Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin, Soviet pilot and cosmonaut, was the first human being to journey into outer space, when his Vostok spacecraft completed an orbit of the Earth on April 12, 1961. In this step-by-step Photoshop tutorial, I will show you how to create a striking vintage-style poster design inspired by Yuri’s journey into space. We will combine stock photos, textures and brushes with blend mode techniques and filters on our way to achive the final design. If you are ready to get started then let’s get to it!

Preview

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Step 1

Open up Adobe Photoshop and create a document with your desired poster dimensions. Remember to use a high DPI (between 150-300 dpi) and CMYK Color Mode if you are planning on sending your work to the press. For this tutorial, I created a document sized at 800x1200px, RGB Color at 72dpi for web use.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Step 2

To start, download and open the Capodimonte Deep Field, use Free Transform (Ctrl/Cmd + T) to rotate and resize image so that it fits within our canvas.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Add Hue/Saturation adjustment layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation) and lower Saturation to -60 and Lightness to -15, to drop down colors a bit.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Step 3

Open Astronaut photo in Photoshop, zoom in closely to the image and, with your Pen Tool (P), begin to trace around the astronaut, following its shape. We want to create a path that will allow us to clip out astronaut from background.

Once you have made your way around the astronaut, close your path to complete the outline. Control-click/right-click anywhere along your path to reveal a dropdown menu. From this menu choose Make Selection.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Copy and paste astrounaut in our canvas, scale it down and position using the image below as reference.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation and make following adjustments:

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Duplicate astrounaut layer (Cmd/Ctrl + J), apply Gaussian Blur filter with 1.4px Radius and lower the Opacity to 50%.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Step 4

Download the Earth image and then open it in Photoshop. With the Elliptical Marquee Tool (M), make a selection around earth, copy it (Cmd/Ctrl + C) and then paste it (Cmd/Ctrl + V) into our design, scale it down and place it behind astronaut.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Drop down earth colors a bit by lowering Saturation to -40 (Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation).

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Cmd/Ctrl + click on the thumbnail of earth layer to put a selection around it. Create a new layer and, on this new layer, fill the selection with black. Move the black circle towards the right, leaving just a portion of earth visible.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Apply the Gaussian Blur filter with Radius at 30px on the black circle layer. You can see that this technique gives our earth a nice shading effect, which in turn gives our work aspects of realism and accuracy.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

At the end lower the Opacity of black circle layer to 80%.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Step 5

We’re going to add a lens flare into our scene. Create a new layer, fill it with black (#000000), and then go to Filter > Render > Lens Flare. Change the Lens Type to Movie Prime and make sure the Brightness option is set to 100%.

Change the Blend Mode of the layer to Screen and position the lens flare so that it’s right at the edge of the earth and in the middle of the planet glow.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Step 6

Grab free sample from Vintage Clouds texture pack, import into our design, Desaturate (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + U), scale it down and change the Blend Mode to Screen.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Adjust Levels (Image > Adjustment > Levels) to blend clouds perfect into our scene.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Next, we are going to add The Red Rectangle Nebula; go ahead and download it and open it up in Photoshop.

Desaturate the image to remove its colors, import in our design, use Free Transform to resize it, and then position like on the image below.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Set the Blend Mode to Screen and apply Layer Mask (Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All). Set the Foreground Color to black (#000000). Choose the Gradient Tool (G), select the Foreground to Transparent preset in the Gradient Editor, and draw a few gradients to soften (and mask out) edges of the nebula.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Choose #640775 for Foreground Color, pick up Brush Tool (B), and with large soft brush dub one spot over nebula.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Change the Blend Mode to Multiply and apply Clipping Mask (Layer > Create Clipping Mask (Cmd/Ctrl + Alt + G)). Duplicate this layer (Cmd/Ctrl + J) and set Blend Mode for duplicated layer Soft Light.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Download and open Satellite image in Photoshop, extract from background using Pen Tool (P) and import in our design.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Open Layer Style by double clicking on layer, and add an Color Overlay effect.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Duplicate Satellite layer, give this layer Gaussian Blur with Radius set to 1.4px and set the Blend Mode to Soft Light and Opacity to 90%.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Step 7

Next, we are going to add a planet to our composition, which we’re going to make from a texture. Download the Rust Textures Pack, pick up the texture you like, I choosed Metal_V1_1109, then open it in Photoshop.

Draw a circular marquee using Elliptical Marquee Tool (hold down Shift to make a perfectly round circle) and copy into our composition.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Make it smaller using Free Transform Tool (Cmd/Ctrl + T),

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

create selection around (Cmd/Ctrl + click on layer thumbnail), go to Filter > Distort > Spherize and set the Amount to 100%. The distortion of the shape creates a three dimensional appearance to give the basic form of a planet.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Move the planet in the upper left corner, then begin adding some layer styles.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Create planet shadow using method explained in Step 4. Here’s what we have now.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Let’s brighten up the scene a bit. First, create a new layer. For your Foreground Color, choose a low-saturated pink color (#eebbfb). Use the Brush Tool (B) with a large, soft brush tip to create a spot,

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

apply the Gaussian Blur filter on this layer (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur) with Radius of 130px. Then just set the Opacity of this layer to 70% to soften and blend the effect into its background.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Create another new layer (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N), choose green color (#2cbe7e), and with Brush Tool and large soft brush dub one more spot but this time in the upper part of canvas.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Apply Gaussian Blur (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur) with Radius set to 150px and set Opacity of this layer to 50%.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Step 8

Press Cmd/Ctrl + A to Select All, then go to Edit > Copy Merged (Shift + Cmd/Ctrl + C) and paste the result into a new layer (name this layer “original”). Duplicate this layer (“original”) twice and set the Blend Mode for the duplicated layers to Multiply.

Select the layer just above the “original” and then apply Filter > Stylize > Find Edges. Lower this layer’s Opacity to 20% and change the Blend Mode to Overlay. Let’s take a look (the layer on top is hidden).

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Next, click on the other duplicated layer (which should be on top of the first duplicated layer). Go to Filter > Stylize > Glowing Edges and use the following settings:

  • Edge Width: 2
  • Edge Brightness: 8
  • Smoothness: 10

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Desaturate this layer by going to Image > Adjustments > Desaturate (Shift + Cmd/Ctrl + U).

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Invert the layer’s colors by pressing Cmd/Ctrl + I,

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

and finally set Opacity to 40%.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Go back to “original” layer and apply Noise filter (Filter > Noise) with Amount set to 20%, for Distribution choose Gaussian and make sure that Monochromatic is selected.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Change the Blend Mode to Soft Light.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Download and import film texture, resize it to fit canvas and set Blend Mode to Linear Light and Opacity to 25%.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Step 9

It’s time to add some text to our composition. You will need League Gothic and Deftone Stylus fonts, so in case you don’t have it already go ahead download it and install. Let’s start with first word “Journey”.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Set Blend Mode to Soft Light, then duplicate layer, and for duplicated layer change Blend Mode to Overlay.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Use this method for all blocks of text.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Step 10

This is the final step of tutorial. First let’s add an adjustment layer to give our entire composition the color theme we are going for. Go to Layer -> New Adjustment Layer -> Gradient Map to add an adjustment layer above all the other layers. Set a gradient going from #1c004b to #fa9900, then lower Opacity of adjustment layer to 40% to give our design a vintage feel.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

We will finish this tutorial by adding border to our design. Select all layers in the Layers Panel into a layer group (Cmd/Ctrl + G) and name this group “poster”. Go to Image > Canvas Size and expand canvas by 20px.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Download and open this Handmade Paper stock image. Extract the paper from its background by using the Magic Wand Tool (W) to select the white color in its background and then inverting the selection by choosing Select > Inverse (Shift + Cmd/Ctrl + I).

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Copy the paper and paste it into our design. Scale it to fit our canvas with Free Transform (Cmd/Ctrl + T). Move the paper layer below the “poster” layer group.

Using the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M), make a selection that is slightly smaller (15px) than the canvas.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

With the “poster” layer group selected, go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal Selection.

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

Select paper layer again, go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation and set Saturation to -13 and Lightness to +34 to bring down paper color a bit and we are done!

Make a Retro Space Themed Poster in Photoshop

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Nikola Lazarevic

Nikola is a Web Designer, Blogger, and M.Sc in Electronic Engineering from Nis, Serbia. Nikola is the founder of a small design blog called webexpedition18 that publishes graphic design and web development tutorials, articles about inspiration and posts on graphic design, web design and photography.

30 Comments

(+add yours)
  1. GORGEOUS work, and extremely well-done tutotial to boot. Thank you very much for this, the piece itself is excellent and better still is understanding the techniques behind achieving this look and feel.

  2. This is an amazing tutorial! I shall be experimenting with this for HOURS!!!

  3. Agreed! Excellent work Nikola!

  4. The end result is a work of art, and the tutorial itself is a work of art. Simply amazing. There are many wonderful techniques presented here, and I’ll be coming back to study them in detail. Thanks for being so generous in sharing your skills!

  5. Great tutorial, thanks for sharing…
    I would call Nikola “The Vintage Master” :)

    • Great tutorial and techniques well explained!
      Thanks for sharing…
      Bookmarked & Featured in Tutorials of the Week!!

  6. Onir

    Bravo Nikola! Pozdrav iz Bosne

  7. Mark Harmon

    Great tutorial. Had a lot of fun working with it. I used it to make a Star Wars-inspired piece starring Vader.

    • Mark Harmon

      The tutorial continues to be awesome. My wife commissioned a Mickey Mouse one.

  8. robert pasta

    great tutorial! thanx!!
    sure will experiment with this!

  9. G369

    Thank you for sharing this work!
    Cool result!

  10. Nice one sir.

  11. themothman

    Fantastic tutorial. Great to see your process and technique behind your artwork.
    This is vital in understanding the reason behind using particular blending modes, filters and colours to create realistic effects.

    For someone cutting their mustard in the design industry, your tutorials are really useful for helping me develop my skills.

    Keep up the good work guys!

  12. Thank You all for positive comments! I’m so glad you enjoyed this tutorial

  13. Excellent work! It’s nice to see how all element blend together in the end.

  14. Very Nice! Definitely has that old baseball card effect to it.

  15. Great tutorial…!!
    i really like article like this ..
    :)

  16. Thanks for the tutorial

    it’s great

  17. very nice and easy-to-follow tutorial.

    but when you choose CMYK color mode at the beginning, you can not do lens flare afterwards or i could not be able to do it.

    here is my result;

    http://copyismyright.blogspot.com/2011/08/planet-of-apes.html

  18. Hördur

    Great — Thanx!

  19. Beautiful work and great tutorial. You inspire me to make some posters!

  20. Great tutorial! I’m ready to make some space posters now. Thanks!

  21. Katja

    Fantastic work & so much fun to reproduce. Thanks!

  22. Dirk

    Great tutorial. So happy that all links to other images are still working. It made for a great invitation for my kids’ birthday party!

  23. Max

    This is a really cool tutorial, it helped me out a lot. I was wondering if it would be okay if I used a similar design on a t-shirt and sold the shirts?

  24. Karan

    Can U Plz Attach The PSD!! plz Plz Plz!!

  25. KEY

    Thank you so much for this incredible tutorial! This is the best one I have ever done!! Thanks!!!

  26. Cool, thanks for this tutorial. I just finished it. Took me 2.5 hours including downloads and research of new pictures as the astronaut is not free anymore, the sputnik neither, and the hand made paper link is not working anymore…
    Anyway, I enjoyed it a lot, liked the effect given to the whole comp. with the glowing edges mixed with opacity and doubled up. Thanks for sharing it to us!

  27. Anders Pedersen

    Simply amazing. I learned so much from doing this.

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