Deke’s Techniques: Creating a series of Warhol-style variations

Published by | Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Valentine’s Day is approaching, and in this week’s installment of Deke’s Techniques, Deke shows you how to build a Warhol-style serigraph portrait of your valentine, whether it’s your main squeeze, your best bud, or your favorite furry friend. This technique combines last week’s effect with a new high-contrast color palette and luminescent highlights in Adobe Photoshop. Follow along with Deke in this week’s free video and use the companion text below to help with each step.

1. Use the image variation from last week’s technique or start fresh with Deke’s exercise file, which includes a set of preselected color swatches. And here’s a tip if you’re starting from scratch: keep your palette garish, high contrast, and concise (around five swatches in total) for maximum impact.

2. Isolate and select the eyelids of your subject and fill them with white, the default background color in Photoshop.

3. Use the Eyedropper tool to sample your first color swatch, click on the eyelids again, and press Shift+Alt+Backspace or Shift+Option+Delete to fill them with the selected color.

Begin by using the Eyedropper tool to sample your first color swatch

4. Repeat step 3 to fill the lips, hair, and background of your image with the colors of your choice.

5. To offset the fill layers so that they appear out of “registration,” as they would in a real screen print, select the layers, press and hold the Ctrl (Windows) or Command (Mac) key, and press the right and up arrow keys a few times.

6. Save a copy of your new variation by choosing File > Save As.

7. To add more dimension to the image, create a rough mask of your subject (free of most of the background) and add a Color Overlay effect. Change the effect’s blend mode to Screen to brighten all of the clipped layers in the image. Experiment by adjusting the Brightness and Saturation values.

Add more dimension to your image by adding a Color Overlay effect

8. To create the luminescent highlights, Shift-click the base black and white image and then choose Image > Calculations. Set both Layer options to Merged and select the Red channel for Source 1 and Blue for Source 2. Change the Blending setting to Difference and check Invert.

Convert to black and white and then use Image Calculations to create the highlights

9. Back in the main image, press Ctrl+I (Windows) or Command+I (Mac) to invert the highlights effect.

10. Apply a Levels adjustment and increase the black point value to 100.

Apply a Levels adjustment and increase the black point value

11. Turn the visibility of your other layers back on.

12. Finally, fill your highlights layer with the final swatch color and move it to the top of the layer stack.

Fill your highlights layer with the final swatch color

Now you have a true Warhol-style portrait. However, Warhol would have never stopped at two variations. Tune in next week to watch Deke combine six variations in a precisely aligned hexaptych, or six-panel artwork. In the meantime, members of can view the entire Deke’s Techniques collection in our library.

Sneak peek at next week's Deke's Techniques

Suggested courses to watch next:

• The entire Deke’s Techniques collection
• Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Intermediate
• Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Intermediate

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