DIY

Albany Skyline

Skyline Completed

City Skyline Wall Art

I was looking for a way to integrate colors from other items in our living room and I came up with the idea of silhouette art. My hometown Albany, NY happens to have a pretty distinct skyline so I decided to recreate it with a few different shades of paint.

Cost: Free! I scrounged together materials I had for this one

Time: 2.5 hours

DIY Skyline Silhouette Materials

Materials:

  • Large photo or photo paper (anything laminated that you don’t mind cutting into would work too)
  • Paint
  • Paint brush
  • Scissors and/or x-acto knife
  • Painting tape
  • Cutting board
  • Backing board

Lessons Learned:

  • Next time I might try spray paint
  • I originally tried this on poster board and the paint wrinkled the sheet so I used the backing that came with the frame.

Step 1: Find and print your image

albany new york city skyline vector silhouette illustration

I used the above image of downtown Albany. I printed it on two 8.5×11 sheets of paper and taped them together.

Step 2. Tape the back of the photo paper

Photo paper with painting tape

I taped the photo paper by adding rows of tape until I had enough to cover the skyline image. I used the back of photo paper because it is easier to remove painting tape from than regular paper.

Printed Skyline

Next I attached the printed skyline on top of taped photo paper with masking tape.

Step 3. Paint the backing board

Painted backing board
I covered the backing board with the color I was planning to use for the closest buildings at the bottom of the skyline. In general I would expect darker colors to depict the buildings that are closest and progressively lighter shades to reflect those that are farther away.

I did this when most work gets done in my house – in the dead of night – so I painted on top the stove and used the stove light to see what I was doing. I painted with wall paint because it looks very uniform and I added a second coat of paint to make sure the board was evenly covered. I knew I’d be adding a photo matte so I didn’t worry about painting all the way to the edges.

Once I finished painting it occurred to me that the stove also has a fan so I turned that on to speed things along.

Step 4. Start cutting your tape

Cutout Tape in the shape of the Skyline
While the paint was drying I used an x-acto knife to cut out the bottom level of the skyline over the cutting board. I skipped some of the more intricate details like flags on top of buildings.

Step 5. Attach tape to painted backing board 

Peeling off Tape

As I was peeling the tape off it kept sticking to itself so eventually I ended up cutting the tape in half and attaching the two halves separately.

Matte over taped backing board

Once I attached the tape to the backing board I placed the matte on top of the tape to make sure the skyline would hit where I wanted it to within the frame.

Step 6. paint again

Second Layer of Paint Over Tape
For the next round of paint I used a color that was similar to the first one but brighter and lighter. Spray paint would be a good option here. If you are painting with a brush your best bet is to start on the tape and paint upwards to minimize paint seeping under the tape. Once again I made sure the entire board was covered aside from the edges and I used two coats of paint.

Step 7. Repeat steps 4-6

Second and third layers of tape and paint
I cut out the individual buildings and fit them into the painting along with some extra tape at the bottom to make sure there was no gap between layers of buildings. I only bothered to paint the lightest peach color over the left hand side of the board where I knew the four buildings in the third level would go.

Disclaimer: picking the tape off of the smaller individual building cutouts is one of the more time consuming and agitating parts of this project.

Step 8. Paint the background

Dark Blue Background Painted onto Backing Board
I used a dark blue color for the background. As soon as I had the final layer of buildings taped down I painted from the bottom up and covered the entire board.

Step 9. Remove the tape

Tape Removed
This was the fun part – I just peeled off each layer of tape to get to the completed image.

Final Skyline Touch Ups
There were a couple of rough areas where the paint got under the tape so I spent a few minutes touching it up before I called it a night.

Skyline Completed
Here’s the completed skyline in the frame. Overall I was pretty happy with how this one turned out.

Alternatives

Baby Toss Silhouette Art DIY

A simpler approach is to select an image with a cute and recognizable silhouette and choose two colors. I used this same technique to recreate a photo of my husband tossing our son in the air when he was six months old. I knew the outline of those thigh rolls would be unmistakable.

Living Room Photo Ledges

Both the silhouette skyline and the silhouette baby toss have found a spot alongside our living room photo ledges.

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