Silhouette is a form of art which became popular in the 18th and 19th centuries as an effective alternative to portraiture. It is the image of a person, animal, object, or scene represented as a solid shape of a single color with its edges matching the outline of the subject, a featureless interior and presented on a light background.
As time went by, the use of silhouettes evolved. They can now be used for various reasons such as in graphic design. Enter silhouette patterns, which can be a great tool to create stunning images and inspire fantastic creative ideas. On this page, we have collected several Free Vector Patterns of silhouettes that you can download and use for your projects.
Bird Silhouette Pattern
Black and White Silhouette Pattern
Silhouette Animal Pattern
Conceptual Silhouette Pattern
Cowboy Silhouette Pattern
The History of Silhouettes
The origin of silhouettes is tied to outline and shadow drawing, which has been in existence since the caveman days. The history of silhouettes is discussed below.
- It started during the prehistoric days. It is said that the use of silhouettes originated back in the cave murals of the Stone Age people where they were achieved by tracing the outline of an object’s shadow and filled in with color.
- It was carried over to the ancient civilizations. These representations are then seen as more developed images in tomb paintings, relief sculptures, and pottery decoration of the ancient Egyptians, Mesopotamians, and Minoans, among others.
- It was modified by 17th-century Europe. The Greeks and Romans were able to devise other methods by drawing the shadow cast by the light from the sun, a candle or a lamp, which were then painted on diverse materials and mounted.
- It gained notoriety during the Renaissance. Various mechanical devices were invented and use to make accurate outline drawing. When paper became available, shadow portraits were cut out and used as personal mementos.
- It was recognized as popular art in the 20th century. After becoming a type of folk art in the 19th century, silhouette art was then used by Walt Disney for his animated cartoons, and other artists use them for poster art and book illustrations.
While you’re here, you may also want to check out Black & White Patterns for more ideas.
Silhouette Flower Pattern
Boy and Girl Silhouette Pattern
Black and White Horse Pattern
Silhouette Butterfly Pattern
Beautiful Girl Silhouette Pattern
The Uses of Silhouettes Nowadays
Nowadays, silhouettes are used for various reasons and occasions. Some of them are:
- As illustrations. Pictures depicting scenes, known as paper cuts, were used by book authors book illustrations as they are cheaper to produce that color plates and lasts longer than detailed black and white illustrations.
- In entertainment. Shadow theaters were part of the traditions of orient nations, which has also become a popular entertainment in Paris in the 19th century. The shadow play is a form of storytelling that uses cutout figures.
- In photography. One way to photograph people, objects, and landscape elements to create a dramatic image is to take a picture against the light. The background light can be from a natural setting such as a cloudy sky or a sunset.
- In graphic design. Silhouettes have been used from the early days in advertising, such as poster design and other product designs because they are cheap and can easily be printed and make negative spaces on designs striking.
Do not forget to check out our collection of Seamless Patterns available on this website!