Creating a Spectrum Poster Design in Photoshop

Creating a Spectrum Poster Design in Photoshop

In this tutorial, new WeGraphics contributor, Jonathan Wong walks you through how to create a Spectrum Poster design using Adobe Photoshop. So pull up a chair and join in as Jonathan takes us on a trip through his creative process.


Step 1

Create a new document and make it whatever size you please. Select the fill tool from the toolbar and make the foreground a grey color. Fill the background layer with the grey color. This gives the background a softer feel and won’t be as harsh on the eyes as a white foreground, especially when it’s going to be mixed with large popping colors.

Step 2

Create a new layer. Select the gradient tool from the toolbar. Pick the colorful preset as shown. Also make sure you choose the angle gradient from the gradient settings at the top of the screen. It is important to the effect.

Step 3

Drag and make the gradient in the new layer as shown. The longer you drag the gradient line, the more subtle the gradient is between the colors. You are going to want a somewhat even dispersion but you can mess around yourself.

Step 4

Once the gradient is made, select the circular marquee tool from the tool bar. Now on the same layer as the gradient, hold shift and make a circular marquee over a spot of color that you would like to make a shape from. Right click and select layer via cut. This will cut the shape from the gradient and produce a new layer with the circular color. You can proceed to do this as many times as you like, cutting circles of varying sizes from the gradient layer.

Step 5

You should now be left with something like the image seen above, depending on how many circles you cropped out. Now it is up to you on how you want to style and position the piece. Move the circle layers around and create a composition that you like. It can be with as many amount of circles as you want. Note that it helps to have circles that vary in scale. It gives the piece a much better dynamic.

Step 6

Now you can start adding some different circles and shapes to mix up the composition and the elements. So, select the marquee tool and make another circle. You can choose from using the fill tool or gradient tool this time and begin by making new colored shapes. In my example, I mixed it up from you using the gradient tool and using some fill colors like white. Once the circles are made, select the rectangular marquee tool. Make a rectangular shape that dissects the circle on your chosen layer. Hit backspace/delete and then press cmd+d to deselect the marquee. Proceed then to rotate the circle and hitting the shortcut cmd+t. Repeat this process a few times over to create some unique shapes.

Step 7

Another cool shape I like to make is a circular stroke bar. Now like most things in Photoshop, there are countless ways to produce elements with the same outcome. How I generally make these is very straight forward. Make a new layer and select the circular marquee tool once again, hold shift and drag out to make a proportional circle. Then right click on the marquee and select stroke. A popup box will appear. Make the stroke as thick or thin as you want by altering the pixel size on the stroke in the box. I chose a thick stroke for this at 20px and filled the color with white. Select okay. This stroke can then be cut and dissected, similar to the previous step.

Step 8

For this step, I wanted to add in some even smaller circles/dots to the composition. In every piece, the small details play just as important a role as the large elements. The details really bring the piece together in my opinion.

Select the brush tool and choose a brush with a hard edged with a low pixel size varying from 2px to 20 px. With brush selected, paint some circles varying in size around the composition. Don’t over do it on this stage. you want to create some dynamic but you don’t want it to end up looking like a cheap splash brush.

Step 9

Now to help bring the same shapes together, I’m gonna create some nice angular vectors to give the piece an extra dimension. Select the pen tool, with a white foreground and very simply draw some interesting shapes that bridge the circles on the composition. It make take a few tries to get a nice interesting shape that helps the composition. When the shape has been created, lower the opacity on the shape. This gives it a nice glassy, futuristic look. Repeat this step however many times you desire.

Step 10

Again to really bring the piece along, I added some more new shapes. This time with some simple lines and squares. To make a line, simply select the line tool from the toolbar. Make a new layer, and then drag the line on the canvas. You can vary its weight from the toolbar on the top of the screen as shown. And to make the square, it’s the same way as you would using the circles just instead of selecting the circular marquee, you select the rectangular marquee. This is achieved by clicking and holding the circular marquee and then dragging out to the  right. this brings up a selection of the different shapes you can select with the marquee tool.

Step 11

To bring the piece together, I used a little trick that I learned that works better than a colour balance in this instance. Create a new layer and similar to what you did in step 2, create a new angular gradient using the same multicolored gradient as before. Once created, set the blending mode on the layer to soft light. This casts a feint sheen of colour over the composition and gives it a nice finish.

Step 12

For the finishing touch, I added in some typography to give the piece a focal point and tie it all together. Select the type tool and click on the canvas, this will bring up a new layer. I named the piece spectrum and said the type in Helvetica bold. Once you are happy with the type,  you can dissect and chop it up by rasterizing the layer. To rasterize, simply go to layer, rasterize, type as shown. Once the layer is rasterized, you can cut the text up and alter it how you please, adding different gradients and such.


Related Posts

high quality vectors

2500+ premium design resources for only $7!

We do the best to provide high-quality products that you can use in your commercial projects.
You bet!

take a tour

Jonathan Wong

My name is Jonathan Wong and I am 21 years of age. I am a graphic designer and illustrator born and raised in Limerick, Ireland. I have just finished a four year course studying Graphic Design in the Limerick School of Art and Design. Design has always been a big passion of mine, ever since I was young. My primary goal in life is to make a living doing what I love, and that is the hope with art and design.


(+add yours)
  1. This is a great example of how to create something amazing out of nothing! Loving it!

    • That’s a really good point Jorden. No external resources or elements were used to create the design. That’s a rare occurrence. I dig it.

    • Grace McAllen

      Absolutely agree, no need to download anything, it is easy to follow the explanation, really hand tut. It took almost no time to do it. Thaaanks!

  2. Wow! lovely effect…thanks for showing some cool photoshop tricks and of course for this tutorial.

  3. Very basic effects but the composition turned out very nicely. Thanks for sharing =D

  4. This Is Amazing
    Gonna Use It to make Me Some Signatures
    I Always Wanted a Funky One

  5. learner

    it was great! i am just a beginner so i had some difficulty with the last part…the rasterizing text part :( i cudnt separate the circles inside e and p so the gradient fills them up too…any help?…..the rest though was awesome!

  6. Miaoww

    Thanks a lot for this tutorial ! I love this kind of things, starting from nothing ! here’s my result
    thanks again :)

  7. Infamous_Guy

    Thanks for providing this tutorial.

    Really useful to help beginners out, including the professionals as well.

    Thanks once again.

  8. Armando Sanchez

    Very nice tutorial, I never would have messed with photoshop this way if I hadn’t found this tut.

    What I made. ^

  9. Anjan Roy

    Loved it . So simple ,so beautiful .

  10. frank

    AWESOME!!! Great tutorial.. Thanks :)

  11. awesome tutorial thanks i will try this soon

  12. uP

    here’s mine:

    thanks for the tut! :) keep it up

  13. Thank you for sharing this. I’ll try right now!

  14. HD

    Love this tutorial, it’s one of the few that I don’t have to download brushes/stock for. Thanks!

  15. Amazing! This is a great tutorial as I am now learning to create my own posters and charts for my class!

  16. Nice tute, nice to learn different ways of doing things. Here is my example, its my desktop for this month.

  17. Mars

    I tried this – I’m using GIMP, but often it’s easy enough to do Photoshop tutorials in there – and I kind of followed it to about step 3. Then it was like “ah, screw it, doing my own thing.”

    Anyway, I ended up with this.

  18. naing win

    Thanks for this useful and nice tutorials, i am now beginner in this field. so i need to learn a lot of tutorial about photoshop. so thanks a lot :)

  19. Nate

    hey i am new to photoshop and i need help! i got everything up until the last step :/ i dont get how to cut the text and get that cool coloring on it after it has been rasturized :/ someone please help me!!!!

  20. Awesome tutorial. Thanks for sharing.

  21. Symo

    Great skills and ideas at work, thanks for sharing the tutorial, it’s great!.

  22. sagh

    How do i create a Layer via copy on cs6 (Step 4)

  23. Natalie

    Like the comment above mine, I also can not copy a layer in photoshop cs6 as stated in step four, is there any other options? Or is there a way to trick photoshop into doing so?


  24. I loved this, as I’m making some posters for a website I run, and I needed to know these kind of tricks, like rasterizing typography so they can be treated as objects.

    – Sam

  25. This was really an enjoyable tut! Thanks a mill! But I gave up trying to get it exactly like yours and did some of my own stuff.
    Take a look…

    • maria

      hey..question..when doing the circles how did you move them around ??

  26. Their music had all of the standard ingredients for
    a New Wave of British Heavy Metal band. If you want to get cheap guitars to play there are
    many music stores you can purchase one at. When you first start
    to use this new online music making technique, like all other things you attempt for
    the first time, it will be difficult until you get the
    hang off it.

  27. Great Tutorial !

  28. this is looking amazing. I must try this out.

  29. jack


  30. Help full tutorials. I really like this. I am trying one too. The sample is very sexy and beautiful.

  31. Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon everyday.
    It will always be interesting to read articles from other authors and use
    a little something from their websites.

  32. Hi there, its fastidious paragraph concerning media print, we
    all be familiar with media is a wonderful source of facts.

  33. Wonderful site you have here but I was curious about if you knew
    of any user discussion forums that cover the same topics talked
    about here? I’d really love to be a part of community where
    I can get responses from other experienced individuals that share the same interest.
    If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Thanks a lot!

  34. It’s very trouble-free to find out any topic on web
    as compared to textbooks, as I found this article at this web page.

  35. Simply want to say your article is as surprising. The clearness in your post is just cool and i can assume you’re an expert on this subject.
    Fine with your permission allow me to grab your feed to keep updated with forthcoming
    post. Thanks a million and please keep up the enjoyable work.

  36. rajender

    sir its awesome,
    plss help to create like that gradient pointing at one point spectrum.

Leave your comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

© Copyright 2015 - All rights reserved. Design and code by WeGraphics Team