on creating those pop arts

Dante has been bugging me for the article "Create a Pop Art Portrait" by Howard Millard that was featured in Better Photoshop Techiniques Issue 16 ever since he saw my virgin pop art portraits. I am unable to send him a copy of it as I don't think I can find it anymore so I shall attempt to illustrate it step-by-step here SPECIALLY FOR DANTE. Please do pardon this very noobly written guide by a very noob me intended for a noob student.

Firstly, you have to select a suitable photo to work on. This pop art technique works best on photos with strong edges and outlines and good contrast. If your image looks dull / flat / lacks contrast, then try to enhance it first with a Levels / Curves / Contrast Adjustment Layer before going to the next step outlined below.

Below is the image I selected for this exercise.

We will need to convert it into the high contrast black and white image as shown on the left below. In the Layers palette, choose a New Adjustment Layer called Threshold. You will see the window as shown on the right image below. Adjust the Threshold Level until the image shows good bold outlines that you are satisfied you can add in the colours on. I have set it to 165 in this case.

Next step onwards (the adding colour part) is the most tedious part of the whole process (but still very easy so don't worry!). Create a New Layer (icon is shown at the bottom of the Layers palette). Name the Layer according to the part of the photo you are going to apply a particular colour to. For example, I decided to colour all the flowers yellow and hence named my new layer "Flowers". Notice I have the "Skirt", "Ribbons" and "Face & Hand" layers below. It's not a must to create separate layers for each part but this makes it easier to edit or fine tune a particular section / colour afterwards. Before you apply the colour, change the Blend Mode (top left corner of the Layers palette) from Normal to Multiply. Then choose a Brush, select your desired colour for the brush, set the opacity and size of the brush and you're ready to paint over whichever sections as you like. The black parts of the image will not be affected. Repeat the same steps for the different sections until you complete the whole photo and there, you have your own pop art portrait. Very easy right?

I have only done up to this point for the above photo as it's solely meant for illustration purposes. I don't have too much time to perfect this pop art or complete it so will leave it at that.


Dante said...


Thanks for the effort! Muack!

monkeycrab said...

u give it a try la... let me know if you have any problems... should be easy since you already know how to use Photoshop