As an artist, I love anything and everything with color. And, that includes many of the prints made by Andy Warhol. Well, even if your home is decorated in shabby chic florals or American country checks, you might have a different color scheme in your child’s room. If so, I think it would be fun to put together a quick, Warholized photo collage of your child to hang on his or her wall. However, if you don’t like wild (Fauve) colors, you can always use pastels.
I’ve made Warholized photos into birthday cards, and there are endless possibilities for making these brightly-colored pictures into wrapping paper and other goodies if you use your imagination.
Choose a Photo Your Child Likes
In general, I think a photo collage would be best for younger boys or for girls of any age. Let your child help choose his or her favorite colors. Or, check online to see what Andy would have used.
You can Warholize one photo and hang it by itself, or you can group any number of photos together for a magnificent focal piece. For this example, I will make four prints of a photo I found on Creative Commons.
Download the Trial Version of Photoshop
If you don’t have Photoshop or Photoshop Elements (the cheaper version, which is what I use) you can download a free trial of Photoshop for 30 days. As far as I know, this is still in effect, so I will use Photoshop for this tutorial. This whole thing is really simple with Photoshop.
Simplify Your Photo in Shades of Gray
Make a copy of your photo in case you mess up. Open the copy of your photo in Photoshop. There is more than one method for Warholizing a picture, so play around with this fun, photo-enhancing toy.
- In Photoshop, go to the top taskbar: Enhance > Adjust Color > Remove Color. (Your photo is now black and white.)
- If you have started with a black and white photo or you’re not sure what mode you’re in, go to the top taskbar to make sure you’re in the right mode: Image > Mode > RGB Color.
- You might want to make your photo higher contrast, but that depends on your original picture. I’m going to make this girl’s photo higher contrast. Enhance > Adjust Lighting > Brightness/Contrast. Just play with the sliders until your kid looks more like modern art. I’ve made my photo +50 for Brightness and +45 for contrast, but every picture will be different.
- Now, to really get that modern, artsy look, go to the top taskbar: Filter > Artistic > Cutout. And, scroll the number of levels (on the upper right) until you find something you like. For this photo, I’ve gone with 4 levels, but I have used 3 levels up to 7 levels, depending on the picture. You can also change the Edge Simplicity slider and anything else that looks interesting. Click OK. (If you EVER don’t like what you’ve done, hold down Control and Z to undo the change.)
- I’ve saved this “cutout” version of the photo as Cutout Copy (see second photo above). Because I’m going to make four different color versions, I’ve saved Cutout Copy four times and named them Cutout Copy One, Cutout Copy Two, and so on. I like to save to the desktop.
Coloring Your Photo in Photoshop
Now for the fun part, choosing fun, Warhol-like colors in Photoshop.
- Click on the big square on the bottom part of the left task bar. This will bring up a box with every color you could ever want. Chose a fun color by clicking in different places on the color popup square and/or scrolling along the “rainbow” strip of colors. When you have your first color, click OK.
- Look for an icon that looks like Tinkerbell’s magic wand on the left task bar. Click the icon, and click your cursor (wand) onto a gray area where you want your color to go. Everything in the photo that is that shade of gray will now be highlighted.
- Now you have your color and your selected area. Click the paintbrush icon on the left. You can change the size of the paintbrush in the upper left where it says “Size.” Set Opacity to 100% on the upper task bar.
- Now, paint (all or some of) the highlighted areas with your paintbrush. Continue doing this with different highlighted areas and different colors until you like what you see. Save this Warholized photo.
If you want more than one “poster,” follow the same procedure with your other gray-scale photos using similar colors. Be like Andy, and hang one or several photos on the wall…or send your masterpiece to grandma if you hate it. (No, I don’t think Andy sent paintings to grandma.)
Optional: If you want all photos on one collage, open a new blank file (File > New) that is large. You’ll figure out a good size by trial and error. Once you have a blank file, go to the top taskbar and click: View > Grid. Then, click View > Snap To > Grid. Next, click: File > Place (and browse for your Warholized photos). Arrange them on the blank paper.
- If you want more of any color, use the eyedropper icon.
- If you want the magic wand to select more or less of an area, change the “Tolerance” number on upper taskbar.
- If you want to start over, use: Edit > Revert.
- Save often, whenever you find a color combo you like.
Remember that Andy Warhol was very creative. There are no “wrong” colors, but I find it easiest to have one fairly light color (like pale yellow or white) and one dark color (like dark purple, blue, or black), with the rest of the hues falling somewhere in between.