Deke’s Techniques 194: Creating an Andy Warhol-Style Silkscreen Effect in Photoshop

194 Creating a Warhol-style silkscreen effect

I’ve long had a fascination with simulating Andy Warhol-style serigraphs in Photoshop. Regular readers of this blog may recall dekePod episode 18: “The Andy Warhol Silkscreen Effect” from nearly four years ago.

Frankly, tho, looking back on that effect, it sucks. And at the risk of sounding like a self-righteous, born-again prig, so do everyone else’s effects, including those that you can render automatically using Warhol-style device and computer apps. Because here’s the thing: even though Warhol was an unapologetic capitalist who believed in exploiting art for money’s sake, he wasn’t an app or a rote set of instructions. He was an eccentric, oddball, affected, doll-hair-wearing, exceedingly commercial artist. In other words, in the broadest possible sense, Warhol was a human being. You know, like in the way Pluto is a planet.

Which is why for this and the next two weeks, I’m going to focus on that most classic of Warhol techniques, the mass-reproducible, celebrity-obsessed silkscreen/serigraph effect. Today, for example, I’ll show you how to convert the portrait shot on the left (not an actual celebrity, but perhaps she deserves to be, also very nicely captured by photographer olly at Fotolia) to the work of highly theoretically high art on the right.

The Andy Warhol silkscreen effect, in Photoshop, before and after

A musician friend of mine once told me, dismissively, that Johann Pachelbel wrote his famous Pachelbel’s Canon in five minutes while taking a dump. (This isn’t an actual fact. It was just my buddy busting Pachelbel’s chops.) Difference is, Andy Dub whipped out his creations in a matter of hours, charged thousands of $$$ for them, and later, after he kicked it, Warhol’s stuff dredged up millions in postmortem auctions. (Poor toilet-bound Pachelbel: like all musicians, he could not say the same.)

So I guess my point is this: wanna be an artist and get ahead in life and still have people think you’re a legitimate talent? Without wearing doll hair? Well, gosh, dunno if that’s possible, but here’s a start.

Just for the record, I like Warhol. Kinda mostly. I embrace his weirdness. Mostly kinda. If otherwise, I wouldn’t be emulating him. Kinda/mostly mostly/kinda. In any case, watch this video. It can be best defined as an act of Johann-Pachelbel-sitting-on-his-toilet-while-Andy-Warhol-watches-and-reacts solid-state shit. And yet, even after that somewhat disturbing analogy, you won’t be disappointed.

Oh, why did I insist on solid-state? It could have just as easily been squirty-state for all I care. Let’s face it (please, don’t take that literally), I really don’t know or care.

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  • suggestion

    When doing the erase (timeline about 14:05), instead of using a round brush, choose a ‘square’, 100% hard edge, brush . . . because it is far easier to align the square edge, rather than the one point tangential edge of a round brush, to make a great position choice.