Design a Grunge Vintage Poster in Photoshop

Design a Grunge Vintage Poster in Photoshop

In this Photoshop tutorial I’m going to explain how to easily create a vintage poster design. We will use some useful techniques related to patterns and visual organization with Photoshop guides. Also we will play with a texture to give an old look to the composition and will deal with adjustment layers for final touches.


Preview of the final result


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For Mac users:
  • Ctrl = cmd
  • Alt = Option
Step 1

Create a new A4 document in Photoshop.

new document in Photoshop

Step 2

Grab the Paint Bucket tool (G), set a light-desaturated yellow (#f4e0a9) as foreground color, and fill the background layer.

fill the background

Step 3

Download this image of a frozen landscape and paste it into the Photoshop canvas (File>Open and select the image).

frozen landscape

Step 4

At this point we have to create the spots that will be used later to mask some areas of the landscape. Instead of creating a first spot and then duplicate it again and again (so boring!) we will create a pattern.

Before starting with the pattern, we need to make order using Photoshop guides. Place 4 guides at the same distance – 200 px – from each side of the canvas. Then drag other 4 guides, this time with a distance of 100 px from the edges. These guides will be useful when we will define the area covered by the pattern. Also by creating order you can focus the attention on the most important areas of the composition and easily create symmetrical artworks.

How to create guides? You can create a guide by clicking and dragging from the ruler. If you want to hide guides go to View>Show>Guides.

create a guide

place a guide

Step 5

Create a new 150×150 pixels document in Photoshop with a transparent background. Grab the Ellipse tool and create a circle. Place it in the center of the canvas. Now go to Edit>Define pattern and save the new pattern.

How to create perfect circles with the Ellipse tool? Simply hold down Shift while drawing the circle

How to align something with the center of the canvas? Press ctrl+A to select the entire canvas. Then use the align tool (in the option bar – on top) to align the object.

create the pattern

Step 6

Switch to the main Photoshop canvas. Here create a new layer, grab the Rectangular Marquee tool and select the center area or the canvas. You can notice I created another guide at 2500 pixels height.

make a selection

Step 7

Go to Edit>Fill and select the pattern just created:

fill using pattern

Step 8

With the Rectangular Marquee Tool select the incomplete spots and press delete to eliminate them. Finally Align the spots with canvas:

eliminate incomplete sposts

Step 9

Now we will use layer masks to filter the landscape through the spots. Ctrl+click on the layer thumbnail of the spots to select its pixels. Then hide the visibility of spots’ layer:

make a selection of the sposts

Step 10

Select the layer of the frozen landscape from the layers window, and press the “add layer mask button” at the bottom of the window. This is what you should obtain:

Note: Do you are a newbie who never used masks before? Check out our tutorial for Photoshop beginners on how to use layer masks.

landscape spots

Step 11

With the mask layer of the landscape still selected, grab the marquee tool and select 5×5 spots in the center (to create a square). Fill the selection with black in order to eliminate it, and press ctrl+D to deselect

make a selection

fill the selection with black

Step 12

Create a circle inside the empty space in the center (guides can help you to be precise)

make a circle

Step 13

As we made with the small circles, repeat the same process with this larger one. Ctrl+click on its layer thumbnail (always in the layers window) to select its pixels, and hide its layer visibility:

make a selection

Step 14

Select the mask of the landscape layer (not the layer, but the mask. Make attention), and fill the selection with white (#FFFFFF). In this way you will reveal the landscape area which is below the circle:

fill the selection with white

Step 15

With the mask still selected, grab a grunge brush and, with black as foreground color, paint over the spots:

add grunge effect

Step 16

The image of the landscape looks too much realistic and flat. Select it and press ctrl+U to open the Hue/Saturation window. Here check “colorize” and enter the following settings:


Step 17

Let’s add some type. I’ve used 3 font: Helvetica for the 3, Musa for WeGraphics and Ballpark for “best design resources”. To give a grunge look to the text too, grab the eraser tool and use a grunge brush to erase a little bit the edges.


Step 18

At this point we need a texture to add the old style to our composition. I’ve used the page of an old book, wrinkled it, and scanned at 300 dpi.

Premium members will find the texture into the source file.

old paper texture

Step 19

Open the texture in Photoshop and drag it into the main canvas. Here set the layer blending mode to multiply with opacity 40%.

old texture multiply

Step 20

With the guides visible, make a selection of the borders, create a new layer and fill the selection with brown (#682e01):

fill the edges

Step 21

Switch the layer blending mode to color burn and reduce opacity to 20%. Also use grunge brushes (reduce a lot brushes size) to give a grunge look to the borders too:

borders to color burn

Step 22

It’s time for the last color corrections: go to Layer>New adjustment layer>Hue/Saturation and reduce saturation to -60

reduce saturation

Step 23

Add a second adjustment layer, but this time select “gradient map”. Set a gradient going from brown (#642100) to yellow (#f9e600). Switch the layer to overlay with opacity 50%. We’ve finished!

gradient map layer

And here is the final result!

final result


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Howdy! I'm a self taught graphic designer who loves to create amazing stuff using every kind of media. I'm currently living and working in Italy.


(+add yours)
  1. Great tutorial. Thanks!

  2. Martinho

    Hello Sebastiano. I enjoyed your tut and congratulations for your site.
    Very well designed.
    Like it a lot.

  3. West5thStreet

    All of your tutorials are great!

  4. you are creative man…thanks for sharing……

  5. xetoya

    Excellent tutorial, thank you!

  6. Tomas Laurinavicius

    Thank you for tutorial Sebastiano! Few modern and useful techniques covered.

  7. W illiam

    I just rocked this tut. It was fantastic. Had a bit of trouble with Steps 12-14, but once I figured those out, the rest went like a breeze. Thanks for creating this.

  8. nate

    Thanks for the tutorials, Im still having problems with Step 12 – 14 . I couldn’t understand why I could not get layer mask to work for big circle in middle to get the center image. what am i doing wrong?

  9. Awesome tutorial ! It was a bit difficult to center to big circle but I managed to work things out. Here is what I came up with ! What do you think ?

  10. George

    Hi Sebastiano. Great tutorial! Im stuck on step twelve though. I have created the black circle but when i click on its layer thumbnail it does not give me the option to “select pixels” it just has options to “disable, rasterize vector mask …..”. Please help me all knowing Sebastiano!!

  11. Drake

    omg dis iz gunna b da basis 2 my nxt music video, da follow up single for you only live once thats da motto NIGGGA yolo

    • Nicki Minaj

      yo drAKE das wussup , y’all now all deez stupid hoooezz

  12. Just finished it. Took me about 45mn… had some trouble with the centre circle… but made it through anyway.
    Nice tut, I learnt the pattern creation and some trick with it, thanks!

  13. tanja

    oh thank you very much i was in one period of making logos and now i’m like new in this all over again so i saw your tutorial and it really have sence. thank you once again. Tanja

  14. reb

    hi I am enjoying the tutorial very much but am having problems being able to reveal the landscape through the large circle have tried several time but cant seam to get it to reveal land, have followed all steps what am I doing wrong, I have created the large circle selected its pixels, hid so not visable go to masked layer of landscape but hash ffffff does nothing to convert back please help !!!

  15. Greet tutorial! Grunge vintage style design tutorial for our new intern. Create guide, dot pattern and texture all in short period of time.

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