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Making a silhouette graphic

You need to use the 'pen' tool from the vector graphics pallet to trace the outline of an image. You can then fill that outline in with black solid clour and you have your shadow shape..

Here is a sheet that summarizes how to use the pen tool - you can print one out and use it as you draw.

Find an image of whatever you want to silhouette. It can be a photo or a graphic. It doesn't matter .Choose one larger than the silhouette you want to produce. When you make your silhouette you will then make that smaller and get smoother lines on the reduction.

Open a Fireworks document and import your graphic. I am using a Garfield picture with kind permission from the copyright holder PAWS. I am using it with acknowledgement that it is their creative property and have all rights reserved on it.

You then need to create a second layer for that picture. You are going to trace the outline onto that layer so that you have the overall shape - but none of the detail.

On the right hand side of your screen the layers window should appear - if it does not you can go to windows and open it.

Click on your graphic and make it about 50% transparent.

You will see the image fade...

It is a good idea to lock your original layer so that you can only draw on layer 2.

Select the Pen tool, set the stroke to solid and the fill to void (in the properties box), and start clicking your way around the outline. Press down to drag out Bézier handles when you want a curve; you can adjust the exact curvature later. Most of your points will be curves; for the few acute or obtuse angles you can just click to make a corner point.

If you make a mistake, choose 'Undo'. When you get all the way round, click on your starting point to close the curve.

When it is finished click on any dot on the outline path to select it and then 'fill' with black solid.

Lock that layer and the select your first layer. - delete that original graphic and you are left with your silhouette. Resize it to whatever size you want.

It took me about five minutes in total to do my Garfield shadow! As I had used a large picture I did not have to make any 'curves' at all - my straight line clicks were fine as I was reducing its size so much.

The problem I met was that I had a white line around my 'gif'. I therefore reloaded it into Fireworks selected 'filters' 'adjust colour' and 'invert' - I then got a white shape with a black line - I then filled the shape with black.

Silhouettes can be used as symbols - buttons and shadows. They do not take long to do... and they will be copyright free primary graphics - unless you make a silhouette that is an instantly recognizable one like Mickey Mouse - or Garfield! To use those you would need the permission of the copyright holder.