photoshop creative

How to create a silhouette effect in Photoshop

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
June 13, 2013

This free tutorial uses Photoshop Elements, but can be done in any version, and creates a realistic silhouette effect against a sunset image



Silhouette effect

Start photo from 

Step 1

We can afford to be rough with the initial selection. Use the Quick Selection tool to draw over each subject one by one to select them. If any areas need removing, just hold Opt/Alt and click over those parts.




Step 2

Go to the Layer menu and down to New Adjustment Layer> Levels. Hit OK in the pop-up box to apply a new adjustment layer to your image. Notice how the layer’s mask contains the selection made earlier.




Step 3

Inside the Levels adjustment head to the Output Levels bar. Drag the white arrow inwards until it reads around 90. This will dim the subjects, making it seem as though they are silhouettes in your image.




Step 4

To soften the edges of the silhouettes, go to Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur with the mask selected in the palette. Apply a Radius of 1px and hit OK. Zoom in to check the results.