A few years ago I was in a bookstore when a book cover caught my eye:
The Day the Babies Crawled Away by Peggy Rathmann
I should mention that it caught my eye for the illustrations, not the content. In fact, I don't think I have ever read the book aloud to my class.
Instead, I use the book to show examples of how effective a black silhouette can be on a watercolor background. When we look at the illustrations, we talk about the different colors they see in the backgrounds, how the silhouettes have a good balance of being high and low on the page so the background has a chance to shine through.
The first thing I have my students do is create a background using watercolors:
Next, we talk about how a silhouette is just like a shadow. It doesn't show all of the details. It only shows the outline of different shapes. We also talk about how a good balance of high, medium, and low pictures really shows off your background the best.
Then I show them how to draw a few different types of pictures on paper to see how they will turn out:
I have the students draw their picture on black construction paper using pencil. Once their drawing has been approved, I trace their line using a silver Sharpie marker. Then the student cuts out and the silhouette is ready to be glued down to their watercolor paper.
Here are some final projects from my little artists (the paper curled, so some of them were hard to take photos of):
The kids always act surprised when their silhouette is glued down. It's like magic to them to see just how it will look in the end!