Pop Art Inspired by Lichtenstein

By Melissa Evans

Pop Art Inspired by Lichtenstein Photoshop Tutorial Banner

Pop Art Recommended for Beginner to Intermediate Level Photoshop Users

Drowning Girl by Lichtenstein

If you are a fan of pop art then you’re probably already well acquainted with the work Roy Lichtenstein. Roy Lichtenstein became one of the leading pop artists of the sixties with his comic-strip paintings. Drowning Girl 1963, shown left, is one of his better known works and is a good example of the design features in his most famous pieces. Notice the thick lines, bold colors, and thought bubble. His work also often included boxed captions and words such as “WHAAM!”, commonly found in comic books.

Benday dots were Lichtenstein’s trademark. Benday dots are a printing process which combines two (or more) different small, coloured dots to create a third colour. Back in the day, pulp comic books used benday dots in primary colours to inexpensively create the secondary colours such as flesh tone.

You can create the benday dot effect by using the Colour Halftone filter found in Adobe Photoshop, however in this tutorial I’m going to show you a way to create a fantastic looking black and white Halftone Pattern. “Why?”, because I like the look of it better.

Due to the vivid colors, the pop art that you will create using this tutorial will look fantastic if you get it printed at your local print shop. If you are going to get it printed, in the beginning change the resolution to 300dpi (Image >> Image Size) and at the end of the tutorial change the mode to CMYK (adjust colours if necessary).

There are 2 parts to this tutorial…

PART 1. Creating the Half Tone Shading
PART 2. Adding Color

I suggest that you read through this tutorial first before beginning…


PART 1. Creating the Half Tone Shading

a) Preparing the Canvas

Open your picture in photoshop that is going to become pop art and duplicate the layer called “Background”. (Just click the layer called “Background” and drag it to this icon Photoshop Create New Layerat the bottom of the layer palette to duplicate the layer.)

Rename this new layer “dots”. (To rename a layer right-click on the name in the Layer Palette and select Layer Properties).

Create another new layer and fill it bright blue using the Paint Bucket tool Photoshop Bucket Tool.

Fill Layer in Photoshop

Drag this layer between the two existing layers and rename it something meaningful i.e “blue”. The image below shows what your Layer Palette should look like. This is the basic set up to begin.

Pop Art Inspired by Lichtenstein 01

Now working on the “dots” layer we need to clear out all the unwanted parts of the photograph. In this case I want to isolate Scarlett and delete the rest i.e lilac background and bit of text.

To cut out Scarlett I use the Pen Tool. Now to sum up how to use Photoshop’s pen tool in a few sentences isn’t easy…if you have never used the pen tool before, do the PEN TOOL TUTORIAL first.

Remember to make sure the pen tool is set to create a Work Path. See below.

Create a Path in Photoshop

*NOTE: You could use the eraser tool but the results won’t be as professional.

Take the pen tool create a path around the person (or thing) and then make it into selection.
Invert the selection (CTRL + Shft + i) and hit delete.
Deselect (Ctrl + D)

Pop Art Inspired by Lichtenstein 04

b) Making the Dots

Desaturate the “dots” layer (Ctrl + Shft + U).

Pop Art Inspired by Lichtenstein 05

Next adjust Threshold to something dramatic (still working on the “dots” layer).

Image >> Adjustments >> Threshold…

The settings I used are shown in the image below, but you will need to experiment to see what threshold settings works for YOUR image.

Adjust Threshold

Using Threshold will leave the image looking very pixelated (jagged). So apply Gaussian Blur (approximately a 2-3 pixels should do it).
Filter >> Blur >> Gaussian Blur…

Pop Art Inspired by Lichtenstein 06

In your Layers Palette right-click on the “dots” layer and select Duplicate Layer…. See image below.

Duplicate a Layer in Photoshop

Select New for the Destination Document. Now you will have 2 documents open in photoshop.

Pop Art Inspired by Lichtenstein 07

Working on your new document change the Mode to Greyscale.

Image >> Mode >> Greyscale

A dialogue box appears…”Discard color information?”…Click OK.

Now change the Mode to Bitmap.

Image >> Mode >> Bitmap

A dialogue box appears…”Flatten layers?”…Click OK.

Choose Halftone Screen on the Bitmap options window. Click OK. See image below.

It pretty obvious but make sure your output resolution is the same as the input. If yours design is going to be printed then the input should be 300 pixels/inch and your output will be 300. If you’re input doesn’t equal your output the you’ll end up with a change in size!

Halftone Screen Photoshop Tutorial

Next appears the Halftone Screen box. Apply the settings shown below. Note you may want to experiment with the Frequency as this decides the size of the dots. Click OK.

Creating Halftone Gradient with Photoshop

Almost there with the dots. All that’s left is to transfer the dots back to the first document. (See part C).

Pop Art inspired by Lichtenstein

Note if your dots aren’t looking very good you may have forgotten to apply blur or need to apply more blur. The smoother gradient is, the better halftone pattern.

c) Organising

Change the Mode back to Greyscale
A dialogue box will appear…Make sure the size ratio is 1 and click OK.
Now change the Mode back to RGB.

In your Layers Palette right-click on the layer and select Duplicate Layer.

There should be 3 three options as the Destination Document. Choose your original psd (which should be the top one). See image below.

Copying Layer in Photoshop

Your Layers Palette should look like the one shown below. You can close the second psd that you created..there’s no need for it now.

Pop Art Inspired by Lichtenstein 11

The final step for creating the dots is to create a Clipping Path between the new layer and the “dots” layer.

To create a Clipping Path…hold down the ALT key and move your cursor between the 2 layers in your Layers Palette. When the cursor turns into a “double bubble” (see image below) click to create the clipping path.

Photoshop Clipping Path

Now link the “dots” and “Background copy” layer. (To link layers simply click one layer then hold down shift and click on the other layer. A little chain icon is shown on the bottom of the layer palette, click it).

Merge Linked layers (Ctrl + E)

If you are using Photoshop CS or later versions instead of linking and then merging the linked layers, after creating the clipping path simply click on the “background copy” layer in your layer palette and then Merge Down.

Your picture should now look like the one shown below..only better because it’s not so small and compressed!

Halftone Pattern created with Photoshop

Now is a good time to Save (Ctrl + S) your work.

On the next page it’s time to add color in PART 2 >>