Mastering Silhouettes

(3 customer reviews)


Expert Instruction in the Art of Silhouette Portraiture

Charles has put years of practical experience and historical research into writing this book.

Essential reading for anybody interested in silhouettes, or who simply enjoys stories about historical artists and practical illustrations of the way they worked.

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Mastering Silhouettes: expert Instruction in the Art of Silhouette Portraiture

Mastering Silhouettes explains all the techniques used by Charles to create both modern and period-style silhouettes. The books draws on traditional methods, many of which date back to the eighteenth century. You’ll find advice on how to pose the subject, as well as on materials and techniques.

A series of historical features highlight the working methods of notable silhouettists of the past. Charles describes these artists as his “teachers”. These artists, and their work, then provide the inspiration for one of many practical projects.

The elusive, quirky and sometimes downright odd techniques used by past silhouettists will appeal to those who love period style. Project using mixed-media collage and digital photography bring the art up to date and give it a contemporary relevance.

The book examines silhouette portraiture for every occasion and teaches readers the techniques to make silhouettes for themselves.  It also provides guidance for those who wish to commission an artist to make their own silhouettes, or to book an artist to appear at a special occasion.

Copies of Mastering Silhouettes can be optionally signed by the artist and delivered around the word.

The book is also available on Amazon, where you can read reviews

Weight 530 g
Dimensions 239 × 190 × 10 mm

176 pages printed in full colour throughout


Charles Burns


Fil Rouge Press (UK Edition)
Stackpole Books (US Edition)



3 reviews for Mastering Silhouettes

  1. Lauren Muney

    As a professional silhouette artist already, I appreciate this book by a master silhouette artist and silhouette history enthusiast, Charles Burns.

    This book covers an overview of the major silhouette styles and historical artists, told with charm and grace. I love the stories and creations of the classic artists, interspersed with lessons to try silhouettes yourself.

    And of course, Mr. Burns will most likely join these classic artists on the walls of museums very soon- he is a modern, living master himself.

    One of the biggest takeaways from Mr. Burns himself is to never stop experimenting. From authoring to cutting to social media, and hundreds of silhouette experiments to hundreds of thousands of silhouettes, the author proves that there is no limit on how to imagine (and create) portraits.

  2. Richard Rajmon

    This book is very nicely put together. If you want to go in to deep details (as I do) or just interested with this rare art form, it will definitely help and entertain you.

  3. Emily

    I bought this book in an independent bookstore a few years ago, after my interest in silhouettes as an art form began (after seeing two such artists working live.) I remember being surprised and delighted, as I assumed that it was such a niche topic that a comprehensive book about the subject would not exist. Well, one does, and it is this one. Not just a detailed how-to, but a look at historical silhouette artists, their various methods, and especially the philosophy behind silhouettes, which uniquely capture a person’s essence: not just “copying the proportions of the human face, but effectively altering those proportions to accentuate the likeness”. This is what is so fascinating about all portraiture, but especially so with silhouettes, where that likeness is reduced to line and edge. I still refer to this book as I now cut silhouettes regularly, myself. Buy this book to be amazed and educated by an author who is passionate about his subject.

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