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
- Large photo or photo paper (anything laminated that you don’t mind cutting into would work too)
- Paint brush
- Scissors and/or x-acto knife
- Painting tape
- Cutting board
- Backing board
- 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
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
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.
Next I attached the printed skyline on top of taped photo paper with masking tape.
Step 3. Paint the 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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
This was the fun part – I just peeled off each layer of tape to get to the completed image.
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.
Here’s the completed skyline in the frame. Overall I was pretty happy with how this one turned out.
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.
Both the silhouette skyline and the silhouette baby toss have found a spot alongside our living room photo ledges.