We make a lot of scroll saw projects and most of the time we design all of these patterns ourselves using hand-drawn artwork or digital art that was cobbled together in Inkscape. Other times, we like to make more photo-realistic patterns for our projects. This requires us to take a different approach.
The following steps will show you two different methods we use to make silhouette patterns for use in our scroll projects. Both of these methods utilize the free software Paint.net.
NOTE - We also want to recommend a great resource for finding free public domain images - pixabay.com
Step 1: Watch the Video
The best way for us to show you how we do it is with this quick video we made. If you prefer pictures and text, proceed to the next step.
Step 2: Method 1 - Convert to Black & White
The first thing you'll want to do is load your image into Paint.net. This is done through the "File" menu using the "Open" option. Once your image is loaded, you'll want to got to the "Adjustments" menu and choose the option "Black and White". This will automatically turn your image into a grayscale image. Then you can move on.
Step 3: Method 1 - Adjusting Contrast
Now that you have a grayscale image you will need to increase the contrast. This will basically get rid of any of the gray colors that are left in the image. To do this, you will return to the "Adjustments" menu and choose "Brightness/Contrast...". Once the window opens up, you'll want to increase the contrast to the maximum amount.
Adjusting the brightness is something that will differ depending on the image. You can just play around with this until you get your desired result. Once you are happy, you can move on.
Step 4: Method 1 - Invert Colors
The last thing you need to do is really just to help you save on ink. In the first image you can see that this would be a lot of black to print out and would be pretty much useless. The trick is to invert the colors so the white becomes the black. You can do this through the "Adjustments" menu by selecting "Invert Colors".
That's it for method 1. You can now play with the image, combine it with others or just print it out.
Step 5: Method 2 - Convert
This step is the same as the first method. You just need to convert the image to a grayscale, black and white image.
Step 6: Method 2 - Levels
This step involves using the Levels tools. Open this by clicking on the "Adjustments" menu and choosing "Levels". You'll notice that there are sliders that you can adjust. You can achieve almost the exact same thing with these sliders as was achieved in method 1, except you retain more control over the result. You can really fine tune it using this method. The goal, as with method 1, is to get make everything either white or black and as crisp as possible.
Once you have it where you like it, you can click okay and then repeat the Invert Colors option from method 1.
Both of these methods work great for getting a silhouette pattern. We prefer method 2 since it gives us more control.
Hope this was helpful in some way. Thanks for checking it out.