How to Create Silhouette Portraits in Illustrator

It’s time again to put on our design hats and learn a new skill! Today I’m excited to share a tutorial on how to create silhouette portraits in Adobe Illustrator. Learn how to turn a simple picture of a friend or family member into an awesome, vintage momento.

How to Create Silhouette Portraits in Illustrator

The main tools you will be using:

The Pen Tool

Shortcut: P





Paste in Back

Edit>Paste in Back

Shortcut: ⌘B


Minus Front/Subtract

Window>Pathfinder>Minus Front/Subtract


Compound Path

Object>Compound Path>Make

Shortcut: ⌘8

See, how simple is that?

I’ve talked before about how much I love profile silhouettes like these (mostly because of Disneyland). I think that having silhouettes of people you love is just so fun! And, as a designer, it’s a cool challenge to be able to be able to simplify someone’s image while keeping it recognizable.

Now that you know how to design these silhouettes, you’ve got an awesome skill in your arsenal! Just think about how you could put this to use for your mom’s next birthday. You know she would LOVE to have her kid’s silhouettes framed and hanging on the wall! Or, you could make a silhouette portrait for a bride and groom. Now that’s a wedding gift they’ll cherish forever! Creating silhouettes like these would really be perfect for any gift-giving scenario.

Have fun using your new design skills to make awesome silhouettes! Who’s silhouette will you be doing first?

Miss Mandee Signature



How to Create Silhouette Portraits

Commission a piece for yourself

Silhouettes By Miss Mandee


2 Comments on How to Create Silhouette Portraits in Illustrator

  1. Rebecca
    May 2, 2019 at 1:28 pm (5 years ago)

    Hi! I saw your YouTube video and really enjoyed it – thanks for the help! I do have a question. I am printing mine for a frame and wondering about the pixelation. When I look up-close at my printed silhouette, I see tiny separations/pixelations around the edge (all the way around) the profile. Do you think this is due to the size I exported in? (I exported it as a large size silhouette, then downscaled it to be smaller to fit into the frame.) OR is this something I can fix in Illustrator with some sort of smoothing tool? Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!!

    • Mandee
      May 2, 2019 at 2:52 pm (5 years ago)

      Hi Rebecca! Glad you enjoyed my tutorial.

      If you created the designs in Illustrator, you shouldn’t have any issues with pixilation unless it was exported with a low resolution. If you are printing it yourself, you can print directly though the Illustrator software, and you shouldn’t see any of those issues. If you are sending it to a printing company, save it as a PDF if you can—that will help your image retain its smooth texture. If, for some reason, you need to save it as a JPEG or PNG in order to print it, be sure that you export it with a resolution of 300 DPI. 🙂


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