Today, I’ll teach you how to create a silhouette in Photoshop in not one but three easy ways! In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to use the Pen Tool, the “Select > Subject” technique, and the Quick Selection Tool in Photoshop. By using these methods, you will see how quick and easy it is to make a silhouette in Photoshop.
What You’ll Learn in This Silhouette Photoshop Tutorial
- How to use the Pen Tool to create a silhouette with smooth curves in Photoshop
- How to apply the Select > Subject technique for people with straight hair
- How to use the Quick Selection Tool for people with curly hair
What You Will Need to Turn a Photo into a Silhouette in Photoshop
1. How to Use the Pen Tool to Make a Silhouette in Photoshop
Let’s start with the first silhouette Photoshop method. The Pen Tool method is perfect for outlining smooth curves. It’s easy and effective with silhouettes that are not as defined (i.e. people with curly hair).
Open the portrait of the black Muslim woman in a hijab in Photoshop.
Zoom in (Command – +) on the portrait so that your outline will be accurate as possible. Select the Pen Tool (P) and make a point on your subject by clicking your mouse. Make another point by clicking and dragging your mouse to make a curve like the image below.
Continue the previous step until the entire person is outlined with the Pen Tool.
Create a New layer above your portrait layer.
With the Pen Tool selected, right-click your mouse and select Make Selection. Click OK. Make sure your dialog box looks like the one below.
Select the Paint Bucket Tool (G), change the foreground color to #FFF1CF, and fill the inside of your silhouette by clicking anywhere inside of what we call the “marching ants.”
To get rid of the marching ants, select the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) and click anywhere on the image. Now, let’s remove the original image by selecting the Eye icon on the Layers panel. This will make that layer invisible. Create a new Solid Color layer and use #FEBA01 to fill the background.
Now you know how to make a silhouette in Photoshop with the Pen tool. Let’s jump into method #2, where I will teach you how to easily select a person with straight hair and create a silhouette.
2. How to Quickly and Easily Select a Person in Photoshop and Create a Silhouette
Let’s see how to turn a photo into a silhouette in Photoshop in a few clicks. The Select > Subject technique is a one-click selection that will mask your subject in no time. This method is perfect for people with curly or straight hair, and it even works on images with busy backgrounds.
Open the portrait of the lady wearing the hat in Photoshop. With the portrait layer selected, go to Select > Subject.
With the Pen Tool still selected, right-click your mouse and select Make Selection. Make sure Subtract from Selection is marked. Click OK.
Zoom out of your image by using Command -. Add a layer mask to your portrait layer while you have it selected.
Double-click the portrait layer so that it brings up the Layer Style box and apply a Color Overlay #F0BCD4.
Create a new Solid Color layer and fill it with #DA4167. Drag and place this layer underneath your silhouette.
You just learned how to turn a photo into a silhouette in Photoshop with a couple of clicks. Your image should look like the one below if you used the portrait I linked to earlier. In method #3, you will learn how to use the Quick Selection Tool to make a silhouette in Photoshop.
3. How to Use the Quick Selection Tool in Photoshop to Make a Silhouette
If you want to learn how to make a silhouette in Photoshop of a person with textured hair, this method is for you. The Quick Selection Tool is not as fast as the Select > Subject technique because it makes you do most of the work. Depending on your silhouette, you may have to go back in using other methods like masking or the Pen Tool to get the perfect silhouette. It’s still a great option to use if your subject is on a plain background or is the main focus.
Open the portrait of the bearded man with glasses in Photoshop. Grab the Quick Selection Tool (W). Click and drag your mouse across the image. Let’s start with the beard. Make sure your tool settings are like the image below.
Continue with the Quick Selection Tool for the rest of the image. The Quick Selection Tool isn’t perfect, so we will clean the image up with the Pen Tool (P). Zoom in (Command – +) on the image and, with your Pen Tool selected, make a smooth outline on his forehead and glasses.
Right-click > Make Selection and make sure Add to Selection is selected. Click OK.
Add a layer mask.
Double-click the portrait layer so that it brings up the Layer Style box, and apply a Color Overlay #0D5C63.
Create a new Solid Color layer and fill it with #43BCCD. Drag and place this layer underneath your silhouette.
Thank you so much for following this quick tutorial on how to create a silhouette in Photoshop using the Quick Selection Tool and other methods.
Throughout this silhouette Photoshop tutorial, you’ve gotten familiar with the Pen Tool, the Select > Subject technique, and the Quick Selection Tool. Use these methods to create your own silhouettes in Photoshop.
3 Must-Have Essentials for Your Silhouettes
Are you looking for resources that will complement your silhouette images? Well, look no further: these add-ons and graphics from Envato Elements are the perfect addition to your silhouettes to make them ‘pop’.
20 Silhouette Lightroom Presets & LUTs (Lightroom, Photoshop)
Presets are the easiest and quickest way to give your photos a nice finishing touch. SparkleStock doesn’t disappoint with their 20 Mobile and Desktop Silhouette Presets available for Lightroom. Instead of a generic silhouette, create dynamic images using presets like Flame, Sunset, Reyleigh, and so much more.
Procreate Tree Silhouette Stamp Brushes (Procreate)
Speed up your workflow in Procreate by using these beautifully designed tree silhouette stamp brushes created by BrushBoy. These ten tree silhouette brushes are perfect for creating natural scenes for your illustrations.
People Silhouettes Icons (AI, EPS)
These silhouette icons made by Jumsoft are perfect to use as avatars for a website, profile placeholders for apps, and so much more. You get a variety of people silhouettes to choose from. Another great thing about these icons is that you never have to worry about a resolution issue because these icons are vector.
Looking for more silhouette tutorials and resources? Then have a look at these articles to get you inspired!