Painting a Silhouette

How to say that? It is ‘Silu -et’. That’s right! I am not talking about a soft fabric but a technique of painting. Silhouette is also a popular method in photography. It is an object or profile in dark black against a very bright source of light, usually the Sun.

To understand it better, do a small experiment. Take a camera and try clicking pictures of any object with the Sun at Sunrise and Sunset. The object will always come dark. On the other hand if you click in the other direction where the Sun illuminates the object, we get a crisp clear photo with details of the object. That is why they say don’t click against the Sun. Unless of course you want the special effect.

A example of how the photo will be – Image from WordPress Photo Library

The reason is the immense brightness creating a contrast with the object. Thus the object appears completely black or dark with only an outline or profile. A distinct shape of the object will be seen. This is called a Silhouette. Sunrise and Sunset are the perfect backgrounds.

It is a very simple method for painting and can be done by just anyone. No need to know anything about painting. One can paint with any medium of paint. In digital it is super quick to draw one. We can even paint it using markers. Relief techniques as well.

Silhouette Example
The Knight – I painted it digitally to explain Silhouette

It is 3 simple easy steps 1) Decide the placing of the objects 2) Paint the background in colours of yellow and orange 3) Draw the object and colour it in black – as simple as that. One thing to note is the position of the Sun. White followed by lemon yellow followed by orange to red, brown and black. This is the colour blending of the Golden Sky.

Silhouette Example 2
Yoga Pose – Another one that I painted digitally

Drawing the object directly seems difficult? Let’s make it even easier. Download a ‘Silhouette’ of the object, print it and cut it. Place it on your drawing and mark the outline. Now paint it black. We can use a stencil also. For a first timer it is ok to use assistance. Once we understand how to paint it we will be able to do it without any assistance.

It is like the learning side wheels in a bicycle. We can let them off once we learn to ride. It helps overcome the stigma ‘I can’t paint’. A beautiful blend of colours with a distinct object highlighted. The colour on the outside and the object in single solid colour – Silhouette. The internet has ample images for inspiration. Choose something you like.

I paint them digitally because it is super quick. Beach scenes or by the sea shore are best drawn using this method. One of my favourites to paint would be the Knight holding the flag and the other is a famous scene from the movie ‘The Lion King’ where Mufasa roars from the top of the cliff. A woman standing at the cliff point with open arms and breeze blowing through her hair is another one I like to paint.

Painting Silhouettes is easy and hence can also be very easily replicated and copied. Hence, I don’t sell them at my shops. Decided to do a post on them for learning and understanding. One can always paint them for their learning without any worries OR If photography is your area of interest, try clicking some pictures.

Have an Arty Weekend!

Published by #artistniralimehta

Nirali is an Artist doing Art and Illustrations both hand drawn as well as digital. She is a trained professional with good work experience in her field. She masters various art styles and has shops on Etsy, Redbubble, Society6 all three by the same name ‘NMartworks’

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