photoshop creative

Create a Lichtenstein-style cartoon with filters

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Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
May 4, 2016

Mimic the pop-art style of Roy Lichtenstein using filters, the Pen tool and bright colours


1. Outline the eye


Start off by grabbing the Pen tool and on a new layer, start to make an outline around one of the eyes, taking the lashes into account. Try to keep the shape natural, and once you’re done, go to the Paths tab, Ctrl/right-click your path and Fill with #000000.

2. Continue with the eyes


Still using the Pen tool, and on a new layer, draw white inside the black space you’ve just made, using #f0e1e3. On another new layer, get a big hard brush and add a blue/green for the iris, then repeat for a pupil and finally an eye glint. Repeat for the other eye.

3. Trace the hair


Add another new layer, and trace the outline of the hair. It doesn’t have to be exactly perfect at the ends, but zoom in and try and follow the contours as best you can, following stray hairs as well as the main hairline.

4. Fill and gradient


Click on the Path tab again. Select the Eyedropper tool, pick a colour from the hair – not too light or too dark – and then Ctrl/right-click your path and fill. Add a black-to-white gradient on a new clipping mask layer and set to Soft Light.

5. Add some highlights



Make your first hair layer invisible and start tracing over the highlights of your subject’s hair on a new layer, with the Pen tool again. Don’t worry about edges, as we’ll clip this mask to the one below; fill in with a lighter shade.

6. Add subtle highlights


Adding a second set of highlights will give more tone, but as well as filling with the Pen tool, stroke to lighten finer strands of hair. Set your brush to hard, and around 25px to stroke perfectly for the weight and size of your brush.

7. Trace lips and teeth


With a hard brush on a new layer beneath the hair, colour with white over your subject’s teeth. On another new layer, set to Color, brush pink over the lips. Duplicate this lips layer and set to Soft Light, Opacity: 50%.

8. Create a halftone pattern


Now click on your Background layer, duplicate it and move it to the top of the stack. Hit Ctrl/Cmd+L and alter the levels to increase the contrast. Then, go to Filter>Pixelate>Color Halftone, set the Radius to 20 and click OK.

9. Desaturate and Multiply


Add a Vibrance adjustment layer of Saturation: -100, and clip it to the halftone layer by Ctrl/right-clicking and selecting Create Clipping Mask. Set your halftone layer to Multiply. This will add the halftone pattern as shading to your cartoon.

10. Colour the shirt


Add a new layer beneath the hair layers, and select a colour for your subject’s shirt – vibrant but dark shades work best. With a hard brush, paint over with the colour you’d like.

11. Add skin and tone


Use the Eyedropper to pick a skin colour and again, on a new layer just above your Background, brush the colour over the subject. Duplicate your Background layer, move to the top, and go to Filter> Pixelate>Color Halftone, set Size to 16 and then lower the layer opacity for just a little bit more halftone.

12. Insert a background


Duplicate your Background layer again. Go to Filter>Pixelate>Color Halftone, set a Size of 42 to create a halftone backdrop. Insert a fill layer of #2b84a2 set to Multiply above this, and a gradient layer of #609ea9 to #19574b set to Soft Light above.

13. Place coloured shadows


Select the hair and skin layers, duplicate and merge. Duplicate again and move each one either side of the subject. Add fill layers above each one, #23e7ff and #74f7d0, set to clipping masks for each, and set both merged skin and hair layers to Multiply.

14. Outline features


Finally, with the Pen tool, make subtle outlines around curves in the picture, such as hair, shoulders or facial features. You can dodge and burn the final layer and add adjustments; follow our Expert Edit on how to do that.

  • Rock Ault

    I like the result, the best I saw on the internet. But I can not do it, do not you have a video where I can follow it? Thank you.