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Got A Few Bucks? Create Art With Dollar Bills

By Chris Stout-Hazard

Artwork from currency

Artwork from currency

Want a quick way to create some fun, patriotic art for your home? Our abstract currency images look great and are easy to make. Here's what you will need:

  • A one dollar bill or similar currency
  • A scanner, camera with macro lens, or even a good smartphone
  • A computer with an image editing program like Photoshop
  • An inkjet printer with photo paper
  • A picture frame with pre-cut mat

Step by step artwork

Artwork from currency
  1. Use your scanner or camera to take a photo of George Washington on the one dollar bill (or Lincoln, Jackson, etc.).
  2. Open the photo in your image editor (Photoshop works best).
  3. Select the area of the bill you would like to enlarge using the marquee tool, and crop to your selection by selecting Image → Crop. Your image should now resemble Figure A.
  4. Enlarge the image to the dimensions of your picture frame's mat. You will be happiest with the printed image if you resize at 300 DPI. To do this, select Image → Image Size..., then enter the Document Size in inches and 300 for the Resolution. After resizing, your image may look blurry, but the next steps will address this.
  5. Convert your photo into a black-and-white image by selecting Image → Adjustments → Desaturate.
  6. Boost the contrast, brightening the whites and darkening the blacks, by selecting Image → Adjustments → Auto Levels. Your image should now resemble Figure B.
  7. Set your primary and secondary colors to the default black and white by pressing the D key on your keyboard.
  8. Convert your photo into defined line art by selecting Filter → Sketch → Stamp... The default settings - Light/Dark Balance set to 25 and Smoothness set to 5 - should work but feel free to adjust these as needed. After clicking OK, your image should now resemble Figure C.
  9. If you are happy with the black-and-white illustration, stop here and print out your image. If you would like to add color, continue on.
  10. Duplicate the current layer by selecting Layer → Duplicate Layer... and clicking OK.
  11. Add color by selecting Layer → Layer Style → Color Overlay... Click on the red box to select a color you like - I chose red and blue tones for a patriotic look. Note that this will work best with darker colors. After you've selected one, click OK.
  12. Change the Blend Mode to Screen, and click OK. Your image should now resemble Figure D.
  13. If you would like to reverse the image, so the lines are white and the background is your chosen color, select Image → Adjustments → Invert.
  14. Print out your illustration on photo paper, add it to your frame, and you're done!
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Chris Stout-Hazard
Chris Stout-Hazard · Founder · Roger + Chris · Sharon Springs, NY
Chris Stout-Hazard leads product design and development for Roger + Chris and co-stars with Roger in Roger That. MORE ABOUT Chris Stout-Hazard

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