Create Your Own Pop Art Photo: It’s Easy with the ZPS Editor

Celebrate the colorful 1960s with a bold photo transformation. This time around we’ve prepared an article on how to give your photos a little extra pop with a pop-art effect. Just dig around in your archive and find a suitable photo, and in a few minutes you can have your own original graphical retro piece ready for printing. Even if you’re no Andy Warhol. Let’s look at how to do it.

Create Your Own Pop Art Photo - comparison

Pop art is a timeless style that’s still appreciated today. You can run into it in the works of modern artists, and on posters as well. This effect doesn’t work well for every photo, and you have to use it with care, but for certain photos—especially portrait photos—it can really look good. What do you think?

Create Your Own Pop Art Photo - pop-art poster

Your photos’ stories don’t have to end with just saving them to disk or publishing them on social media. Take some inspiration from us!

Follow along with us, and you’ll learn to use these tools: Crop and Rotate (C), Gradient Map, Color Picker, Enhance – Curves (Shift+C), Edit – Paste from File…, Rectangular Selection (M), Selection – Fill with Surroundings (Shift+Del), Layer – Duplicate Layer, Layer – Merge Down, and layers’ blending mode, and layer opacity settings.

We’ll be working in the Editor. We’ve chosen this photo to illustrate how to create a pop-art effect in Zoner Photo Studio:

Create Your Own Pop Art Photo - close-up photo of a woman

Source: Freepik.com, by: freepic.diller.

First Step: Edit the Source Photo

First make your basic edits to the photo, such as adjusting its tonality and colors, etc. Here we’ve cropped the photo to highlight the important parts (the lips and hands) and remove distracting elements (the clothing at the bottom right corner).

Create Your Own Pop Art Photo - cropping photo

Use the Crop and Rotate (C) tool to crop the photo (to adjust its composition).

To add the color toning itself, use the Gradient Map function. It uses the image’s tonality—ignoring shades of color—as a foundation for applying the colors that you’ve set on the color scale to the image. To activate the Gradient Map function, click Adjustments in the Editor’s Side Panel, and then click Gradient Map. 

Then click the color box to the left of the color scale and choose the shade to apply to the darkest parts of the image. Here we’ll be using violet (R = 228,
G = 96, B = 225). Use the same approach to select the color to apply to the brightest parts of the image. Our example uses yellow (R = 255, G = 255, B = 0). Gradient Map makes it easy to get the two-tone effect that’s so fundamental to a pop-art look.

Create Your Own Pop Art Photo - setting up two-tone

An example of a two-tone effect. The shades we’ve chosen give this image a pastel feel.

On its own, this two-tone effect lacks depth, because the original photograph has lost contrast.
To restore the photo’s contrast, start by clicking the Add button in the Gradient Map controls. This adds another shade to the image—in our example, it’s a third shade. Here we’re using dark red (R = 175, G = 47, B = 47).

Create Your Own Pop Art Photo - increasing contrast

Adding a third color halfway through the tone range has retored depth to the photo.

Create Your Own Pop Art Photo - choosing right colours

This window lets you either take a color straight from the sampler or choose a specific color value in the RGB or HSL color space.

The image now has contrast, but it’s also fairly dark. You can brighten it using Enhance – Curves (Shift+C). You can also use a Curves layer like we did.

Create Your Own Pop Art Photo - colour curves

Adjusting the tone curve to brighten a photo.

Adding Halftoning

Halftoning can serve to imitate the typical look of printed photos in newspapers from the middle of last century. It’s easy to produce this effect using halftoning textures. You can download this kind of texture from a photobank; we’ve downloaded ours from FreePik.

Create Your Own Pop Art Photo - halftoning

Source: Freepik.com, by: Harryarts.

To add in a texturing image, use the Edit – Paste from File… command.

Create Your Own Pop Art Photo - adding halftoning to portrait

This specific halftoning texture contains a graphical element that needs to be erased before we can effectively use it. We use Rectangular Selection (M) to select this element

Create Your Own Pop Art Photo - removing unwanted parts

and then use Selection – Fill with Surroundings (Shift+Del) to remove it.

Create Your Own Pop Art Photo - usable texture

Fill with Surroundings has done a perfect job here.

The texture’s pattern isn’t dense enough, and so we’ll duplicate the layer with that texture, by using Layer – Duplicate Layer and rotating it 180 degrees using the Move and Transform (V) tool.

Create Your Own Pop Art Photo - denser texture

We’ll set the blending mode for the rotated texture to Multiply and shift the duplicate texture layer to fill in the gaps in the original one, making the texture denser.

Create Your Own Pop Art Photo - rotated layer

We then merge both texture layers by using the Layer – Merge Down command.

But the texture is still fairly coarse, so we’ll go on to shrink it to roughly a quarter of its original size, copy it, and merge the individual shrunken layers to produce a finer texture.

Create Your Own Pop Art Photo - final texture

A new blank layer was needed underneath the texture layers here, to keep them from melding with the photograph beneath them.

We change the blending mode—the way this layer is blended into everything beneath it—from Normal to Burn and reduce the opacity to 50%.

Create Your Own Pop Art Photo - burn

Adding Some Bokeh to Wrap Things Up

You might want to wrap things up and add some depth to the picture by adding bokeh, as we’ve done here. Our bokeh for the example was once again taken from FreePik.

Create Your Own Pop Art Photo - bokeh

Source: Freepik.com, by: rawpixel.com.

We’ll paste in this photo of blurred lights by once again using Edit – Paste from File…. We’ll then set the size, position, and rotation of the lights using the Move and Transform (V) tool. We’ll set the blending mode to Screen and the opacity to 50%.

Create Your Own Pop Art Photo - adding screen

And this is what our final picture looks like:Create Your Own Pop Art Photo - finished photo

Done!

Try using our steps along with some tweaks to create pop-art pictures of your own. It’s child’s play in Zoner Photo Studio.

Last updated 17. October 2019

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Author: Jan Zeman

I’ve been digitally editing pictures since 1996. I started taking pictures in 2006, and since then I’ve gradually been becoming a full-time photographer. In my work, I focus on portrait, architecture, cityscape, and product/advertising photography.

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