182. Make a Photograph Look Like Andy Warhol Painted It
Before You Begin
91 About Layers and the Layers Palette
107 Crop a Portion of an Image
146 Adjust Hue, Saturation, and Lightness Manually
164 Replace a Background with Something Else
When most people think of modern, pop art, they think of Andy Warhol. One of his most famous paintings is of a tomato soup can, elevated to the level of art. Another famous painting is of Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn's face is reduced to simple lines, making her look almost like a statue rather than a warm-blooded human being. The canvas of this painting was divided into nine equal parts, with the same copy of Marilyn's face occupying each square. The painting became a study of light and color, as each of the nine Marilyns was rendered in a limited complementary color scheme.
When Andy Warhol painted people, he didn't want them to necessarily look like people, so he always placed them on plain backgrounds. Removing the background from your image will remove its context, giving your subject a kind of statuesque or robotic look. So, as you look for a suitable portrait to render in the Warhol technique discussed in this task, keep in mind that it's the person you'll be emphasizing and not the background.
As you crop, keep in mind that you'll be removing the background, so try to fill the cropping border with your subject. You might want to crop to only the face, or to the face and part of the upper body instead of the whole person because focusing in that tightly will help your image look more like art and less like a colored photograph.
Open an image in the Editor in Standard Edit mode and save it in Photoshop (*.psd) format. Click the Crop tool on the Toolbox and crop the image in a square. I selected the 5" x 5" Preset from the Options bar and cropped my image using that size. You'll end up with a square anyway, even if it doesn't measure exactly 5" x 5".
Remove the Background
To remove the background from your image, click the Background Eraser tool on the Toolbox. On the Options bar, adjust the Diameter, Limits, Tolerance, and other options as desired. Drag the brush along the edge of your subject, removing elements behind your subject from the background. Clean up areas not removed by using either the Magic Eraser or the Eraser. See 97 Erase Part of a Layer for details on using these tools.
If you don't like the effect of the Cutout filter on your image, try the Posterize filter instead (Filter, Adjustments, Posterize). The Posterize filter also reduces the number of tonal levels in an image.
Blur the image to remove unnecessary detail: choose Filter, Blur, Smart Blur. The Smart Blur dialog box appears. Set Radius to the medium value of 50. Set the Threshold value to 10 (higher for images whose resolution is above 150 PPI). Then gradually reduce the Radius, keeping it above 1, until you've eliminated or reduced the texture of skin and clothing, without losing too much detail. (Watch the preview window to see the results of your manipulations.) Click OK to accept your changes.
Sampling for the Color Replacement tool takes place at the crosshairs in the tool's center. You use this tool very similarly to the Background Eraser tool. It replaces all color within the area of the brush tip that either matches the sample color or, alternatively, matches the background color. Set Sampling to Continuous to have the tool absorb a new color to replace at the crosshairs point each time you begin a new brushstroke. Set Sampling to Once to have the tool sample only the first brushstroke and continue to replace the sampled color with each successive stroke. To go a different route altogether, set Sampling to Background Swatch. Set the background color to the color you want to replace (you can use the Eyedropper tool for this purpose). Then you don't have to worry about sampling at all; your tool will simply replace the background color whenever and wherever it finds that color.
The next task is to simplify the image by reducing the number of colors. Choose Filter, Artistic, Cutout from the menu bar. The Cutout dialog box appears. Set Edge Simplicity to 0. Set the Number of Levels to between 4 and 6 because Andy generally used no more than six solid colors in a portrait. Slowly increase the Edge Simplicity slider until you have removed most of the detail, but have retained color variation so that your subject can still be identified. Try not to lose the darks of your subject's eyes. The effect you're going for approximates the use of cutout construction paper, glued together to make a recognizable, if slightly crude, face. Click OK to accept your changes.
Replace Colors Set the foreground color to the color you want to paint with. To mimic the Warhol palette, you'll want to choose any hueliterally any huewith saturation of 66% or above and a brightness of 75% or above. You don't have to have a lifelike palettecyan skin is perfectly acceptable. When you've chosen a foreground color, click the color in the image you want to replace. Drag with the brush over the area that contains that color to replace it with the selected foreground color. Depending on the Tolerance value you've set, you can replace variations close to the color you clicked with similar variations of the foreground color. Generally, you'll have best results with a low Tolerance setting, such as 5. Repeat the color replacement process until you've reduced the image to four or five basic colors in various shades.
The image is probably looking fairly artsy by now, but it might lack the vibrant colors it needs to achieve that Warhol look. Click the Color Replacement tool on the Toolbox. In the Options bar, select Color from the Mode drop-down list and Continuous from the Sampling drop-down list. These settings instruct the tool to replace both hue and saturation values ("color") for the shade directly beneath it, and to keep doing that wherever it finds that color. Adjust the Diameter, Tolerance, and Limits values as needed.
You can also replace color using the Replace Color dialog box (Enhance, Adjust Color, Replace Color). Click on the image to select the color you want to replace, and pixels with that color show up in the preview. Select a color to replace those pixels with, and click OK.
Where needed, smooth any jagged edges and reduce the number of colors in an area by painting with the Paint Brush tool instead.
Sometimes, the Background Eraser tool can leave semi-opaque pixels along the outside edge of what you thought was a perfectly cut-out selection. As a result, filling in the background with the Paint Bucket tool might leave a transparent halo around your subject. If this happens, use the Magnetic Lasso tool to select all the image that is supposed to be completely transparent. Then press Delete to remove its contents. See more about the Magnetic Lasso tool in 75 Select an Object By Tracing Its Edge.
Now that you've painted the image with the colors you want to use, you're ready to fill in the background. Press Ctrl and click the thumbnail for the image's only layer on the Layers palette. This action selects your subject. To select the transparent background so that you can fill it with color, choose Select, Inverse.
Click the Paint Bucket tool on the Toolbox. Fill the selected background with an adequately contrasting, highly saturated color. It should probably not be a middle tone; the color you use should be relatively light or relatively dark.
Increase Canvas Size
Andy copied Marilyn's face a total of nine times in his famous painting, but we'll do a smaller version that uses only four copies. To accommodate a two-across-by-two-down layout, double the size of the canvas (increase the canvas size of the image by another 100%). Choose Image, Resize, Canvas Size. The Canvas Size dialog box appears. Enable the Relative option. Type 100% for both the Width and Height values. In the Anchor pane, click the arrow in the upper-left corner. Click OK. The canvas size is doubled, and your current image appears in the upper-left corner of the canvas.
Rename the current layer Upper Left and then choose Layer, Duplicate Layer to copy the layer. Name the new layer Upper Right. Repeat this process to create two more layers: Lower Left and Lower Right.
Move Layers into Position
On the Layers palette, select the Lower Right layer. To help you position these layers properly, select View, Snap to Grid from the menu bar. Click the Move tool on the Toolbox. Drag the image downwards and to the right, into the lower-right corner of the canvas. Repeat this process to move the image on the Lower Left and Upper Right layers into position.
Recolor Each Layer
On the Layers palette, click the Lower Right layer. Recolor the image on this layer by choosing Enhance, Adjust Color, Adjust Hue/Saturation. The Hue/Saturation dialog box appears. Enable the Preview check box. Select Master from the Edit list. Drag the Hue slider until you find a different color combination you like. Adjust the Saturation and Lightness as well, if it helps to balance the overall distribution of color and light for this layer. Click OK.
Repeat this step to recolor the images on the Lower Left and Upper Right layers.
You don't have to stop at simply recoloring each layer: You can hand-paint an element into one layer; you can adjust the brightness or saturation of one element rather than the entire layer; or you can vary the backgrounds for each layer.
View the Result
After you're satisfied with the result, make any other changes you want and save the PSD file. Resave the result in JPEG or TIFF format, leaving your PSD image with its layers intact so that you can return at a later time and make different adjustments if you want.
Jennifer says: This photograph of my mother-in-law, Maria, was one of her favorites. She was an artist, and I'm sure she would have appreciated this rendition of her portrait. Look for it in the Color Gallery.
Scott says: Mom never particularly understood the appeal of pop artists. During her 47-year teaching career, Mom had some students who insisted she help them create versions of the Campbell's Soup can or the Marilyn portrait. In helping them out, she would convey every indication of a lady stepping out of her element, like a cellist in a rock band. What she wouldn't admit out loud was that she was enjoying herself. She'd always find some way to find herself in her work, whether she was working in her own method or in the method of any master of any genre. Jennifer produced this Warhol-inspired portrait in honor of an artist who found herself in everything she made, and in the making, improved it. I hope you take the time to find a piece of yourself in your work with Photoshop Elements, whether or not a computer is necessarily "your element."