Pet Silhouettes!

AKA: My favorite project I’ve ever done ever.

Reasons this project was my favorite:
1) I am fall-down-dead-in-love with the outcome. I would pay money for these. Probably an embarrassing amount of money, to be honest. Because they are adorable, super personal, feeding into my obsession with my pets, and look amazing in my office (I’m nothing if not modest, hah).

2) The cost was incredibly low. I paid a total of $12.36 for THREE 12×12 hand painted canvases. That’s my kind of cheap. (And I have a paintbrush I can re-use and one extra canvas included in this cost)

3) It was one of those rare projects that went exactly as planned. No big surprises or issues, it didn’t take very long at all (we’re talking 3 episodes of Breaking Bad, that’s it!), and I could do it while watching TV.

So, enough patting myself on the back… here’s how it went down. As with all awesome things in the year 2012, this begin with pinterest. I saw this photo, which I liked well enough to pin but didn’t excite me enough to take any real action.


But then a blog I read regularly posted these silhouettes, and while I didn’t dig the subject matter, the bright colors caught my eye and got the wheels in my brain turning. Especially because I knew I was going to want to find a way to bring some bright colors around other parts of my now-grey office.


Thus, the idea was born for super bright silhouettes of the animals and I got moving on making it happen! I already had the paint I planned to use, because I still had plenty of teal paint left over from my desk project , and I decided to use the leftover green from our kitchen for contrast.

So, yes– I did this with normal eggshell wall paint and enamel furniture paint. Worked fine! You definitely do not need to spend money on much more expensive oil paints to do this project— pretty much any paint you have laying around will probably work.

Next I needed something to paint on. I considered buying some wood at Lowes and just cutting it to size (mostly because I’m cheap), but I thought before I went to the trouble of doing that I’d just see how much canvases at Michael’s cost. Well— super shock because they were CHEAP. I bought these.

They were $7.99 for a pack of two, but they were on sale buy-one-get-one-free so I ended up with FOUR canvases for $8. At $2 a pop, they were definitely worth buying (maybe even cheaper than wood, and I wouldn’t have to prime them first!). I also bought a small paint brush because I knew my 2″ edging brush wasn’t exactly going to get the job done.

Total cost for 4 canvases and a paint brush?

$12.36!! Things were getting off to a great start.

When I got home, I set three of the canvases out on brown paper bags and got to painting. Edges first, so that I could hold them down from the top while painting the edges.

Then just paint the whole thing with a normal paint brush. I just did one coat. There were a few tiny streaks which could’ve been solved with a second coat, but I actually kind of liked the slightly streaky look so I left it.

While those were drying, I got to silhouette-making. I found photos of each of the pets that had a good profile. Then I used photo editing software to convert them to black and white, decrease the quality, increase the contrast, and sloppily erase most of the background. I did this primarily because I’m cheap and I didn’t want to waste a ton of ink on our home printer making three big photos when I only cared about the shape. If you don’t have the software to do this, just print a normal photo out with a good profile and it will be fine! Here is the photo of Milo, so you can see how it looked when I printed it.

Then I held each photo up against the window and traced the outline of the pet with a pen. When I was done, it looked like this.

I did this for two reasons. First, I wanted to make sure that the silhouettes looked right. Sometimes it is hard to tell whether or not a photo will work for a silhouette just by looking at it, and I wanted to find out at this stage rather than when my painting was half done. Second, this would make it easier to do the next step, which is taking a pencil (PENCIL, not pen) and scribbling all over the the outline. (you could just scribble all over the back of the photo, but that’d take a lot longer).

By this point, the three canvases were dry and ready to go! I simply took them one at a time, laid the photo face-up on the canvas in the position I wanted the silhouette to be in, and traced the outline right on top of the photo so that the lead on the back of the page would transfer to the canvas. Note: I stuck 2 DVDs under the canvas before I started tracing because it gave me a more solid surface to trace on. When I was done, it looked like this.

From there, it was just a matter of verrrry carefully painting inside the lines. I just went very very slow, because this part was slightly harder than I thought. Or rather, not HARD so much as a little tedious. After one coat, it looked like this.

I did one coat on each, then went back and did a second coat. In total it took me about 5 minutes to paint the canvases the solid colors, 1 episode of Breaking Bad to find/edit/print the photos I wanted to use, and 2 episodes of Breaking Bad to prepare the silhouettes and paint two coats of each image. So, just over 2 hours start to finish for THREE canvases!

And how did they turn out? Wonderfully!

Love!!!!! Can’t even express how much I love these. Here is a view from the corner of the room.

And as you walk into the room…

They turned out just as I had hoped. The perfect bright pop of color to contrast against the new grey walls. Now I almost can’t wait to figure out something to paint on the fourth canvas!

Maybe I just need to convince B that we need a second dog!


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