DIY Painted Pop Art

Photo to Pop Art

{This post was originally shared at Infarrantly Creative}.  One of my very favorite things to do is design in Photoshop.  In fact, I picked it up way before ever tackling painting… you know, with actual paint and a brush, in hand.  Today we are going to do a bit of both, in this acrylic painting right on the glass from a picture frame.  So, grab your favorite photo, lets tweak it a little Photoshop (beginner level, I promise), and use it to guide us in painting our own Warhol style pop art portrait.


  • Photoshop
  • Digital image file
  • Picture frame with glass
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Acrylic paint in white and a deep, vibrant color of your choice
  • Fine paint brush for detailing, larger brush for dabbing (sponge or stencil brush) and one in between
  • Masking tape
  • Newspaper to protect surface
  • mixing palette for acrylics (paper plate or cardboard)
  • Heat tool (optional)


How to make pop art

Free tutorial for Photoshop

For width and height, you want to put in whatever your frame size is, which needs to be a size your printer can print.  Here, I went with 8×10 inch.  For the purpose of this project, set resolution to 300 ppi (field shown in above pic after width and height).

pop art with photoshop

After cropping, duplicate the background layer (I don’t like to directly edit the background layer in case I need to go back to it).  You can select duplicate from the layers palette window, or better yet, hit Command (Control for Windows) and the letter j at the same time…

pop art

Now desaturate the image (turn to black and white) with keyboard shortcut Command (Cntrl on windows) + Shift + the letter u.  I removed the background layer out of habit.  We don’t need to do this since the digital image is not our final piece of art.  Just leave it in and ignore it in the painting part (which will make sense soon).  After you desaturate, duplicate (control + J) the layer and rename it “Subjects”.

pop art tutorial for photoshop

photoshop tutorials pop art

Free photoshop tutorial

Photoshop beginner tutorial

pop art in photoshop

Open the Levels adjustment window and move the white and gray triangles around to get a photo with white, black and 2-3 shades of gray.  The black triangle on the left can stay put…

andy warhol pop art

photo shop tutorials

Now you are ready to print your image on just regular copy paper.

*NOTE:  If having the final portrait in the same orientation as the digital file is important to you, you will want to horizontally flip the image before printing it.  You can do this in Photoshop by going to the top left of the screen in the horizontal toolbar;  Go to EDIT—>Transform—>Flip Horizontal.

Remove the glass from the frame and clean it with rubbing alcohol and a lint free towel.

pictures pop art

On protected work surface, place print face up, then line up the glass on top of this…

tutorials on photoshop

Tape glass to print to keep it from shifting while you paint.

tutorials on photoshop

Now you are going to paint right on the glass, in layers – one color at a time.  First with white, then your color, then a light shade of your color and finally a darker shade of your color.  You must let each layer dry completely before moving on to the next to avoid unwanted blending.  I use a heat tool fot this, but you can let it air dry if you want.

First, the white…

Painting on glass

Now the color, as is, you will shade in the darkest areas.  These are the areas that are black in the print.  Use a light weight, taper point brush and create texture where hair frames the face and at the eyelashes and brows.

glass painting

le pop art

Now the light shade of your color, which you make by adding a couple of drips of your color to about a tablespoon (really… a tablespoon?) of white…

paint glass

Reminder to dry between layers…

Warhol a photo

And now that the paint is dry…Painting portrait

Now for your final layer.  This is a darker shade of your color (darker than the light shade, but not darker than the original color), made by mixing less white, more color than you did above.

Painting with Acrylics

Acrylic painting

Finally!  Flip the glass over and check out your masterpiece…

Pop art painting

See how it is reversed horizontally from the image?  Something to keep in mind, especially if there is text in the image you are painting.  Frame it and you are done.

Here are a couple more I did with the same technique.

DIY pop art pictures

Photo to Pop Art

These are a big hit, quite inexpensive to make and work up in less than an hour (especially if you use a heat tool to dry between layers).  I grab frames to have on hand while at thrift stores and flea markets for just this kind of thing.  Photos to pop art digitally is fun, but there is a different kind of  satisfaction that comes with getting paint all over the place once in awhile, right?  I love that you don’t have to be at all skilled in painting to get a cool effect (I am living proof)!

Another great idea to do with a photo is to have a photo mug made, which you can do inexpensively and without the mess of acrylics!  Find out more.

Thanks for checking out my project.  I hope you are inspired to create your own.

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