Inu energy. Here’s how I did it:

Step One: Take a Profile Photo.

It’s more difficult than you think to get your dog to look away from you in the right direction without anyone to help. Take plenty of photo’s, a dozen even, with flash or without, whatever looks good to you.

Step Two: Erase the Background.

After I chose the best image for a profile, I used Photoshop to erase the background. I should have had more of Kosmo in the photo. See all that negative space in front of him? But this was the best photo I had and I wasn’t willing to repeat this step. So my creative wheels were turning.

Step Three: Turn Your Subject Black

In Photoshop, again, this is a quick and easy step. Color your subject black and it’s pretty fast and fulfilling to see it almost done.

Step Four: Print on Cardstock
Step Five: Cut Your Subject Out

Some may print and stop right there. Even though you can use fade resistant ink in your printer, I just feel better having this on black paper. That’s also how it was done years and years ago, before the invention of digital. Print on a nice heavy cardstock as this will be used for tracing. After you cut the image, you’ll notice the edges of the paper are very noticeably white. The white edges won’t look quite right, so…

Step Six: Trace on Lightfast Black Quality Paper

Lightfast means it’s not prone to discolor when exposed to light. Available at any art supply store, ask a retail associate if you can’t identify if the paper is lightfast. Many well known paper manufacturers make both, so it’s important to know what you’re purchasing. Once purchased, I suggest labeling the paper in some way so you know, for future projects, which paper is lightfast. I believe I used Strathmore paper, but I can’t say for sure.

Step Seven: Cut

Use scissors, an X-acto knife, a scalpel, or try The Slice Precision Cutter. Have you seen these cool things? I think you either like it or you don’t, depending on what you use it for. I’m not sure I would use it for real heavy cardstock, but it worked for me. I also keep one in my utility/junk drawer to cut coupons and stuff from magazines. Don’t forget to use a self-healing mat to protect your surface! The Slice is less likely to cut you, but it will still cut your table or counter-top.

Step Seven: Mount to Background

I mounted the image to white acid-free cardstock using one of my favorite tools above. You can use matboard too. The 3M ATG Adhesive System is kind of big and clunky, but it really works great and the tape is super strong. Make sure you know where you want to place things before you tape, because there’s no turning back once adhered.

Step Eight: Frame

You see what I mean about negative space? It’s just missing something, don’t you think?

There, a little calligraphy and it magically fixes the problem! With a little Maria Thomas, one of my favorite calligraphers, flare too.

And now it looks perfect for wrapping and giving. What do you think? It’s not the traditional way to see it done, but I think the calligraphy gives it a special, personal touch. Tell me what you think in the comments. Would you buy something like this unframed? If so, how much would you pay? Just curious.