Learn to create a monochrome stamp effect from a photo in Photoshop. Includes using filters such as Posterize, black and white, threshold and the Photocopy and Stamp filter to adjust the image to get the effect. Also see how Dodge and Burn can help you fine tune the effect.

Hello, I’m Helen Bradley. Welcome to this video tutorial. In this tutorial I’m going to show you how you can convert an image so that it looks like a stamped monochromatic image.

Before we get started on this tutorial this is the effect that we’re looking for. I have an original bird image here and what we’re going to do is to firstly get rid of the background around the bird. And then we’re going to convert it to black and white. We’ll posterize it and then we’ll apply a filter to it. And finally we’re going to apply the Threshold Adjustment. And we’re going to end up with this sort of stamped monochromatic effect from an original photograph. So let’s just hide that and let’s get started on the image that we’re working with. And I have a duplicate image sitting here.

Now I’ve already gone ahead and made the mask for this image so that we’re not wasting a lot of time cutting out the bird. But essentially what I would use is the Quick Select tool to just select over the bird. And then I made a duplicate of the background layer by just dragging it onto the New Layer icon and then just clicked this Layer Mask icon and that adds a layer mask to the image. So there’s the bit that we had selected. Then obviously I would make a much better selection and this would give me my isolated bird here.

So the next thing that we’re going to do is to convert this to black and white. So I’m going to click on the topmost layer and we’re going to do this using an adjustment layer. The reason for this is that it can then be redone later on if we don’t like the effect. So I’m going Layer, New Adjustment Layer, Black and White and click Ok, and here is the black and white adjustment.

Now what I’m looking for here is that we’re going to make this into a pure black and white only image later on so I want plenty of detail here. So I’m just going to walk these sliders in either direction to see where they go. And I want some edge detail because that’s going to define the birds so I probably want to bring the blue channels and the purple channels over towards the black. And let’s just see where the red gets us. I want to definitely see the bird’s eye so I want that to be different to the colors surrounding the bird. So I’m just looking for a reasonably good black and white conversion at this point, and I’ll just close that down.

Next we’re going to use Layer, New Adjustment Layer, Posterize. And what the posterize adjustment does is it flattens the image to a certain number of colors. They’re called levels but here we’ve got four levels of lightness and darkness. So if we had a color image we’d have four colors. And we can wind this up to a sort of surrealistic amount or we can take it back to a less realistic, more stylized amount. And that’s exactly what we want here.

But you’ll see that every time you change this it has different affects around the edge. So the difference between 5 and 7 and perhaps 6 and 5 is really quite significant. So I’m looking for a number of levels that gives me a good result. I’m worried about the eye disappearing here. Three is not enough. Four is a whole lot better. I really quite like that four so I’m just going to let that be what we’re using here. At this point if we were not getting the exact result that we like we could go back and dodge and burn on this layer. So we could grab the Dodge or Burn tools here to darken and lighten the image by clicking on these, taking the highlights, just make the brush a little bit smaller and perhaps brush around the edges here to darken it up which will ensure that later on we’re going to get some dark edges around the edge of our bird. So if that’s of concern to you selecting a tool such as Dodge or Burn will allow you to lighten and darken the areas around this bird that you want to have lighter or darker.

So for example if we really wanted to see this eye we could lighten the areas around the eye. So you can craft that to an extent using the Dodge and Burn tools here. So I’m just going to burn in a little bit around the top of the leg and the sides of the leg here, and perhaps just under the belly. So once we’ve done that I’m going to come up to the topmost layer and I’m going to make a flattened version of the image so far. And I do that by holding Ctrl and Alt and Shift and E, that’s Command, Option, Shift E on the Mac. And this gives us a flattened version of this that we can now apply a filter to.

I could use smart filters but the filter is just going to be fine for this. So I’m going to choose Filter and then Filter Gallery but before I do this I’m making sure I’ve got black and white as my foreground and background colors because the filter set that we’re using relies on black and white for the color. So if you don’t have black and white selected as the color it’s not going to be a black and white effect that you’re going to end up with. So I’m just going to drag this back in. And I used the Photocopy earlier, and I found that that was a really good result for me.

But you could also try the Stamp and see if in the light and dark balance you can get what you want with the Stamp. We’re going to get pretty much the Stamp effect by just using the Photocopy. But I’ve got a way of getting rid of these sort of almost blurry sort of gradient detail in the bird’s back. So I’m going to ignore that for now and just go for a good sort of stamped effect. I’m looking at the blacks and the whites in this image because that’s essentially what I’m going to get at the end of this. So I’m going to say that that’s good and click Ok.

And the final tool that we need to make these areas disappear is a Threshold Adjustment. And again, I’ll do this using an adjustment layer with Layer, New Adjustment layer and then Threshold. Now Threshold is an unusual sort of filter. What it does is it turns everything either pure black or pure white. There is no in between. And this selector here tells Photoshop at which point we want the colors to go to white or to black. So if we wind this back down a little bit we’re going to get rid of some of these areas in here and they’re become darker or lighter according to how we have this selected.

So I’m just going to go around about that midpoint because we do have this as an adjustment layer which means that if we make changes to this layer they will affect the adjustment layer. So I’m just going back to the Dodge tool here and just see if I can get rid of the very obvious sort of circling effect here, so I’ll just make that a little less obvious that that was something that got left behind with the Photocopy filter. Let’s just bring the exposure right up. And there’s our finished bird there. And we can do whatever we like with it.

You may want to save it out so that you could use it perhaps with a background color or something like that. But there’s this sort of stamped monochromatic effect created in Photoshop. And it’s done very easily by first just isolating the object and then converting it to black and white in a way that gives you the contrast that you want, posterize it to flatten it to some levels of color or levels of tonal range, create a brand new layer from that and apply a Photocopy or Stamp filter to it and then finally finish off with the Threshold Adjustment.

I’m Helen Bradley. Thank you for joining me for this video tutorial. If you liked the tutorial please Like it and comment on it and share it with your friends. Look out for more videos on my YouTube channel and visit projectwoman.com for more tutorials on Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, GIMP, Lightroom, Illustrator and a whole lot more.

Helen Bradley