tEchNiQuE TuEsdaY: Urban Art Influence – Part 2 High Contrast Images

After delving into the world of Urban and Street Art a little more, I realized how much it’s influences have made a mark in the modern fine art world. Many of the characteristics of Urban and Street Art come from the Pop Art Movement…high contrast images, stenciled designs, bright and bold colors and the use of every day, cultural and political images and icons.

This week’s technique is going to focus on high contrast images. A high contrast image takes the light and dark values of to the extremes; i.e., the darks become darker and the lights become lighter. Almost any photo can be turned into a high contrast image in one of two ways: (1) with image-editing software like Photoshop, or (2) with a copy machine. To keep things simple, I’m going to focus on black and white high contrast images because they are the easiest to integrate into your layouts and artwork.

In the layout above, I started with a color photo of a brick wall. After turning it into a high contrast image (see below), I printed the image on a piece of transparency and layered it with collaged patterned papers and a piece of the spray painted transparencies from last week’s technique!

1. Select a color photo.
2. Change photo to black and white. (see below)
3. Adjust contrast to desired effect.

1. Change photo from color to black and white. Go to Image>Adjustments>Channel Mixer. Click on “monochrome” box in lower left corner; click OK.
2. Adjust contrast. Go to Image>Adjustment>Brightness/Contrast. Move slider to the right until desired effect is achieved. You may want to adjust the brightness to the right to lighten the overall image.

Copy Machine:
1. Change photo from color to black and white. Copy color photo on color copier using black and white mode.
2. Adjust contrast. Find contrast button (or ask a copy technician for help!); increase contrast and print a test copy. You may need to adjust the brightness to maintain clarity.

Here’s a few more samples of high contrast images…the possibilities are endless!!!

Tips & Suggestions:
- select photos that already have well-defined dark and light areas
- remember the rule of three’s: try at least three different levels of contrast
- adjust the brightness as necessary to maintain clarity and make the image pop!
- print high contrast image on colored paper or cardstock for a “duotone” image
- print high contrast image on transparency and layer over collaged patterned papers

Here’s a few more Urban & Street Art Sites that have large image galleries, informative tutorials or a number of links:
new pop art international
stencil international
visual resistance

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3 Responses to tEchNiQuE TuEsdaY: Urban Art Influence – Part 2 High Contrast Images

  1. glo says:

    wow, your work is amazing! thanks for sharing the tips!!

  2. Tracy says:

    another cool technique! thanks!

  3. Dream Elevator says:

    The concept of contast is excellent.