Stripping away detail from images so that you’re left with pure black and white is a great way to add a pop art feel to your shots and will quickly become one of your favourite Photoshop effects to use. If you then duplicate the image for repetitive effect and introduce blocks of bright colour, you’ll create dazzling images that’ll look great on any wall or even a T-shirt.
To get our desired Photoshop effects, we’re going to show you how to strip away all the midtones using the Photoshop Stamp filter, so you’re left with just a black and white shape. After cleaning up distracting blobs from the tarmac background, we’ll duplicate the shot four times and render each version in a different colour for a cool graphic art look.
You’ll also learn how to use Clipping Masks and Fill Layers to add to your creative armoury, so your image is totally re-editable, should you change your mind in the future. So let’s get started and see how it’s done…
Photoshop effects: how to turn your photos into graphic art
Step 1: Clone out distractions
To begin this Photoshop tutorial, first open your start image. Here we’ve used a photo of a bike. Next, we’ve select the Clone Stamp from the Tools palette to remove the hand. Don’t worry about doing a perfect job, as it won’t show up later if the Photoshop effect’s been done properly. Crop the image to 4×6 inches at 300 pixels/inch. We’ve done this to change the proportions so the wheels look round: go to Image>Transform>Distort and grab the corner bounding boxes to reshape.
Step 2: Use the Stamp filter
Set the foreground to black and background to white, then go to Filter>Sketch>Stamp and enter a Light/Dark Balance value of 25 and a Smoothness of 5. This’ll strip away all the midtones, leaving just black and white. For your own images, different filters, such as Threshold, might work better. Next, we’ll deal with the pixelated tarmac at the bottom of the image…
Step 3: Refine the details
Change the foreground colour to white and select a hard round brush. Zoom in and paint away the pixels. Press Ctrl+A then Ctrl+C to copy the image. Create a new document, sized 12×8 inches at 300 pixels per inch, then paste the bike shot with Ctrl+V. Duplicate the layer three times (Ctrl+J) and use the Move tool (V) to position each in a separate corner.
Step 4: Add some colour
For a black background, highlight each layer in turn and press Ctrl+I to invert the layer. Select the top layer and create a new Fill Layer using a deep red colour. Set the Blending Mode to Multiply and go to Layer>CreateClippingMask, so the Fill Layer doesn’t affect other layers. Repeat this process for the other layers, choosing a different colour each time.
If you know you’re going to use this technique before you start shooting, you can make life a little easier for yourself by using a neutral background. The tarmac between the bike spokes was tricky and time consuming to remove, so always try and pre-visualise your end result.