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Power up the pop to create eye-catching art

Added on Sunday 23rd of January 2005 12:01 am EST
Adobe Photoshop CS/CS2/CS3
Operating Systems:
Microsoft Windows, Macintosh

Even though pop-art graphics are typically clean, using too many colors and patterns together can result in a design disaster. However, by simplifying your design and adding just the right amount of punch, you can get the unique look you need for your next project.

To produce compelling pop art in Photoshop, we’ll:
  • Show you how to select line art that lends itself to easy pop art transformation.
  • Add vibrant colors to produce visual “pop” without overwhelming your design.
  • Create the right-sized dots to add texture and contrast to the art piece.


When you think of pop art, what comes to mind? Most likely it’s Andy Warhol’s artwork or maybe the bold comic-like paintings created by Roy Lichtenstein. Regardless of what comes to mind, pop art has intense visual impact due to vibrant colors and simplified objects. Using line art for inspiration, we’ll show you how to create images reminiscent of Roy Lichtenstein’s work easily.

Choose your image carefully
In order to create your own pop art in Photoshop, you first have to find or create a black-and-white line art image to work with. Old out-of-date clip art works great for this technique because they have clean lines you can easily fill in with color. If you don’t have black-and-white line art handy, follow along with our sample file. Simply download the file from the URL given at the beginning of this article, extract the file pop.psd, launch Photoshop and open the file shown in Figure A.
                    When choosing an image, make sure that the white areas are large enough to fill, that your lines are clean, and that the white areas are enclosed. Once you have your image, you’re ready to transform it into pop art.

Tip: If you’re unsure of how to create line art from your photos, check out the companion article “Turn to Illustrator to assist your line art needs” in this issue of Inside Photoshop.


Flood your image with color
Before you start filling your image with color, you’ll need to choose colors. The Photoshop default Swatches palette, as shown in Figure B, offers a host of vibrant colors to choose from, or you can create your own colors on the fly. For this example, we’ll give you RGB values of the colors we used so you can follow along easily.


To fill in your image with color:
  1. Select the Paint Bucket tool from the Tools palette.
  2. Set the foreground color to a bright blue with RGB values R:42, G:92, B:165.
  3. Click in the large outside white area to fill it with blue, as shown in Figure C.
  4. ...