Introduction: Woodcut Silhouette Portrait

Picture of Woodcut Silhouette Portrait

There are a handful of photographs from every relationship that become iconic. Some photos show more than just two people captured in a Facebook photo, and they become visual shorthand for the things you love about one another. The way he leaned, the way she smiled, the interplay between the two of you is somehow perfectly encapsulated in a simple photograph.

This project takes one of those pictures and turns it into something more permanent than a 4x6 Walgreens print with plywood, Illustrator, and some glue.

I made this as a gift for my boyfriend.  It is my favorite picture of us :D

***I made this at TechShop!!

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Picture of Materials and Tools

(2) 20" x 18" x 1/4" Maple board
Wood Glue
Dark Stain: I used MINWAX's English Chestnut stain
Digital Photo

Laser Cutter
Photoshop (photo editing program)
Illustrator (vector drawing program)

Step 2: Photo Manipulation

Picture of Photo Manipulation

I used this tutorial to make a stencil of my photograph.  Make sure you make the background white before you start thresholding the image.

Step 3: Turn Into a Vector File

Picture of Turn Into a Vector File
Save the stenciled image as a .jpg and open it in Illustrator.
  1. Click on the image.
  2. Click the Live Trace button on the tool bar at the top.
  3. Click the Expand button on the tool bar at the top.
  4. Set the outline color to black and the fill color to none.
  5. Manipulate the vertices in Illustrator, or another vector drawing program, to have a file to laser cut.
Now you can laser cut the image.  I won't explain this process, but there are many tutorials online about laser cutting.

Step 4: Putting It All Together

Picture of Putting It All Together

Stain the portion of the image that's black (that would be spray painted in if it were a real stencil). 

Using wood glue, mount the laser cut image to a second board that is the same size as the image.  

You add a wire to the back of the completed image if you like!


angelabchua (author)2012-06-01

awww I love it! What an awesome gift!

poofrabbit (author)2012-06-01

How very cool! What a great gift this would make!

About This Instructable




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