Turn Your Anime Art Into Pop Art


Hi guys! Over the course of this two part series I'm going to cover how to take an already completed anime style portrait and turn it into pop art.

Choose your anime portrait and prepare your layers

Feel free to pick out any existing art in your gallery to follow along! I painted my anime girl just for this tutorial so that's ok too.

Since I opened my original .clip file with all of the layers I used to create my drawing still intact, I need to clean it up a bit before it gets really cluttered and so I don't damage my original layers.

Click on the bottom layer, then hold shift and click on the top layer to select everything in between.
Once selected, click on any of the layers and choose "create folder and insert layer". This will do exactly what it sounds like and put all of your selected layers into a new folder.

Once tucked away safely, it's time to make a copy of the image you want to work with. Right click on the folder and choose "merge visible to new layer".

This will make a flattened copy of everything you can see on your canvas and put it in a new layer.

Now make some copies of your copy. Right click on your new layer and select "duplicate layer".
I did this twice so I had three layers to start with, but you can do it one time if you prefer.
These copies will be used to create the shading and tone affects so be sure to keep your original merged copy so you can duplicate it again as needed.

Extract the Shadows with Binarization

Choose your copied layer that is at the top.
Mouse up to "Edit", then down to "tonal correction" and selecting "binarization".

Binarization makes the entire layer black and white. Depending on the threshold your image will be light or darker. The higher the number, the deeper the shadows.

Inversely the lower the number, the brighter the image will be.

Play with the slider until you have a balanced result.
Later we will extract darker and lighter layers to use.

Once satisfied, click "ok".

Change the layer mode of your newly binarized layer to "multiply".

Now you should be able to see the other layers underneath.

Remove the White from the Binarized Layer

We can't see the white in our multiply layer because of the way the mode works, but it's still there. In order to achieve the affect we want, we need to remove all of the colors other than black.

In the "layer property" window, change the "expression color" to monochrome.

Then click on the black square. This will remove everything except black.
If you clicked the white square, black would be removed instead.

If you want to check if this worked properly, go back to your layer mode and choose "normal". You should no longer see a black and white image and it should really look the same as on multiply.

This is a very quick way of extracting lines from a drawing.

Go back to the "expression color" and change it back to color.

Color the Binarized Layer

Now that the blacks are extracted, it's time to add some color.

Lock the transparency on the multiply layer.

Select the color you would like to use for your shadows.
I chose a mid range purple.

Fill the entire layer. There are many ways to do this, but one of the fastest is to use the bucket "fill" located in the tool bar at the top of the software.

Here is the result after filling the layer. You can see that it has darkened the original image, but only in the parts where the black was previously.

Fill Your Shadow with Screen Tone

The Pop Art we are making will have a nice "half tone" effect.
This can be done easily in Clip Studio Paint using any of the many methods for creating "screen tone".

Make sure you are still on the multiply layer.
Then click the "tone" icon in the layer property window.

The shadows have been filled with a black screen tone. However, the default size is too small to be seen clearly unless zoomed in very far.

This is easily fixed by adjusting the "number of screen frequency" slider. Bring the slider to the left so the number is smaller.
Here I used 17.0 but feel free to experiment and do what looks correct to you. The actual size will vary based on the resolution of your image as well.

Remove the Background

We will come back to the color of the half tone a later in this article. The next step will be to remove the background from the image to better prepare it for the pop art imagery behind the character.

Feel free to skip this step if your character had a transparent background or a solid color.

If I'm not sure I will like the result of something, I tend to make additional copies so I can go back. I duplicate the merged layer again.

Using the magic wand, aka the auto select tool, I click around my image until I have everything other than the character selected. I do some clean up with the lasso tool.

Once the background is selected, I fill it with blue.

This layer was created underneath of the screen tone layer, so you can still see the stained glass pattern.

In order to add different imagery later, we need to remove the screen tone.

Make sure you still have the same selection that you filled the background color with.
Switch to the screen tone layer, and click clear to delete outside of the character's shading.

Add Another Layer of Shadows

This is essentially a repeat of the first binarization step we took. This time, however, use a higher number for the threshold so deeper shadows are created.
I used the backup layer I made before, but if you skipped that step, go ahead and duplicate the merged layer again.

You will should see that the image has screen on top of the black and white binarized layer. If not, check your layer order.

Once happy with the amount black filled, click "ok".

Change the layer mode of this new binarized layer to multiply as you did previously.

Color the Screen Tone Layers

Use the magic wand to select the white color only.
Clear it.

This is another way of removing the white. Note that this only works easily on clean black and white images.

I stepped through the other method of switching the "expression color" earlier because it is incredibly useful in many cases.

Lock the opacity and fill with your color of choice.
I used the same blue that is seen in the background.

Select the layer you used "tone" on earlier.

In the layer property window click "layer color".

By default this is a bright blue color. Click the "layer color" swatch to replace the color with the color in use.

I chose a deep magenta color.

Reduce Character's Colors using Gradient Maps

It's time to simplify the shading for the character.

Create another duplicate of the merged layer.

Use the magic wand to select your background color. Then clear everything outside of the character yet again.

It would have been more prudent to make copies of the layer after clearing the background once, but I didn't know how many times I'd be duplicating things so I had to repeat this step several times.

Once the character is isolated, click "edit", then mouse down to "tonal correction". This time select "gradient map".

Choose a gradient map from your library of gradients.

I chose the "Whispy Gradient Set" and the "pop 3" gradient. It had a similar feeling to my character, but reduced the colors smoothly.

You can download this gradient set below.


Clean up your layers and Outline the Character

Before moving forward, I cleaned up my layers and put them into another folder. Too many layers clutter my thought process so I like being able to "tuck them away" into folders to access as I need to.

This is also necessary to create the collage featuring the character later on.

Just as before I shift select my layers and insert them into a new folder.

Create a new layer underneath of the new "character" folder and fill it with a neutral color.

Select the character folder then open the "layer property" window.

Choose the "border effect" option this time.

Replace the default white color with black.

Adjust the "thickness of edges" until you are pleased with the way it looks.

This helps separate the character from the background and gives the art a more "bold" feeling.

Create another merged duplicate layer. Move it into the character folder and change the layer mode to "multiply".

Open Binarization and lower the threshold so only a few black accents remain. I set it to 58. The threshold for your own portrait will depend on how heavily shaded and clean the starting portrait was or was not.

Click "ok".

Lay out the Character Collage

With the conversion of the character complete, it is time to prepare the file for the character collage. We'll be doing a four character collage as is commonly seen in contemporary Pop Art.

If you only plan on doing one "version" of your character pop art, you can skip this last step and continue to part 2 of this series.

Right click on the character folder and duplicate it. Do this three times so you end up with four character folders total.

Select all four folders and scale them down to approximately 1/4 the original size.
Click "Ok".

Select one folder at a time and use the move tool to space the duplicated characters evenly. It's ok if it's not perfect.
While moving the folders, hold shift and drag to snap along either the X or the Y axis (horizontal and vertical), depending on your movement. This will help when lining the portraits up.

Closing Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed part one of "Anime Pop Art"!

I tried to be more concise with this Tips article. I wanted it to be easy to follow for beginners as well as those more adept with the software.

In part two I will cover how to add imagery and creating patterns for the portrait you just turned into pop art.

About the Author

My name is FalyneVarger. I have been drawing for most of my life. I started working commercially about 10 years ago and have created artwork for books, games, comics, and more non-commercial commissions than I can remember.

I'm @falynevarger in most places, but you can find me online at any of the links below!



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