Create a Pop Art Style Poster with Urban City Background in Photoshop

In this Photoshop tutorial, I will show you the process I used to create this Pop Art Style Poster with urban city background in Photoshop by using a combination of Photoshop Filter effects. Again this effect is discovered by accident and I thought I can share it with you guys :)

Along the way, we will be using a lot of filter effects,  masking technique, layer blending options, a number of selection techniques including the use of edge refining and magic wand. The steps are quite simple for this tutorial, however the end result looks good in my opinion.  Have a try!

Here is a preview of my final image for this tutorial:


Black and White version:


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Ok let’s get started!

Step 1

Firstly let’s download this wonderful model image and load it into Photoshop. Duplicate the background layer once and go to Filter > Artistic > Cutout and apply the following settings:


Name this duplicated layer as “cut out” and change the blending mode of it to “Hard Light”. Then make another duplication of this “cut out” layer and you will have the following effect:


Now you will see the the bottom part of the photo is completely black, which is not very nice in my opinion. To reveal the original image, we can add a vector mask to each “cut out” layer and grab a big soft eraser to erase the portion as shown below:


And you will see the original texture come back:


Step 2

Go back to the background layer and make another duplication of it. Drag the duplicated layer on top of all previous layer and go to Filter > Sketch > Chrome and apply the following settings:


Name this duplicated layer as “chrome” and change the layer blending mode to “soft light”. Then duplicate the “chrome” once more and you will have the following effect:


Step 3

Now we can add a light source (I chose from the top right) for this image so later on we can have some dynamic light effect. To do this, go back to the background layer and duplicate it once more. Drag the duplicate layer above all other layers, go to Filter > Noise > Median and apply the following settings:


Rename this layer as “Median” and add a vector mask to it, grab a big soft eraser and erase the portion as shown below:


And you will have the folloiwng effect so far:


Step 4

Now we can add a urban city background to the image. Download a copy of this city image and load it into Photoshop. Drag the entire image onto our canvas and resize until it covers the whole canvas.

On this newly created layer, apply the following adjustments:

Black and White



Then apply the following filters:

Halftone Pattern


Box Blur


Name this layer as “city” and you will have the following effect as a result:


Step 5

Go back to the background layer, grab the Magic Wand tool and make a selection of the white area:


Hit Ctrl + Alt + R and bring up the Refine Edge tool, apply the following settings:


Hit Ctrl + Shift + I and inverse the selection, go back to the “city” layer and go to Edit > Clear and you will have see the model image pop out:


Step 6

Duplicate the “city” layer once and on the duplicated layer, go to Filter > Blur > Radial Blur and apply the following settings:


Change the blending mode the duplicated layer to “Screen” and you will have the following effect:


Make a duplicate of this duplicate layer, and change the layer blending mode to “color burn”. You will have the following effect:


Step 7

Now the upper portion of the image seems a bit empty and we can add a bit of cloud texture to it. So download a copy of this cloud brushset and simply create a new layer and paint some cloud over it:


Hint: to create a light source on the cloud, simply paint over the same position a few times. (In this case, it’s top right corner)

Step 8

To finalise the image, add two new adjustment layers as shown below:

Colour Balance







And you will have the following effect:


Ok that’s it for this tutorial! You can of course add some of your own texture or filter effect and see what the end results are!

Here is my final image for this tutorial: (I slightly adjusted the colour balance and ) – Click to enlarge:


Black and White version:


Hope you enjoy this tutorial, drop me a comment if you have any question, I will try my best to help you out.

Cheers and have a nice day!


  • My name is James and I have been using Photoshop since version 5.0 (long time ago!). PSD Vault is my spare time hobby and I write majority of the Photoshop tutorials and articles here. I hope you enjoy my blog, and feel free to leave a comment or contact me if you have any questions.

  • Show Comments

  • Wilson

    Hi. I totally love all your cool and awesome abstract tutorials. Keep up the good work! (:

  • Wilson

    Hi, sorry for double comment. Is it able for you to teach how you got the end result after the deep orange result? It’s awesome.

  • admin

    Hi Wilson: Thanks for your comment and support! I can give you a hint: try add a new layer with blending mode of “color”, use a soft brush to gently paint over desired area with colour of your choice :)

  • photoshop masking

    Extremely informative tutorial, well researched and clearly presented. I am thankful to you, took the time to share this informative post.

    image masking

  • psaddict

    Nice work!

    Added to

  • Wow, your article was so easy to understand and professional. I am new to Photoshop so I appreciated how clearly you described each step. Thank you!!

  • ricardoFx

    wow @james nice effects buddy XD! really stunning tuto.

  • i like the style of this. It has a nice overall look and is fun. The bright lighting makes it look quite modern.

  • good one

  • admin

    @everyone: thank you very much for your comment and support!

  • Darman

    hey man thankyou for these tuts! i was graphic guy back in the day with macromedia fireworks 8! when i got back in the game with this new photoshop cs3 i was blown away. your tuts have helped me go from website templates to beautiful dewsktop backrounds posters and backround images for websites! please keep them coming i learn somthing new from this site every time i visit it (on a daily basis)

  • Excellent tutorial! The techniques are fairly simple, and your work is very detailed. Love the final artwork, very stylish and cool! The black and white version looks like something you’ll see straight out of a graphic novel. Fantastic!

  • VAIBhav

    i just want to say PSDVALT is BesT

  • Rebecca

    How do you put vector masks on your layers? It’s probably a stupid question, but I don’t know how to do it. Lol.

  • Pamela

    I wish you had a video on this because I do everything you say and does not look anything like that. How are you suppose to add the city? Place, Import, etc?

  • photo retouching

    a really stunning result! Your website is in my bookmarks

  • marcello

    i’m a big fan of your artest but there is something that i don’t know how to do it which is the black and white i don’t know how to reach it in my Photoshop CS

  • Maikel

    Great tutorial, many thanks!

  • Diaz

    Fantastic artwork, thanx 4 d tutor…

  • k’ma

    i love ur tutorial….
    it’s helps me a lot…

  • La

    this is not popart…

  • Ha Nguyen

    Look awesome! Thank you for sharing your technique!

  • Philip

    the tutorial was too good, but in the final i am not able to give the colour balance to the whole poster, can you tell me why s it like that.

  • dinesh

    nice work!. Hope to learn more awesome tutorial……

  • Ivy

    hi.. just now i try do it but i am confuse how do it… pls teach me.. help me…. thanks

  • Well explained article, very useful and easy to understand. Thanks for sharing this amazing technique.

  • Great Outcome! Love the tutorial, keep up the good work.


  • Free Fonts & Photoshop Tutorials

    This is absolutely amazing! The Vault never fails!

  • GraphicPusher

    Hey, nice tutorial!
    I like the way the colors mix together.
    Published it on my website with a link to this tutorial.
    If you wan I’d be glad if you posted any future work there aswell to get more views! :)

  • GraphicPusher

    Srry for dubble post.
    Posted wrong link on my name… :S

  • BeeClock

    It didn’t work for me…

  • MEEA

    kinda lame… No offense but you’re directions aren’t so good. You don’t explain what to do with all the layers we have to make… I assumed we were to merge them? You should probably be as specific as possible if you’re trying to explain things to people… Didn’t work out to well for me =[ yours looks awesome tho

  • James Qu

    @MEEA: yes we do flatten the image in the end. No problem for pointing things out, and if you could be more specific with which step you’re experiencing difficulty, I can be more of help.

  • Ricarfoto

    que bueno… impresionaaante… que buen manejo de las herramientas.. saludos.

  • Jayk

    This is completely awesome and really really cool.

  • Awesome! Very intense :p

  • mating

    absolutely amazing,thx

  • this web site very help in photoshop project .important notes

  • KiD ShOp

    Very helpful tut, good techniques n such. Keep up the good work!

  • Great tutorial thanks

  • Very Nice Work..

  • doso

    whoever thinks this is pop art has never remotely looked into any type of art history ever.

  • Rorigohxd

    does it work with any kind of picture?

  • @Rorgohxd: may or may not. You can certainly give it a try and see the result yourself :)

  • Ocean Human

    thank u so much.
    there are very useful and effective

  • Glennbragazza

    im working on cs4 and im new to this but i followed every step to the letter, and found that the final piece was not near the same as yours, obviously theres individual differences but what i mean is the steps you told me to do didnt have the same outcomes as each of the ones you have shown, such as the ones that everybody should have the same and wouldnt be effecte by individual differences, i mean the ones where you do a specific filter, the outcome you show is completely different to what i get :/ as a matter of fact step 1 is practically impossible to go wrong on but my outcome there looks nothing like yours :/

    what can you suggest??
    its a great looking piece of work you’ve done though :)

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