Make your own pop art poster

Most pop art pictures in the public’s imagination contain a photograph that has been reduced to only two tones, black and white, and then colored in, for example Andy Warhol’s Marilyn pictured below.

marilyn munroe andy warhol

The best way to do this is to go Image > Adjustments > Threshold in Photoshop. Move the slider until you get the best result. See below the picture of Rihanna here:

Rihanna pop art poster

Flat colours should then be added on layers above your black and white background. Set these layers to Multiply so that the black shows through. Pick no more than about four or five quite vibrant colours. It was quite good to get the background cyan in the above picture of Rihanna. More pop art images here.

However, other effects can be achieved by reducing a greyscale picture to four or five tones instead of just two. Go Filter > Artistic > Cutout and choose the number of tones you want. Then they can be coloured up by going Image > Adjustments > Hue/Satuation, checking the Colorize box, putting the Saturation back up to the middle point and playing around with the Hue. See George W Bush below.

George W Bush pop art poster

I also added those little dots favoured by another famous pop artist – Roy Lichtenstein who’s famous “Whamm!” image you can see below:

To achieve this I had to add a “clouds layer”. Click the small black and white squares by the foreground and background color on your Tools palette to default the colours (or press D) and go Filter > Render > Clouds on an empty layer. This is a handy way to get something to play around with when you’re setting textures generally.

Then go Filter > Pixelate > Color Halftone. I chose the smallest dot, 4 pixels wide. The layer is set to Multiply at 10% Opacity – just enough to see it.

The image below of Kanye West was created by using the above techniques.

Kanye West pop art poster

Did this help you? If so, please share!

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  1. says

    I tried this a time or two, took a while to understand it, but I finally got it! Very fun to do when bored!

  2. says

    Nice effect and have tried this myself before, but not with this quality of results. Would be great to have a Photoshop plugin for this, but for now I’m going to try it with the explanation you gave. Thanks :-)

  3. says

    That’s a thought! I wonder if there is a plugin for this, there probably is somewhere… If you need any help get back to me. Remember to keep copying your Photoshop layers (Cmd/Ctl-J) – you never know when you’ll need to refer back to them. Thanks for popping by. :)

  4. says

    that’s an interesting tutorial you’ve got there. I’ve always been wondering how to create a pop art. I’ve spent numerous hours trying to achieve that kinda effect. thanks! you’ve made my day!

  5. says

    😀 Hey guys ! how are you?
    Im in a bit of a pickle .. i was wondering,do you know how to do a photo into pop art?
    Im only asking cause it’s a science project, and youre most intelligent!
    Tatty-Bye .
    Yours Truly

    x x x x

  6. says

    :P.. Gosh guys you don’t have to be so unreasonable! . will you please mail me as soon as you can.. im getting worried it won’t be finished! Uh-oh.. what if i get detention:(
    Please Help me out here! ..
    Yours Truly.. YET AGAIN!

  7. amiyah says

    I like the effect of the picture it looks really very good and i like the fact that you can us esome one that every one knows because then you can know what they looked like before and even th eafter efter that we can see no wit is amazing any one who does not like it then they are a bit odd

  8. says

    @amiyah. Thanks, I like the effect too. Thank you for your encouraging comment.
    @nana. Please tell me which bit you don’t understand how to do and then I may be able to help you.

  9. mandy says

    it doesnt work!!!
    i add a new layer and when i get to that cloud bit it just covers my pic with some black and white cloud!!

  10. says

    @mandy, that’s what it’s meant to do! After you’ve done that then go Filter > Pixelate > Color Halftone, choose the smallest dot, 4 pixels wide. The layer is set to Multiply at 10% Opacity – just enough to see it.
    It’s just a method to overlay small dots over a picture.

  11. says

    This website is a really good website for students that have to pop art for art class or if you got a do an pop art for something alse.

  12. emily says

    i would like to learn a bit about pop art because i am doing my gcse and i would like some help thank you can you plz e-mail me at [email address removed] i hope to hear form you can you tell me every thing you know or can think of if you do not mind if you do not worry about it thanks for just reading it if you have thanks again plz contect me if you do not mind it is ok p.s how do you make your own pop art

  13. says

    kathy, melissa, hannah and emily. Thank you for your comments. The article above explains how to make the above examples of pop art. If you don’t understand the article or have Adobe Photoshop then I can’t help you. If there is something specific that you don’t understand then please tell me so I can help you. Good luck!

  14. says

    You’re right Matt, turning the image into a bitmap from a greyscale and then controlling the halftone screen gives you better Lichtenstein dots.
    I’m finding I get a lot of traffic from Google Images for these images! Rob

  15. Des says

    Blimey! Snappy Snaps are charging a fortune for this! I can do it on my laptop! I just need to find someone who screenprints canvas for a reasonable price now!

  16. says

    bomba sprawa takie rysuneczki^^ wczesniej nie mialam pojęcia jak to sie robi, no ale teraz to juz będę miała cały pokój obklejony:)
    Perhaps someone will writeto me something;) it’s my e-mail: [email address removed]

  17. says

    heya loving this, iam doing pop art for art in school at the moment i was wondering how do you do this ? because i wanted to do one of myself on my project of pop art in my art class ? can you direct me to how to do this ? im confused write back please x