Large-area, nanometer-scale Si field emitters have been fabricated by selective chemical etching of self-assembled Ge islands on Si. Taking advantage of the relatively low etching rate, uniform Ge islands act as virtual nanomasks for the underlying Si substrate. During selective chemical etching, Ge nanomasks shrink into small Ge-core islands, which determine the apex sharpness of the resulting Si pyramidal tips. The results demonstrate that Si pyramidal tips exhibited improved antireflective and electron field emission characteristics compared to as-grown Ge islands. The high field enhancement factor can be attributed to high tip density, nanoscale apex, and well-controlled spacing between Si pyramidal tips. This work offers a low cost alternative for designing and fabricating high efficiency Si-based field emitters or nanodevices.