Making Pop Art with Photoshop

Using the Pop Art Photoshop feature is a great way to create images reminiscent of the 50's and 60's. Pop art is a genre of art that emerged in the 1950's. Its most common characteristics are commercial-like qualities infused with bright colors. Some of the more recognized artists are Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg and Mel Ramos. In this tutorial, we will recreate the comic strip style of Lichtenstein complete with Half Tone Shading.

Materials Needed

  • Photoshop software program
  • Image files

Step 1: Select the Image

In Pop Art, most images used focus on a single point of interest and do not have much background detail. Any photo can be used, but one that has detailed lines will work best with this effect. Once you have selected an image, open it using Photoshop. 

Step 2: Create Layers

To create the Half Tone Shading found in most pop art images, you will need to start by creating three separate layers. This first layer will be the background layer, which is the original image. Duplicate the image and rename the image 'dots'. Next, create another layer and fill it using the Paint Bucket Tool with the color you want to use and name it 'color'. You should now have three different layers open and ready to edit.

Step 3: Creating Half Tone Shading

Isolate the subject in the image using the Pen Tool. Set the tool to Create a Work Path and outline your subject. Once the outline is complete, select Invert and the Delete to completely remove the subject from the image. Using an image with detailed lines will give the best results when working on this step. Next, Desaturate the layer by pressing Ctrl + Shft + U. This will remove all color from this layer.

Adjust the Threshold by choosing Image > Adjustments > Threshold adjust as needed to create more contrast in the image. Smooth the layer using Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Right click on the layer to Duplicate and send to New Document. In the new document choose Image > Mode > Greyscale and click OK. Change Mode to Bitmap by selecting Image>Mode>Bitmap. Flatten layers when prompted and select Halftone Screen in the options window. Adjust the Frequency to determine the size of the dots. Change the Mode to Grayscale and then back to RGB and duplicate the layer and send back to original document. You can now close the second document you created.

Step 4: Bring the Image Together

To finalize the image, you will first create a Clipping Path between the new layer you created and the Dots Layer. Press the ALT key and move your mouse cursor between the two layers. When a bubble icon appears, click it to clip the two layers. Next, link the 'dots' and 'image copy' layers and merge the two by clicking CTRL+E. Your image is now finished. If you are happy with the results, flatten all layers and save.

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