Lets get straight to work. Before opening Photoshop, or any other piece of digital software for that matter, grab a pen and a notebook. As followers of Circlebox will know, I turn to the notepad for almost any project of any form or size – it’s a great way to brainstorm and get some ideas down on paper without spending too much time on it …or staring at a blank canvas in Photoshop, which can be quite daunting with so many tools at your disposal!
This is the kind of look I want to go for (excuse the drawing – I did say I don’t spend to much time on it!):
With some rough ideas in your head, head over to Photoshop. Open a new document, I’m not planning on printing mine so I’m just opening a simple screen document (72dpi RGB). If you’re planning on printing in large scales, you’ll probably want to set up bleeds, use a Resolution above 300dpi and use CMYK instead of RGB. I’ve used an A4 size document.
Before I start anything else, I’m going to use a nice paper texture to give myself something to start with. Download a nice simple texture, I’m using one of my Red & Yellow Dyed Paper Textures. Fill the background with a creamy colour (I used #F2EBD7), and place (File > Place) your texture on top. Resize and move your texture into a suitable place and then desaturate it. Change the blending mode of your texture layer to overlay.
Locate your hippy van (or any other object your planning on using) and place it in your document. Resize, rotate and move it into a place you’re happy with. Remember it can be moved later!
With our vector placed, duplicate the layer. Hide the bottom one and rasterize the top one. This way, incase there are any problems, you always have a duplicate layer to work on underneath.
Grab the Burn Tool, and on our rasterized van, add some custom shadows round the bottom of the van. Do the same to the paper texture and background colour directly beneath the van – don’t over do it though! You can reverse the effect of the Burn Tool with the Dodge Tool.
Already our hippy van is looking more involved with the background. Grab another texture, and place it on top of all other layers. I used one of my own Grunge Watercolour Textures. Hold Cmnd (or Ctrl on a PC) and click the thumbnail image of our Hippy Van in the layers palette. Select the inverse of the selection and hit delete to remove any texture outside the van.
Desaturate the new texture layer, change the blending mode to overlay and lower the opacity to about 50%.
Repeat the step we took before with the Burn Tool, but this time only burning some areas of the most recent texture.
Open up Illustrator and create 4 25×25px squares placed directly next to each other. Change each square to a different colour, something you think will match your poster.
Select all your squares and create a new Art Brush by clicking the New button in the Brushes palette. Name it a suitable name and make sure the Direction is either heading up or down.
Grab the Pen Tool and make an interesting line. With your line selected, select the Art Brush we just made. Repeat the process to make another pattern.
Select both objects, copy and paste them into your Photoshop document as a Smart Object. As they’re smart objects, it allows us to resize and stretch them without being distorted. Once your lines are in place, make sure you rasterize them to turn them into pixels.
Duplicate your straight line. Rotate one of them, and place it above the original, set it to Difference and lower the opacity to 25%.
Select the Elliptical Marquee Tool and draw a circle whilst holding the shift key. Fill it with the same colour you used on your outer line of the art brush. Place the circle below your other straight line and merge the two layers together. Set its Blending Mode to Colour Burn.
Duplicate the straight line once again but this time leaving it in place. Lower the Opacity to 50%. All this does is makes the colours a little more intense.
Select the curvy line layer. Using the Polygonal Lasso Tool, delete some areas of the end of the line. You might decide, like me, to move the line a little. Use a soft eraser to get rid of any areas you don’t want.
Repeat the process we took with the circle on the straight line to produce some ‘filler’ shapes. I call them this because they’re main purpose, other than looking cool, is to fill in some empty space. Try removing some areas inside the circles for an even cooler shape. You can of course use Illustrator to do this if you wish. You can also use gradients on circles, or a soft brush, to create lighter looking shapes.
Choose yet another texture and place it on top of the curvy line. Get the outline of the curvy line by Cmnd (or Ctrl) clicking on the layer thumbnail, select the inverse of the selection and delete. I’m using another Grunge Watercolor texture.
Set the blending mode of the new texture to Overlay and decrease the opacity to 50%. Merge it down to the curvy line layer. Duplicate the now combined layer. Move the bottom curvy line to somewhere else on the screen and set it to overlay. Now set the top curvy line to Linear Burn.
Make a new layer and fill it with a colour using a soft brush that goes with your design.
Go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise. Make sure Monochromatic is ticked and add some noise to your newly painted layer – I used 35%. Set the layer to Overlay, and with a soft brush, erase some areas of the noise. Lower the opacity to 50%.
Duplicate the hippy van, and on the lower layer go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur. Use settings that best suit your piece.
Once again grab the eraser tool, using a large soft brush, delete some areas you don’t need.
The post is getting there. Select a soft brush and open the Brush Panel. Select scattering, and change the scatter percentage, as well as the count. I used 1000% for scatter, 1 for count, and 60% for count jitter. Make sure your brush is white, and on a new layer brush over your canvas. Make a new layer and repeat the process a couple of times with different brush sizes.
Change the blending modes and opacities of your new layers. I used Overlay at 45% for one, and Soft Light at 65% for the other.
If you feel it’ll improve your work, you can repeat the process again using different shaped brushes at different sizes, different colours and different blending modes.
I want a little bit of text in my poster – I’m just going to use the words ‘Retro Van’. Select the text tool and type your words. Select a font that goes with your poster, I used ‘Steiner’. I used a mid-dark red colour from my poster that I selected using the eyedropper tool.
Duplicate your text layer, and resize the text on the bottom text layer so that it’s bigger than the original text. Select another colour thats been used in your design, I went for a lighter yellow this time. Reposition the text and select a different blending mode: I used overlay.
I repeated the previous step again using the same size text and a blue which I took from the hippy van.
Make a new layer, and using the polygonal lasso tool, make some custom shapes to make some ends of the letters come off the screen.
Time for some finishing touches. Make another new layer, and select a large soft brush. Select a colour from your design using the eyedropper tool and brush over some areas on your screen. Create another layer, and do the same again with a different colour. Repeat the process until you have something that looks like this:
Change the blending modes and opacities of each layer to something different. Make sure to experiment, as different blending modes on different layers will give you different effects. This is how mine turned out using a combination of overlays, hard lights, soft lights and vivid lights:
Make yet another new layer, and select a dark blue soft brush. Brush round the edges of your poster so you have something that looks like this:
Change the blending mode to Colour Burn and lower the opacity to about 7%.
Repeat the process with a smaller black brush, this time using the blending mode darken set to about 10%.
Enhance your image a little by increasing the contrast, and save! Here’s my final result:
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