DIY: Watercolor Silhouette

I took the girls to the zoo this weekend and I had some fun FINALLY experimenting with my zoom lens. It was cool to take some photos of something other than the kids for once. So, I came home with some cool animal shots and I was trying to think of something to do with them here on Prudent Baby. Here is a DIY for these little watercolor silhouettes that I made.

FULL DIY and FREE animal images for download after the jump.

What you need:

• Print outs of Animals or any subject with an interesting silhouette. With a bouquet of flowers you could do something beautiful like this.

• Watercolor paper

• Watercolor paints (2-3 colors will do)

• Brush

• Xacto blade or small scissors

• Masking tape

1. Print out your image to fit comfortably on your watercolor paper with room around.

2. Cut out your animal with as much detail as possible (but don’t go crazy, note I skipped the hair on the elephant’s back. )

3. Position your cut-out and trace with your pencil. Try to keep your pencil line light.

Give your subject a surface to stand on so he doesn’t float.

4. Tape your watercolor paper down to a piece of cardboard or art board all the way around the very edge.

5. Use your brush to wet the entire background around your animal. I didn’t go all the way to the edge and tried to leave a few small spots dry. Tip: you can tint the water lightly with watercolor paint so that you can see where you have missed.

4. Load your brush up with wet paint and touch your brush to the paper. The paint will spread but only on the wet areas. Add more paint. Move the board around to help the paint spread. Use your brush to cheat your paint into smaller details.

Tip: Try to continue the tone “behind: the animal. For example: If the left side of the trunk is purple, continue on the right side of the trunk with purple.

5. Step back and squint.  Can you see your animal clearly? Is the background too bright? Too busy? If so, brush over the entire background with a wet brush to mute and blend the background.

6. Let your painting dry completely before removing tape carefully.

Images for download…




Really fun!
I think Ill do it again, But next time ill cut out the silhouettes after painting and put a clean sheet of white under it.
I was having too much fun swirling colors, and my lines aren't as clean as I would like.


We're using this idea to make some art for our living room wall. I've been playing with watercolors all afternoon and have almost finished the 5th "painting." Once they're dry, we're going to do a high-quality scan of each and paste silhouettes of different kinds of trees onto our scans, then print them out and frame them! Cheating, yes, but little easier than cutting and tracing all the tree branches, I think…


regina that sounds like such a fun and fabulous afternoon, painting and decorating. i can't wait to see you artwork, if you don't send us a picture i will cry.

leaf and letter handmade

so beautiful! you could also make it easier for kiddos by tracing the outline of the animal (or coloring him all in) with white crayon. then even if the paint touched, it wouldn't show up!


hmmm… can we combine two projects? this one and the decorated step stool?!

(i dont know much about the mod podge… would that work?)


I just did this with my kids 9 and 4. I did trace the outlines with white crayon to make it easier for them. Wow they turned out beautiful! I know what we will be making for their grandparents for Christmas- one of a kind art work.


I love this idea! I’m making eleven different ones, each with different animals and colors, for Christmas presents. Thanks for sharing this amazing project!


Hello there! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give
a quick shout out and tell you I really enjoy reading
your articles. Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that go over
the same topics? Thank you!

Cindy deRosier

I’m the Editorial Assistant for Fun Family Crafts and I wanted to let you know that we have featured your project! You can see it here:

If you have other kid-friendly crafts, we’d love it if you would submit them. If you would like to display a featured button on your site, you can grab one from the right side bar of your post above. Thanks for a wonderful project idea!


Love this! I can’t paint (at all) but I’d love to & I think even I could manage this silhouette paintings! Thanks for the instructions – this is super cute.

Mr. Sharma's Homework & Assignment Page

[…] Remember: The colours you choose to emphasize and/or blend in the background will make as strong of a statement about your painting as the blank silhouettes themselves. For some ideas of how it should look, please see more simple examples of watercolour silohouette paintings here. […]


I don’t get what happened after step 3, how do you keep the watercolor from going over to the elephant? How does the water colors stay outside of the elephant pattern?


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