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Create A Vintage Style Pop Art Cartoon In Photoshop

The 1960’s was a very inspirational period in art where many artists created pieces with bright colors, fun textures, and photo effects. In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to create a pop art style cartoon inspired by the great Lichtenstein. Let’s get started!

Software: Adobe Photoshop Difficulty: Intermediate Completion Time: 2.5 hours

Image Used For This Tutorial:

Woman talking on phone at the desk: 18530492 ©stokkete

Creating The Line Art

Step 1 Open your reference in Photoshop. Remember: Lichenstein’s art from the 60’s is the inspiration for today. So with that in mind it’s important to crop the photo to a close-up shot of the face. Use the Marquee Tool (M) to select a box around the woman’s face. Make sure to include her holding the phone so that it helps tell the story in the future.

Step 2 Go to Image > Crop to crop the photo. Then open a New Document, making the size 11 x 9 inches with a resolution of 150 dpi. This file is saved at a higher resolution so that we don’t lose too much crispness in the lines, but feel free to create this art in Illustrator to avoid that problem altogether.

Step 3 Copy and paste the cropped photo and resize it to fit by pressing Control + T while holding the Shift key.

Step 4 On a new layer above the photo, use the Pen Tool (P) to start creating your line art making sure the Paths option is selected. Manually create your line art by tracing around the details of the image.

Step 5 Right-click to Make a Selection, then fill in that selection with black using the Paint Bucket Tool (G).

Step 6 To save time you can fill in multiple paths at once. Continue to create the line art all around the image, varying the line weight for more impact.

Step 7 Continue this until you have all of the line art done. Details for the hair should follow the direction of the hair growth and can include blocks of shapes to emphasize textures or shadows.

Coloring The Line Art

Step 8 Create a New Group under the line art layer. In that group add a New Layer (Control-Shift-N) for the base of the skin colors. Using the Pen Tool (P), trace around the face and hand. Like before, Right-click to make a selection and fill that selection with a nude color (f9b88c).

Step 9 Before continuing we have to make a pattern for the benday dot effect that is popular with this style. Open a New Document and set it to 100×100 pixels. Use the Brush Tool (B) to paint a red dot on the center of the white background. Go to Edit > Define Pattern and enter a name. Now you have a new pattern!

Step 10 Duplicate the base layer for the face. Right-click the duplicated layer and select Blending Options. Check the box next to Pattern Overlay, setting the pattern to the red dot you just created. Bring down the Opacity to 25% and the Scale to 15%. Now your art is really beginning to pop!

Step 11 Above the face layer with the dots, create a New Layer for the rest of the colors. Use the Pen Tool (P) again to select around the details and fill them in with color using the same technique as before. Continue doing this for the hair, lips, eyes, nails, phone, and background, making sure to pick bright colors that reflect the pop art movement.

Step 12 Now we’ll add a slight modern twist to the color scheme! Set a new layer to Overlay above the line art. Use the Gradient Tool (G) with the preset Foreground to Transparent (Opacity 20%) and drag diagonal gradients of black across the bottom and upper right corners of the image. This will saturate the colors a little more. Adjust the Opacity of the layer to 74%.

Step 13 Add another new layer for highlights. Set this one to Hard Mix. Select the Radial Gradient option from your Gradient Tool (G), making sure that you now have the color in the foreground set to white. Create small bursts of white radial gradient around the image, paying attention to interesting areas that might get hit with light.

Step 14 Let’s create the signature speech bubble! Select the Speech Bubble Shape from the Custom Shape Tool (U) panel. Drag to create your bubble then select the Pen Tool (P) to Stroke Path. Make sure that you use a brush with a 100% hardness and 15 pixel diameter to stroke the path. With the Pen Tool (P) still selected Right-Click to Make a Selection and fill in the speech bubble with white.

Step 15 The last step is to add any words of your choice to the speech bubble. You can use whichever font you like best, but in this case it was: Copperglate Gothic Light.

And there you have it! Have fun showing off your new vintage-style pop art!

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