Photoshop Tutorial: Photo Silk Screen Effect

Many of you are too old to remember the Che Guevarra and “raised fist” anti-war or revolutionary posters. There were lots more of that, all using the silk screen look popular at the time.

In this tutorial, I will demonstrate how to create a silk screen type image out of your photograph, similar to kind of pop art Andy Warhol popularized in the 1960s. Warhol, the Pope of Pop Culture produced silk screen paintings of subjects ranging from Cambell soup can to Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe.

Step 1

Open an appropriate file. Choose an image that is contrasty, to begin with.

Step 2

Knock out the background.

You can use any technique that you know to extract the image from the background. In this example, I chose the filter “Extract.”

Step 3

Posterize the image.

If the image is contrasty to begin with, you can use “Threshold” instead. In this example, I found it necessary to first posterize the image. Choose ‘Image > Adjustments > Posterize.’

Step 4

Desaturate the image.

The next step is to convert the image into black and white without turning the image to Grayscale. To accomplish this, I used the ‘Desaturate’ command. Choose ‘Image > Adjustments > Desaturate’.

Step 5

Increase the Contrast.

The desaturated image is not contrasty enough so I applied the ‘Levels’ command.

Choose ‘Image > Adjustments > Levels.’ Move the ‘White’ slider to remove the other details, leaving only enough to show the essential art of the face.

Step 6

Create the Canvas.

Next, create a new document that will become the canvas for the artwork. Go to ‘File > New..’ on the ‘Preset’ drop down the list of the ‘New Document’ dialog box, choose the open document. This way, the canvas will be proportionate to the image.

Step 7

Expand the Canvas.

Expand the canvas so it can accommodate four copies of the image side by side. Go to ‘Image > Canvas Size.’ In the Canvas Size dialog box, choose 100% for both Width and Height. Make sure that the Anchor is in the middle and the Background color for the Canvas extension is white.

Step 8

Divide the canvas into four equal parts.

Make sure that the rulers are visible. If not, press Command-R (Mac) or Control-R (Windows). Set the unit of measurement of the rulers to Percent. To do this, choose ‘Photoshop > Preferences’ (Mac) or ‘Edit > Preferences’ (Windows). In the Preferences dialog box, choose Units and Rulers and for Rulers under Units choose Percent. If you keep changing the unit of measurement a lot, you can just Control-click (Mac) or right-click (Windows) on the ruler to bring out the options.

Once the rulers are set, drag out vertical and horizontal guides to the middle of the canvas, dividing it into four equal parts.

Step 9

Draw a marquee in the first quadrant. Make sure that ‘Snap to Guides’ is turned on to make an accurate rectangular selection. Choose ‘View > Snap To >Guides.’ Using the Rectangular marquee tool, draw a marquee in the first quadrant.

Step 10

Copy and paste the image into the new canvas.

Go back to the document containing the image. Choose ‘Select > All.’ Then choose ‘Edit > Copy.’ Back in the document containing the new canvas choose ‘Edit > Paste into.’ The image of the will automatically be pasted into the first quadrant.

Step 11

Duplicate the layer three times.

Since you are going to create four version of the image, duplicate the layer three times. Use the guide as you drag the duplicates into position.

Step 12

Colorize the Background.

Next, you will colorize the background.

  1. Hide the four top layers and activate the Background.
  2. Select the first quadrant.
  3. Fill it with a solid color.
  4. Repeat the process, until the Background contains four different colors.

Step 13

Show the top layers.

Go to the Layers palette and click on the eye icon next to the top four layers to show (unhide) them again.

Step 14

Load the selection.

Go to the Select menu and choose Load Selection. In the Load Selection dialog box, choose Layer 1 Transparency as the Channel. This will automatically create a marquee around the image of in the first layer.

Step 15

Create a fill layer.

While the first layer is selected, click on the Create new fill or adjustment layer button at the bottom of the Layers palette. Choose Solid Color. Choose a color from the Pick a solid color box. Because the image was selected, the Solid Color fill layer automatically created a mask. So the only content of the first layer was colorized.

Step 16

Change the blending Mode.

To complete the colorization of the image, change the blending mode of the Solid Color fill layer to Multiply. The color will blend with the underlying layer. The next step is to erase the color on the face and leaving only the shirt with colors.

Step 17

Repeat the process. To complete the artwork, repeat Steps 14 to 16 on the remaining layers and you’re done!