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The Impact of Silhouettes

June 26, 2018 / Conversation, Inspiration
Impact of Silhouettes

Silhouettes have been part of human expression for thousands of years, going all the way back to ancient China. The power and impact of silhouettes truly define what it means when artists and designers say “less is more.” The basic form of the silhouette removes all detail and eliminates all distractions from what is being conveyed. This allows for a full range of expressions that can be simple or dynamic. Just ask any film director about silhouettes, and how vital they can be in helping to create compelling scenes.

From the suspenseful work of Alfred Hitchcock to the blockbusters of Steven Spielberg, silhouettes are a big part of the movies. In fact, the impact of silhouettes is everywhere. Here are a few examples of how silhouettes can create complex images using only shapes and outlines.

Impact of Silhouettes
Image Courtesy of Pixabay.com

The N.B.A. logo, full of impact and movement, this logo has been going strong for 50 years

Impact of Silhouettes
Image Courtesy of the Girl Scouts via BrandsOfTheWorld.com

The Girl Scouts logo, shows how nested silhouettes can flow seamlessly together

Impact of Silhouettes
Image Courtesy of Pixabay.com

The Apple Computer logo was an instant classic, simple yet very distinct

Impact of Silhouettes
Image Courtesy of Pixabay.com

The walk/don’t walk sign, no language barrier here, only traffic

Impact of Silhouettes
Image Courtesy of thebioscope.net

The shadow of Hitchcock, nobody does it better

Silhouettes also have a positive benefit in real-world applications. In terms of distance and visibility, a good silhouette can stand out, even at long way away. For example, stop signs have a very particular shape, allowing them to be identified even if the sign can’t be read. The cost impact cannot be understated. Silhouettes take less time to produce as am image and typically use less ink to print, as compared to a sufficiently detailed picture of the same size. Then there is time, let’s face it, it’s a rough world out there. It gets cold, it gets hot, some days it’s wet and others it’s as dry as an old bone; the environmental stresses of signage can be brutal. This is where the silhouette really stands out. Fewer details mean that fading and damage do not hurt the impact of the image as severely as what can happen to detailed icons and symbols. In fact examining old, worn, and vintage signs can reveal a remarkable fact, after a good amount of time and weathering, most images turn into silhouettes.