Silhouette is defined as "the image of a person, an object or scene represented as a solid shape of a single color, usually black, its edges matching the outline of the subject. The interior of a silhouette is featureless, and the whole is typically presented on a light background, usually white, or none at all." Though simple, silhouettes convey the complicated.
I first became aware of silhouettes as a story telling method when I was a kid of around 11 or 12. I was a big fan of the Blondie Comic Strip and had found some of the old Harvey comic books that had been published during the 1940's and '50's. While I was reading one of them, my Father looked over my shoulder and pointed out something special about the page I was reading. The figures were all in black, but yet you could tell who they were and what they were doing. My 11 year old mind listened and filed this information away, not quite knowing what to do with it but instinctively knowing that it was important.
|From Chic Young's Blondie #93, August 1956, published|
by Harvey Comics
Though the years, I occasionally used silhouettes in some of my comic pages, but just threw them in there to cut down on drawing more details, or for the sole purpose of adding my black to pages.
It wasn't until an editor at DC Comics looked at some of my work, that I realized how significant silhouettes were. He pointed right to one of mine, called it "breathtaking" and cited examples of Darwyn Cooke and Mike Mignola as masters of blacks and silhouettes. While I had used them occasionally, I had not thought of it in those terms. Now I try to add at least one silhouette to each page I draw.
I'v decided to go a bit beyond that lately. In an attempt to experiment more with what I'm creating, I've started to do little water color paintings with silhouetted figures.
I'm not sure where this is leading, but it's going somewhere. If nothing else, It shows how something simple can even be dramatic.