One of the many features that Photoshop avails to its users is that of posterization. As a feature, it allows the graphic designer to specify and adjust based on discretion the brightness value for an image.

It’s useful for reducing the number of colours available in a photo without tampering with the original image’s looks. It’s commonly used for outstanding visual effects in photography and designs.

Key takeaways

  • There are 3 simple steps to follow to get the best-posterized picture – apply the “Poster edges” feature on your image, then proceed to the “Cutout” feature and lastly reduce the “Opacity” of the image up to 40%.
  • Remember to duplicate your image after the first 2 steps.

Step by Step instructions on how to posterize in Photoshop

To know the vital role of this feature, here is a step-by-step explanation of how to posterize your image or design.

An image in photoshop

Step 1: Select your image

In this step-by-step illustration on how to posterize in Photoshop, the image used above is downloaded from a free channel. In your case, your image can be one you have saved or designed as you wish.

A duplicated image in photoshop

Step 2: Duplicate the image

The next step is to duplicate the image from the initial background layer to the new layer 1. To achieve that, press Ctrl + J or right click on the background. A drop box pops up with various options, scroll down, and select Duplicate. Once you do that, the initial background layer’s image becomes the same on the new layer.

Selecting the option of "Filter gallery" from the "filter" options

Step 3: Filter your image

For the next step, scroll and click on the duplicated layer. After clicking, proceed to the topmost part of the screen where you have the menu bar; once there, click on Filter, and then scroll down the drop-down box available to click on Filter gallery.

A dialogue box of Poster edges

Step 4: The Filter Gallery

Once you click on the Filter gallery, you have access to all filters as shown on the right-hand side of the screen in the illustration above, and on the left-hand side is your image giving you a preview of what each filter does to the picture. You can try out any one of your choices by clicking on each to decide which is best.

On the settings of the filter, you can also make changes based on your discretion. For instance, for this step-by-step illustration, the choices made are simple. Proceed to Poster edges and click on it. By doing that, a dialogue box comes up with options; for this illustration, the graphic designer chose certain values in each area. Edge thickness -2; Edge intensity – 0; and Posterization – 2.

The image after adding the filter

Step 4: Filter results

After selecting your desired values in the filter box, click on at the top part of the dialogue box. The changes and adjustments made immediately affect Layer 1 of the canvas image, as seen in the illustration above.

Selecting the option of "filter gallery" from the drop-down menu of filter

Step 5: Duplicating the new Layer 1

The next step is duplicating the newly filtered Layer 1 as done in the initial place with the background. To reproduce, press Ctrl + J or proceed to the Layer side of the screen, and right-click on the Layer 1. In the dialogue box that opens up, search Duplicate, and click on it. From that, a new layer comes up, creating Layer 1 copy.

After duplicating the layer, proceed to the top part of the screen to click on Filters. On the drop-down box, click Filter gallery.

The dialogue box for "cutout"

Step 6: Cutout process

Once again, as done before, the filter options appear on the screen with various choices for you to make. On the left-hand side of the screen is your image ready to change with filters, and on the right side is your dialogue box for filter selections and changes.

Unlike in the previously carried out step, instead of choosing Poster edges, here, proceed to click on Cutout. Once you do that, the dialogue box opens for you to make your desired changes. For this illustration, the areas and values are Numbers of levels – 7; Edge simplicity – 1; and Edge Fidelity. After making all the necessary adjustments and previewing the image and being satisfied with it all, proceed to the dialogue box’s top part to click Ok.

The image after applying the cutout feature

Step 7: Cutout result

The illustration above shows the final result of the filter works and values changed on the duplicated Layer 1 copy.

The image after applying the cutout feature

Step 8: Reduce the Opacity

Once you are satisfied with your work, the next step is to reduce the image’s opacity as the final touch. For this step-by-step illustration, the opacity level decreased to 40%. To change the opacity level, proceed to the right side of the screen at the Layer point; right there, you’ll find the Opacity button; proceed to change it to your desired percentage.

A posterized image

Step 9: A Posterized image on Photoshop

After changing the opacity and confirming all the changes done, you have your image posterized and ready to use at any time.


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As a rich feature useful for creating special effects on an image, posterization opens the graphic designer up to another area of image distortion and editing with a beautiful touch to it. With the above step-by-step explanation, posterizing your image from now on for that unique look becomes an easy job.