Here’s a fun effect to play with. If you’re old enough to know who Andy Warhol is, this image should strike a chord. We’re going to use a few simple tools in Photoshop Elements to transform an ordinary digital photo of a banana into something with a little more panache. Let’s get started!
We’ll start by opening up the image of our choice in Photoshop elements. To do this, go to file, and then open.
You can use any image you want, but I’ve found that it’s best to go with pictures that feature isolated subjects. Andy Warhol himself picked still life subjects like cans of soup, so we’re going to use an image of a banana.
Start by removing the background from your image
I got sort of lucky here. I picked an image that already doesn’t really have a background. But if your image does have background, you’ll need to separate it from your subject before continuing on. The best tool for doing is, in my opinion, is the magnetic lasso tool. It latches onto the edge of things and makes it easier to select your subject.
In photoshop elements, it looks like this:
Once I’ve selected my entire subject, I go up to select –> invert to reverse the selection and give me the background. I then hit the delete key to remove the background. Simple as that.
Make your image black and white
We’re basically going remove all of the color information from the image and then put it back in later with any color of our choice. To make your photo black and white, go to adjust color –> adjust hue and saturation.
Another dialog box will show up, giving you a bunch of different options. For now, just select the saturation slider and take it all the way to the left. This removes all color in the image.
Click okay to make your image black and white.
Add the Andy-Warhol inspired cutout filter
The cutout filter creates that distinct Andy Warhol look, and it’s what we’ll be using on our now black-and-white banana. To apply this effect, go to filters –> artistic, and then select cutout.
The next box that pops up will allow you to control the way the cutout effect is applied. Here’s the basic idea. The greater the number of levels you have, the more detail you will have in your image. It’s entirely up to you how much you want. I picked seven for this image because anything else just makes it fade into the background. For the perfect Warhol image, choose a number around 4.
Here’s what the banana looks like after the effect. Now we’re starting to get close!
It’s time to add some color back into the image. We’re going to do this by using layers and then changing the opacity until we get something we like.
Go to the layers panel in the bottom right corner of Photoshop Elements, and click on the half white / half black circle. A menu will pop up. Select “Solid Color.”
Here’s what this does. It creates a new layer on top of your picture, and it fills that layer will a solid color. Once you click on this, you’ll be asked to pick a color. For this first one, we’ll pick red.
Okay, don’t freak out! Your picture will appear as one solid red blob for the moment. That’s totally okay. It’ means you’re doing everything correctly.
To get the Andy Warhol effect, we need to make the top layer a little more transparent. When you can see the image underneath coming through, it creates the desired look.
You can change the transparency of the image by clicking on the button the right of “opacity” on layers, and then adjusting the slider. You can also enter a custom percentage value.
After playing around with the slider, and seeing the result, I settled on an opacity of 55%. It might be a bit different for you. It depends on the image and how much contrast it already has. It always takes a little experimentation to get everything just right.
And there you have it, the finished result. You can try different colors as well as different levels of transparency or contrast, but that is the basic idea. We’re going to push a little further and try adding some different colors into the banana. A classic Andy Warhol image, after all, uses more than one color.
Step 1. Select a block of color
What’s nice about the cutout filter we applied earlier is that it has made it very easy to select entire color blocks of our image. We will do that as a first step using the “magic wand” selection tool.
To get the image below, I selected some of the darker patches of color in the banana and then replaced them with a similar dark color. Do note that lightness/darkness of the replacement color is very important. You’ll know if a replacement color does or does not work because if it doesn’t, it will appear rather out of place. In this case, I took the safe route and chose two darker version of orange and yellow both colors that are close to red in warmth.
The result still appears to be using colors in the same range as the original photo. Warhol-style photos uses completely different colors, but I like colors in the same range. Of course, experiment as much as you want. You are the ultimate judge.
Tiling the images
Now we’re going to tile them. For that effect, create three new Andy Warhol style images using the exact same steps I just outlined. Pick vibrant and distinctive colors for each one. I decided to go with blue, green, and yellow. It’s pretty standard, but it does the job.
Before you copy and paste the actual images, you will need to flatten them first. Otherwise you’ll just end up copying a big blog of color or the unmodified banana, neither of which you want to straight copy. To merge the images, go to the layer menu and then pick flatten.
While I was tiling my images, I would flatten them, copy the image over to the bigger file, and then hit undo a few times to get back to the unflattened image. That then allowed me to change the solid color on the upper layer. Trust me. It’s easier than recreating the whole image all over again from scratch.
To tile them, we’ll need to create a new image file that’s twice the size of the first image. To find out the size of the first image, go to the image menu, then resize, and click on the “image size” option. A dialog box will open up, showing you the pixel-by-pixel dimensions of your image. It’s toward the middle.
So, the image we’ll need to create needs to be 1088 by 1284 pixels. That’s roughly the size of most computer monitors.
From there, create a new file at those dimensions, and then copy and paste the four images into it. You might have to zoom in a little to get the edges to line up perfectly, but that’s the basic idea.
Here’s the finished product:
Classy. Imagine if Andy Warhol had access to the same tools you and I can purchase for as little as $79. The world would definitely be a different place.