This serving tray DIY demonstrates my love of pop art! Today’s tutorial will show you how to convert any photo into a pop art masterpiece to upcycle a plain ‘ol tray! I equate this project to an electronic version of an adult colouring book and it’s super fun to do!
Pop Art Inspiration
I’ve always been fascinated with pop art, and in my mind no one does pop art in the Great White North better than Canadian artist Brandy Saturley. You can’t help but love her work. With winter being Canada’s longest season, we NEED colour in our lives! And Brandy’s Canadian-themed paintings are gloriously colourful. She captures Canadian pop culture, symbolism and the landscape like no other Canadian artist.
Next month marks Remembrance Day and Brandy’s painting “Poppies for Louise’, with those vibrant red poppies in the foreground, speaks to me this time of year! As Brandy herself says, “it’s really hard to talk about art but it’s really easy to show it in the work and let people see what they see”. So I encourage you to check out Brandy’s body of work for yourself. Which one inspires you?
Although I can’t paint, Brandy’s artistry has inspired me to share my own pop art diy creation with you today. Now onto the serving tray DIY tutorial!
Dig Out Those Photos!
The convenience of smart phones and electronic gadgets means it’s not really necessary to print pictures in order to see them. It’s a breeze to take, store and view pictures all on the same device. With printing pictures becoming a thing of the past, I found a great way to enhance our home decor. Using a picture that would otherwise never see the light of day, I turn it into pop art! It’s a great way to preserve memories.
A pop art serving tray will give you double bang for the buck – it’s functional as well as decorative! Use a tray that has removable glass and it will protect the picture. When it’s not being used as a tray, it can sit displayed on a shelf. That way, it doubles as an art piece in your space.
Serving Tray DIY – What You’ll Need
- Editing software
- Serving tray with glass insert (mine is 17″ x 12 1/2″)
Software for Serving Tray DIY
I use Photoshop to transform a regular photo into pop art. I should point out that I didn’t have much experience using Photoshop before I created this project. I spent some time googling how-to’s and watching videos. Then pieced together what I learned. If I can do it with zero experience, you can get a cool result too! Later I’ll give you a link to an awesome website where you can learn more about Photoshop.
By the way, I’m using an older version of Photoshop (CS5.5). So your menus may be different than mine. If you have any questions about where to find things in your own version, just google where to find ‘x’ in version ‘x’ (fill in the x’s with your own particular info).
Our tray is thrifted so keep your eyes open. If you want a similar one, you can also try Homesense (the equivalent in the States is Homegoods). The interior dimensions are 15″ x 10 1/2″, so an 8″ x 10″ will fit nicely under the glass.
Serving Tray DIY Video Tutorial
If you’re a visual learner like me, take some time to watch this video to see how to create your pop art portrait in Photoshop! The step-by-step tutorial follows below!
Serving Tray DIY – Prepare Line Art
1. Duplicate Background
In this step we’re going to change the threshold setting on two copies of the original photo so we can turn the picture into line art (black and white). We’ll then apply a mask to the top layer so we can remove certain areas of it and see parts of the lower layer coming through. A mask is ideal to use because it won’t permanently change anything; everything can be reversed if necessary.
Open your own picture in Photoshop and make sure you have layers open (Window, Layers).
Duplicate the background layer twice (Control J on a PC, or Command J on a Mac) and rename the very top one ‘Copy‘ and the other one below it ‘Line Art‘. I always leave the original photo as-is (background layer) and make duplicates so I can refer back to it if I have to.
Before you work with each layer, ‘de-select’ the eye icon on the other layers to hide them so that only the eye icon on the layer you are working with is active. If you forget to do this, you won’t be able to see the changes you make.
With the Copy layer selected, click on filter, filter gallery and adjust the view to 33% so you can see the changes that are being made as you adjust the picture. Click on artistic, poster edges. I chose 8 for the edge thickness, 1 for edge intensity and 6 for the posterization settings.
2. Set Threshhold
With the Copy layer still selected, head up to the top menu bar and click Image, Adjustments, Threshold. I set mine to 125, but you may need to play with the settings for your particular picture.
When you change the threshold of the picture you’ll notice that it creates ‘noise’: those little specs of black that add clutter. You can see the noise most with the stubble on the face (as you can see below) but we’re going to clean that up by changing the threshold on the line art layer too and then using a mask on the copy layer to remove it.
Line Art Layer
Click on the Line Art layer and do the same thing (Image, Adjustments, Threshold) but make this setting much lower so all the noise in the face is either gone or greatly reduced.
Use a Layer Mask
Using a layer mask is a non destructive way to make elements of your image appear or disappear. Click on the Copy layer and add a layer mask using the Add Layer Mask icon (it’s the grey square icon with the white circle in the middle, or the 3rd icon from the left at the bottom of the layers panel). Once you add the mask, the copy layer will show an additional white thumbnail beside the thumbnail of the picture (circled below).
Before using the colour swatches, make sure opacity is set to 100% (opacity can be found in the tool bar above your picture). By using the black and white colour swatches, and the brush tool, we’re going to remove some of the noise. Select the white thumbnail on the Copy layer and choose black as the colour swatch. Simply swipe the brush tool over areas of the face where you want to remove the noise. If you accidentally remove something that you want to restore, select the white colour swatch and swipe the brush where you want the graphic back. You can switch back and forth between black and white as needed.
As an aside, another way to undo accidental mistakes right away is to use the shortcut key control Z (command Z on a Mac) and it will undo your last step.
When you are done cleaning up the noise, you’ll end up with something like the second picture shown in the next step.
Before and After Comparison
In the pictures below, you can see the difference removing the noise makes. You get a defined graphic look imparted by the poster edges added from the filter gallery to the Copy layer and the clean look of the lower threshold added to the Line Art layer. Now for the fun part: the next step is to add the colour!
Serving Tray DIY – Using Masks to Colour
I used an adjustment layer to apply a colour mask for each element of the line art I wanted to colour by filling the mask with solid colour and then removing colour from areas that didn’t need it.
The first adjustment layer I did was the skin tone. I highlighted the line art layer and then clicked on the Adjustment icon (it’s the black and white icon, or 4th from the left at the bottom of the layers panel), then I chose solid colour. I picked a skin tone in the orange family with the selector and clicked OK. Make sure your layer mask is selected.
Click on the Layers drop down menu and choose Multiply. Then move the new layer above the ‘Copy’ layer. If you forget to click Multiply, when you do this you’ll see nothing but solid colour.
Don’t worry, you can just select Multiply after it’s moved and you’ll see the rest of the line art showing through along with the chosen colour.
Now, follow the four steps shown in the picture below. Click on the white thumbnail in the ‘Color fill 1’ layer (which you can rename to ‘skin tone’ if you like). Select the brush tool. If black isn’t already your foreground colour, switch from white to black now. Then brush over the areas that you DON’T want to be skin tone. In my case, that was everywhere but the face and neck.
If you click on your artwork after selecting the brush tool and get a message that reads ‘the fill for this layer must be rasterized before proceeding’. That means you forgot to click on the mask thumbnail (the second one to the right side of the layer). Click cancel and click on the mask then continue with the brush.
Zoom in for Detail
You will likely need to zoom in and enlarge your artwork to remove all the colour that isn’t needed (like for the beaded necklace shown in the second last picture). You’ll also need to adjust the size of the brush (the keyboard shortcut is to use the right square bracket key to make a brush bigger and the left square bracket key to make it smaller). In the last picture, you can see some of the enlarged areas circled that need finessing.
Are you still a little confused at this point? Don’t worry, I’m going to review all these instructions again for the second layer of colour (Review of Steps).
Wash, Rinse, Repeat (so to Speak)!
Now it’s just a matter of repeating the same steps to colour your next layer (as you’ll see reviewed again in the next step).
You can add whatever colours you like. You can make it simple and only do a few layer masks or add as many as you like to really make it pop – it’s up to you!
In the sample shown below, I used 8 layer masks: 1. Skin Tone (flesh), 2. T-shirt (orange), 3.Sky (blue), 4. Hoodie (green), 5. Lips (1 – red) 6. Lips (2 – natural) 7. Gums (mid-tone flesh) 8. Skin tone (darker flesh tone for male). It can be helpful to rename the layers as you go. Later you’ll see I also added some greenery in the trees.
Review of Steps – Add Layers and Colorize
Using the second layer as an example, I’m painting with the brush tool to hide all but the T-shirt leaving it orange. Here again are the steps listed out so you can follow along with the pictures:
- Highlight the Line Art layer. Add adjustment Layer (the black and white icon, 4th from the left at the bottom of the layers panel).
- Select a colour from the colour picker.
- On the Layers drop down menu, select Multiply.
- Change the name of layer to reflect where you are placing the colour. Move the new layer to the top by dragging it.
- If you forget to select Multiply, the layer will look solid when you move it; in that case, just select multiply after it’s moved.
- Click on the white thumbnail (don’t forget to do this: if you are on the picture thumbnail instead, you will get a message asking if you want to rasterize before proceeding. Select cancel and then select the white thumbnail to get back on track).
- Select black as your colour. Use the brush tool to remove colour in the areas you don’t want it. If you accidentally erase a colour, you can get it back by switching the colour swatch to white and wiping over those areas with the brush tool to restore it.
- Reduce the size of the brush tool in order to get into tighter areas where you want to remove colour. Also increase the zoom of the artwork itself so you can see better detail of what you’re removing. The keyboard shortcut for zoom, is Control + (or Command + on a Mac). Control – (Command – on Mac) will zoom out the screen again.
A Few Tips for Serving Tray DIY
To remove colour cleanly in areas where you don’t want to erase it, move the brush away from the line instead of along it. You’ll have better control.
If you forget to remove a colour, you can go back and fix it later. For instance, notice below that the teeth should be white. Just highlight the relevant layer (in this case the skin layer). Then click on the mask thumbnail and remove the colour as described earlier.
For the beaded necklace, I got lazy. I added colour directly onto the copy layer by resizing the brush to the same size as the beads, changing the opacity of the colour to around 50% and clicking on each one. Just realize that if you do that, it will be a permanent change that can’t be undone later. Use a mask; it’s forgiving!
Rename each layer
For multiple colours, it helps to rename all the layer masks to identify the colour it represents on each layer.
When I changed Hubs’ skin tone, I realized it looks too dark. You can double click on the mask icon, then adjust the opacity of the colour with the slidebar (I changed the opacity to 49%). Alternately, click on the mask thumbnail and select a new colour altogether instead of playing with opacity!
Easier way to erase noise
I ended up permanently erasing some of the noise that was on the line art layer after I adjusted it by use of threshold. If you want to avoid that (discovering that after the fact), instead of applying the filter to both copies of the original picture, you can just apply the threshold to the line art layer. It will give you a cleaner picture to start.
Learning More About Photoshop Layer Masks
If you want to learn more advanced techniques on how to use layer masks in Photoshop, check out the attached YouTube video from Phlearn.
Phlearn is an excellent resource for learning more about any Photoshop technique in general, so you may want to subscribe to the channel while you’re at it!
Serving Tray Decor
When the picture is complete, print through a photography store. Ours is 8″ x 10″, but you can scale it to any size that fits your particular tray. Just remove the glass from the tray, ‘pop’ in the picture (see what I did there?) and replaced the glass.
A pop art serving tray makes a unique and thoughtful gift. I made one for my sister using pictures of the kids and it was a huge hit. It’s now a treasured keepsake that documents when the kids were young (and when I was still taller than them)!
When you’re not using it, keep it on display. In an all white kitchen, the pop of colour can really add interest.
International Bloggers Club
It’s time for another Int’l Bloggers Club challenge and this month the theme is ‘Local Love‘. As you saw earlier, I’m celebrating my love of Canadian artist Brandy Saturley and taking inspiration from her distinct pop realism style. But ‘Local Love’ had a double meaning for me: this post is also a celebration of my love for Hubs since I’m using a favourite picture of us in this DIY.
If you missed our debut post, the Int’l Bloggers Club is a group of blogging friends from around the globe who come together on the third Monday of every month to share a themed DIY project. We have members from Spain, South Africa, Australia, the USA, and Canada. Don’t forget to check out what the other ladies from the IBC have done with their Local Love challenge at the end of this post!
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More Craft Rehab
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Int’l Bloggers Club – Local Love
And now onto the rest of the uber-talents participating in this IBC Local Love Challenge:
- A Crafty Mix – DIY Ndebele Planters
- Raggedy Bits – How to Make A Whitewashed Farmhouse Sign
- Unique Creations by Anita – How to Use Iron on Vinyl
- Birdz of a Feather – Pop Art Serving Tray
- Interior Frugalista – Alberta Wild Rose Decoupage Napkin Coaster