Creating a Digital Stamp Portrait From a Photo

Make a digital stamp from a photo

The Spruce / Kate Pullen

Project Overview
  • Total Time: 15 mins
  • Yield: 1 digital stamp
  • Skill Level: Intermediate

If you are looking for a totally unique digital stamp to add to your next crafting project, how about making a portrait digital stamp from a photo. There are many reasons why you might want to create a digital stamp portrait from a photo. Here are few:

  • A digital stamp is black and white. Therefore it is cheaper to print than a full-color photo. This makes a digital stamp a perfect option if you are creating multiple versions of a card or invitation.
  • You can color the digital stamp using marker pens, pencils, or paints. Go to town with colors and experiment. You'll be able to create effects ranging from pop art to realistic.
  • The black-and-white digital image can be used to create a rubber stamp. This is a great option if you wish to stamp the same image over and over again without printing it. It is also ideal for teachers who may want to personalize their comments to students with a stamped image.
  • You can offer a custom digital stamp service as a gift for friends and family or even sell them.

Two Methods to Make a Digital Stamp

To make a digital stamp portrait from a photo, you can use one of two methods: one using Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, and the other using the free software alternative, called GIMP. If you're interested in creating this effect but don't have a copy of Photoshop, go to GIMP is a free and open-source image editor that is generally considered to be the best free alternative to Photoshop.

This fun technique in the tutorial below gives a photo a rubber stamp effect using Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. We may be using an older version of Photoshop, but you should be able to follow along without too much difficulty using most versions. This tutorial basically makes use of just a single tool to create the effect, and that is the Threshold adjustment or filter.

Assuming you've got your copy of Photoshop or Photoshop Elements open, let's get started by grabbing and opening the photo you want to work with.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements


  • Digital photo


  1. Open Your Photo

    1. Go to the drop-down File menu and click to on Open and then you can navigate to wherever your photo is saved.
    2. Double-clicking on the photo file will open it in Photoshop.
    Select and open image file
    The Spruce / Kate Pullen
  2. Open the Threshold Filter

    1. Next, we'll keep your image open and select the Threshold filter.
    2. If you're using Photoshop Elements, go to the Filter menu and then from the Adjustments sub-menu, select Threshold.
    3. In Photoshop, go to the Image menu and select Threshold from the Adjustments submenu.
    4. If you prefer using Adjustment Layers, you could also use the Threshold tool this way as the technique is just the same.
    5. With the Threshold tool open, you should see your photo turn to black and white. 

    How the Threshold Filter Works

    It helps to have insight to how the Threshold filter works. If you imagine a scale of 0-100, with zero being pure black and 100 being pure white, all the pixels in the image are turned black or white depending on how light or dark they are. When the Threshold tool is first opened, all pixels with a lightness value of 50 or less are converted to black, and all the others are converted to white.

    Opening the threshold filter in Photoshop
    The Spruce / Kate Pullen
  3. How to Adjust the Threshold Filter

    The Threshold tool is simple to use because it really only has the one control: the slider below the histogram.

    1. Just drag the slider control to the left or right and see how it affects the photo.
    2. If you drag to the left, the overall the photo will get lighter because there are more pixels to the right of the slider and all pixels to the right are turned white.
    3. Moving the slider to the right has the opposite effect, with more black pixels being added to the image.
    4. For our sample photo, we've moved the slider just a little to the right. It's barely noticeable in the accompanying image by looking at the slider, but if you look at the Threshold Level box, the value has increased from 128 to 132.
    5. Depending on your photo, you may have to make a more dramatic change in either direction. It really can vary quite widely from photo to photo.

    When you're happy with the result, just press the OK button to apply the change. You can now use your image as your personalized digital stamp or print it out for multiple uses.

    What's a Historgram?

    The histogram is a graph-like representation of how dark and light pixels are distributed throughout the photo.

    Adjusting the Threshold Filter in Photoshop
    The Spruce / Kate Pullen