Artists have used a wide range of effects over the years, and one of the most iconic examples is the pop art movement of the 1950s and 1960s. During this time period, painters took elements of popular culture such as advertisements or comic books, and used them as an influence to produce original images. While you might not be a professional painter, you can still participate in this movement today by augmenting your photographs with software. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use the pop art effect in Photoshop.
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Isolate Your Subject
To get started, find the perfect image to transform into a piece of pop art, which will usually be a portrait. Once you’ve opened your picture, your first task is to isolate your subject by drawing a selection around the model. You don’t need to be very precise with borders, since you’re going for a paper cutout appearance. You can then cut and paste your selection onto a new layer and use the paint bucket tool to transform the background into a solid color.
Augment the Subject
With the background layer finished, you should now begin transforming your subject by removing details and changing it to black and white. Go to the image section of the top menu bar, select adjustments and click on threshold. Drag the slider to remove detail until you’re left with the basic outlines of features such as the eyes, nose and mouth.
You can stop here for a basic pop art image, or you can make selections of individual sections to selectively color in hair, clothing, skin and other elements. Whenever you make a selection, copy it and paste it into its own layer so you can go back and augment colors later if you don’t like a combination. Each of the model’s features should be a blend of two different layers, as you want the black and white one for detail and a semitransparent layer to add color. Once you’ve done this with everything, you can save it as a PSD before flattening the image and creating a JPEG for printing or online display.
Be a Digital Artist
With the knowledge of how to use the pop art effect in Photoshop, you can turn simple photographs into pieces of graphic art right on your computer. If you’d like some more interesting subjects to transform with this process, Shutterstock has a searchable library of royalty-free images for a wide array of users ranging from personal to small business.