Photoshop Quick Tip: Turn Any Photo into a Screen Printed Graphic

Photoshop Quick Tip: Turn Any Photo into a Screen Printed Graphic

Screen printed graphics have a certain retro look and feel, which I love. Recently, I set out to find an easy way to recreate this look in Photoshop. Below are the steps I took to transform a photo into a screen print.

First up, Here’s a look at what we’ll be creating.

To start off, grab a good photo that you would like to transform to a screen print image. I used this awesome tiger photo by Tambako the Jaguar.

Step 1

Open the photo in Photoshop, and create a very rough selection around the tiger’s face using the Lasso Tool (L). Press (Cmd+C) to copy the selection.

Create a new document (Cmd+N). The sizing will already be set based on the copy. Press okay, and then (Cmd+V) to paste the tiger onto the new document.

Step 2

Now let’s roughen up the photo to make it look like something from an old photo copier. Desaturate the image by pressing (Cmd+Shift+U). Then select (Filter | Noise | Add Noise). I used a setting of 55% for the amount.

Next, add a Gaussian Blur (Filter | Blur | Gaussian Blur) with a setting around 3.

Now we’re going to apply a Smart Sharpen (Filter | Sharpen | Smart Sharpen) to add that final bit of roughness to the image.

Step 3

For the final step we need to convert the image to Grayscale (Image | Mode | Grayscale). You can select to flatten the image when prompted. Then we need to select (Image | Mode | Bitmap). I selected 72dpi for my output, and Halftone Screen for the method. For the Halftone Screen I used the following settings.

From here you can switch back to Grayscale mode and then back to RGB. I placed the graphic in this mockup file to display the effect.

For use in your vector artwork you could also take the graphic over to Illustrator and run an Auto Trace. Below is an auto traced vector. I used the One Color Logo preset.

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Nathan Brown

Nathan Brown is a graphic designer who loves working with various media. He combines traditional art styles with a little experimentation and digital flare. Nathan's works have contained everything from ink and paint to leaves and a box of dirt. Everything is fare game when it comes to his approach to art. Nathan lives in Austin, Texas where he has been working as a designer for 10 years.


(+add yours)
  1. This was useful. Just started experimenting with material printing. Thank you!

  2. wa10

    A question all goes well until step 3 does not come out as sharp

    • Same for me. Although I used a lot of images and the tiger I don’t have that sharp. The final image looks more like with 8bit.

    • You may need to adjust the settings on the Smart Sharpen filter… depending on the photo you are using and it’s original resolution.

      • Thanks for the answer. I will test it and I will come back with the results.

  3. Quick and easy, great tutorial for creating T-shirts !

  4. superbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb ur really great……….

  5. Pasha911

    GREAT WORK Nathan. Have you idea how can me make “Western Wanted Poster by using Photoshop”. Please share with us. Thanks. and yes again GREAT WORK…

  6. Now, with the help of creating this type of image with Photoshop, people can make their personalized things very beautiful by adding their choice’s image like listed in this blog.

  7. Excellent. Nobody writes more clearly explained, step-by-step tutes. Many thanks.

  8. Great thank you for sharing really helpful for newbies as me !

  9. i like great Thanks. and yes again really helpful for newbies as me

  10. Thanks for this. Quite useful as I’ve been collecting a large number of photos to make into T-shirts! Thanks again for the tips.

  11. thank you for carefully detailing the creative process.

  12. Thank’s for this Great Tutorial :)

  13. Amil

    Hi Im just starting screen printing and i needed to know what version of photoshop and illustrator do u guys use.

  14. homeboy

    auto-trace is for posers

  15. Matt

    Hi this is great ! I’ve had several attempts at this but the finished effect is never the crisp dots you achieved here? What resolution and size is your tiger photo?

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  20. Cynthia

    Thank’s a lot! Pretty simple and useful.

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  28. johhny darko

    thanks bro

  29. Does anyone knows hot to achieve this results from a chromebook? I am looking different apps but cant figure out. Thanks in advance.

  30. THANK YOU!

  31. Kamal Mooslem

    I love all of your article. This tutorial is simple, easy to understand and what can I say more, YES. It’s truly amazing on silkscreen printing. Keep it up admin.

  32. it’s really good job and helptul photoshop tutorial …thanks

  33. A step by step guided tutorial. Will be helpful for newbies like me :)

  34. Jeremy

    How do you make it transparent so that the white isn’t printed? I followed your steps, but mine isn’t transparent as yours seems to be in the final picture.

  35. Great post ,I heard to very glad your post.This is very fantastic for all one because there is something free.I want saying you something about me when At my school, we were all given a certain number of packs of paper for the semester. When we copied, we had to use our own paper so we all were loading paper in the machine.

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