Create a retro grunge typographic poster in Photoshop

Retro and Grunge are quickly becoming a new trend. These type of designs are becoming more and more popular in a variety of design contexts like corporate designs, portfolios, poster work and nowadays, even blogs use both styles on a small and large scale. When applying “old-style” elements to their works, designers produce creative and appealing designs that make their websites stand out and look really different. If these type of retro look are executed carefully, the results are stunning and will catch the eye of the viewer instantly. It sends out a very strong message when typography is placed within these styles. These retro typographic elements create a nostalgic atmosphere around us, awakening our inner feelings and memories.

After so many days of inspirational article writing, I have come up with another of my typographic tutorials. I was searching for some inspiration in deviant art and behance when i stumbled upon a rather, good looking typographic art. I immediately sat down to create that and I added  a lot of tweaks of my own to get the result. This is one of my best tutorials to date and I am quite happy with the result. I enjoyed doing this poster and learnt a lot of stuff in the process. I hope you guys will love it too and please provide suggestions and opinions about this tutorial :)

Step 1:

Open Photoshop and create a new document with size 700 x 1000px. If you want to print this out, then I suggest you create a huge document with 300 dpi.

Step 2:

Using the Rounded Rectangular tool, and option set to ‘PATHS’ and ‘ADD TO SELECTION’, Create two rectangular paths as shown below:

Step 3:

Press CTRL + T to select the ‘Transformation Tool’ and Click on the ‘WARP’ button on the Toolbar above(towards the right; close to ‘Tick’ button) – Refer this tutorial on a beginners guide to Transformation Tool

Step 4:

Now, Let us twist and warp this shape and make it look like an Ink Bottle. Follow the steps in the image. You can create any kind of shape which resembles a bottle/can. Its up to you.

Step 5:

Once you have warped it to the perfect shape you need, Press Enter to confirm the path. Now follow the 3 steps:

  • Click on Brush Tool(B) and select a round brush of 2px radius and 100% hardness.
  • Create a New layer and Click on Pen Tool(P) and Right Click on the path and select ‘Stroke Path’
  • Select the Brush as the option and uncheck ‘Simulate Pressure’

Step 6:

Until now, we just created a reference shape for the type tool we will be creating now. Download an awesome Calligraphic Font from Dafont:

Step 7:

Using the Type Tool(T), start typing words of wisdom on the neck of the bottle. Use different font sizes for different lines and Use the path we created before for reference.

Step 8 :

Now do the same, for the bottom part as well. But here, click on the outer area and start giving empty spaces until you reach the path. Then, start typing out letters. Then, Click Enter, again type spaces until you reach the path and start typing out letters. Use the image below for reference:

Step 9:

Use different font sizes and complete the whole ink bottle. Refer the image below for what the image must look like after completing this step:

Step 10:

Now, comes the flow lines. Using the Pen Tool(T) and the option – ‘RUBBER BAND‘ Selected (This will show how the path might appear even before you add an anchor point. This is an excellent way to learn the Pen Tool)

Step 11:

Now, create some paths which resemble the flow of lines. Use the image below for reference. You can pretty much create what you want. Just let the Pen Tool do the talking :)

Step 12:

Now, Click on the Brush Tool and use a 2px hard brush and set the color to anything you want, it doesn’t matter(of, course not white). Create a new layer and name it ‘FLOW’. Now, come back to Pen Tool and Right click on the path and click on ‘Stroke Path’ with ‘Simulate Pressure’ unchecked.

Step 13:

Repeat the above 2 steps to create more such flow lines. You can use your imagination here but make sure the lines are not close to each other. We need to add text in between later.

I have shown the screenshots of what I did, You can pretty much do the same.

P.S. If you are a beginner in Pen Tool, Copy and Paste the below images onto the document and Set the opacity to around 50% and trace my paths

Step 14:

Now, let us create the floral text effect. This is an awesome trick to achieve simple but brilliant results. Select the Pen Tool and create another path. The trick here is to make it look as if the words are coming out at the end of the flow lines.

Step 15:

Now, let the Pen Tool be active. Click on the Text Tool and bring the cursor close to the path until the cursor changes its orientation.

Step 16:

Now, Once you get that cursor blinking on the path, just type some words until the path gets over.

Step 17:

To make it look even better, try changing the size of the font gradually and make sure it starts from a bigger size and ends with a smaller one.

Step 18:

Go on creating new paths and adding new text layers by following the above two steps. Follow my images for reference:

Step 19:

Now, Select all the Text Layers and Group them into one single layer and name it ‘Words’ and merge this layer, so that it becomes rasterized into huge image. Now, double click this layer and apply ‘Inner Shadow’ and ‘Color Overlay’ effects.

Step 20:

Now comes the heart of the tutorial. Download these awesome grunge textures from Deviant art and paste the first two textures onto your document below the ‘Flow’ layer and Set the Blending mode of the first texture to ‘MULTIPLY’ and decrease the opacity of the other texture to around 60 – 70%. The output will look somewhat similar to this:

Step 21:

Create another layer above all the others and using a soft, rounded brush tool, apply brush strokes along the flow lines. Use different colors for a vibrant output:

Step 22:

Now, change the blending mode of the layer to ‘Lighter Color‘ and reduce the opacity as desired. 80-90% appeared quite satisfactory for me.

Step 23:

If there is some extra brush stokes which did not blend into the text, you can easily erase using a soft eraser :

Step 24:

Let us apply a subtle color gradient to the bottle. Using a Lasso Tool and the feather set to around 20px, create a selection around the bottle as shown below:

Step 25:

Create a new Layer and using the Gradient Tool(G), and the gradient set to a ‘VIBGYOR’ type(the one with the 7 primary colors) apply a gradient as shown below:

Step 26:

Set the blending mode of this layer to ‘Soft Light‘. This type of blending mode is suitable whenever you want to get the vintage/grungy look and also for a retro futuristic look. Adjust the opacity as desired.

Step 27:

Using the Elliptical Tool and the color set to ‘WHITE’ draw an ellipse just at the beginning to the bottle. Try visualising a bottle cap, for instance.

Step 28:

Rasterize the layer and Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and apply with the following settings.

Step 29:

We are almost at the end of the tutorial. Now, for added realism, you can use a brush tool with a radius of 1px or 2px, join the flow lines and letters. use the image below for reference. This step is optional and you need to tweak a lot to get the effect right.

Step 30:

Now the output must look something like this:

Step 31:

To give it a even more vintage look, add a Photo Filter from the layers palette.

Well, thats all folks. We successfully created an awesome looking retro grunge typographic poster. I just added a little of my own tweaks. I typed in some individual letters of different sizes and applied Guassian Blur with different depth to create a ‘Depth of field’ Effect.

If you liked the Tutorial, why don’t you subscribe for the RSS Feed or you can follow me on twitter : @richbugger

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66 Responses to “Create a retro grunge typographic poster in Photoshop”
  1. DesignLovr says:

    This is another amazing Tutorial from you Richie!
    Great work, I really loved the attention you paid to the details.

  2. WOW this is awesome!

    Detailed as usual :) simple awesome outcome!

    I just love it!

  3. Cool.. love the final outcome. Very well explained

  4. excellent design of typography poster and you also sharing Photoshop techniques, i would like to share with others too.

  5. Lam Nguyen says:

    Wow, awesome! I saw your artwork on DeviantArt. If you post a tutorial like this, you cannot sell that one on DeviantArt :D hahaha Cool, friend!

    • Richie says:

      Haha…. well, I just select the licence. I don’t look into the commercial issues and stuff. Besides, its free to download :) So, I don’t think people will buy….

      Thanks for the compliments, Lam :D

  6. Mihai O. says:

    Great tutorial :) Keep on doing a great job!
    .-= Mihai O.´s last blog ..The Success Of Your Business On The Web =-.

  7. Richie says:

    Thanks Mihai…. I’m looking forward for some great posts from Area1 as well.. Cool name :)

  8. Ben says:

    excellent tut rich – your designs are very creative – Like it alot
    .-= Ben´s last blog ..Some Small Changes – Digital Art Empire Update =-.

  9. Nina says:

    Very helpful and wonderful tutorial, thanks for posting :D
    .-= Nina´s last blog ..65 Of The Best WordPress Tutorials =-.

  10. favSHARE says:

    This article has been shared on Go and vote it!
    .-= favSHARE´s last blog ..7 free grunge fonts that rock =-.

  11. That is fantastic! Looks like dried flowers made from type!
    .-= Douglas Bonneville´s last blog ..How to try fonts online =-.

  12. jeprie says:

    nice, just using simple technique but the end result is awesome.
    .-= jeprie´s last blog ..Tutorial Typographic Art di PSDRockstar =-.

  13. jene says:

    Fabulous tutorial, thank you.

  14. Ayaz Malik says:

    Good Job man loved it !!
    .-= Ayaz Malik´s last blog ..Creative and Humorous Food Photography =-.

  15. Phixin says:

    muy bueno,,,
    sencillo y al grano

  16. Hi richie,
    I happened to go through your blog from Design Instruct, and i was really impressed the tuts you have put up on your blog, it is really wonderful i loved the detailed outcome. i will be looking fwd to follow up your blog regularly.

    P.S: where do i find you in facebook ?

  17. FErkhi Bilal says:

    Nice Tutorial Thx

  18. sandesh says:

    Another great tutorial. Great work rich .I will include it in my list.

  19. ^Angel^ says:

    Hi there! Really nice job, I’ve got only some troubles with the writing on the pen tool. It happens that the begin and the end of the writing line is too close :-S I’m still a beginner, do you know where I get the mistake?!

    • Richie says:


      What exactly do you mean when you say, you have troubles writing on the pen tool? I would recommend you to draw bigger shapes so that the end points aren’t close enough to each other.

      Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any problems with that.

  20. SOWMYA V says:

    Amazing work!! loved it d whole lot!!

  21. Diane says:

    Hi Richie,
    I can’t see the pictures in the retro poster tutorial.

  22. danielle says:

    hey this is a very neat typograhphy i just used it thanks for the help on my class project!!!! APPRIECIATE IT VERY MUCH

  23. very amazing retro design. good job!

  24. It comes together so well at the end – a fantastic tutorial, will be trying this one.

  25. Vishnu says:

    jst a word…..awesome……!!….

  26. Christian says:

    I did not understand step 5
    please explain

    • Richie says:

      After you’ve created your paths and the final image, pressing enter will confirm the path. Then you can right click(you must have the pen tool selected for this) and select simulate pressure so that it a brush of predefined strength will be applied over the path. I hope that helped.. let me know if you have any troubles

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