Month: January 2012

How to Make a Pop Art picture using GIMP: a step-by-step guide

Quite a few people have asked me how to do a Pop Art style image along the lines of the one I did of Alfred Russel Wallace last year.

I actually found an clearer way of doing this through a YouTube GIMP tutorial by the excellent Malgalin. Here are the instructions he gives but written out in a step-by-step manner. Hope that they are useful alongside the video!


For this I used GIMP 2.6. You can download this excellent Open Source image manipulation programme (much the same as Adobe Photoshop) for free by going to the GIMP website.

1.   Open the image you would like to turn into a Pop Art image.  
2.   Duplicate layer twice so you have three copies. Do this by right clicking the image in the ‘Layer’ dialogue box and selecting ‘Duplicate Layer’. 
3.   Bottom layer should be made invisible (click on the eye so that it disappears);
4.      With top layer selected (i.e. highlighted in the ‘Layer’ dialogue box): Right click image > Colours > Invert [Should now look like a negative]
5.      Then right click image again and go to Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Set the horizontal and vertical pixels to 7 each;
6.      Go to Layers Dialog Box. Change the mode of the top layer from ‘Normal’ to ‘Dodge’;
7.      Merge the two visible layers;
8.      Right click on the image: Colours > Threshold. Change the Black point to around 240. Then change the black point until you get the level of detail that you want. Click ‘Ok’;
9.      Now you create a New Layer. This should be transparent, should be at the top and should be called ‘Matte Colour’. Change the mode of this layer to ‘Multiply’ in the Layers Dialog box [this means that it will leave the black outline currently on the image, it will not go over this];
10.  Now fill in the image (on top of the Matte Colour layer) with the Matte colours that you would like to be included;
11.   Merge Matte Colour layer and the layer below;
12.  Make the background layer visible again and move to the top. Set that in the layer mode as ‘Overlay’;
13.  Finally, right click on image > Filters > Distorts > Newsprint.
14.  You can also then change the layer to Hue (to make it looked washed out) or Multiply to make it look darker.