Photoshop & Illustrator tutorial: Create retro poster art

How to blend retro imagery and colour schemes with digital technology

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In this tutorial, Gordon Reid -- who works under the creative handle Middle Boop -- shows how he blended retro imagery and colour schemes with digital technology to create a stunning cover image for Digital Arts Magazine.

He walks you step-by-step through the process of preparing stock images for compositing, lighting, colouring and texturing the design – as well as providing a few sneaky keyboard shortcuts to speed things up.

The stock images that Reid has used are all available from iStock. You can buy them from bit.ly/4V2JvR, bit.ly/7rdMRZ, and bit.ly/4P2kj9 -- or if you prefer, you can substitute similar images of your own.

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Step 1 To start off, download the images mentioned in the introduction, or find suitable ones of your own. Then cut out the images – there are many ways of doing this but the cleanest and most efficient by far is the Pen tool (P). Once they’re cut out, add a more aged effect by holding down Shift + Cmd/Ctrl + U and desaturating the images.

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Step 2 Now let’s merge the two images of the women together giving the impression that one is presenting the computer. Hit Cmd/Ctrl + L to match the levels of the images, go to Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast, adjust these, and add a warming photo filter with a density of around 15% (Image > Adjustments > Photo Filter).

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Step 3 Let’s take the aged effect further by adding a slight texture to the three images. In the computer layer, go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise, set the amount to anywhere between 6 and 8 for the computer and set the distribution to Gaussian. Do the same process for both of the other layers but use the filter a lot more lightly.

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Step 4 Now that we have the focal point to work from, it’s time to work out some vibrant colours to make the design really eye-catching. I want to use colours that emphasise the old-school feel but can also be combined to look contemporary. Put a cream coloured layer such as #fdf9d1 over the top of the image and set the blending mode to Multiply, then play about with colour swatches to find some great colour combinations.

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