Photoshop Tutorial: Part 1 – How to Design and Create a VIntage Letterpress Poster

Hi. This is Marty from Blue Lightning TV.
I’m going to to show you how to create the look of a classic letterpress poster. Letterpress
printing is known for its subtleties of texture and color. I created this one based on a poster
produced by Hatch Show Print company. This tutorial is is two parts. In Part 1, we’ll
create our background and transform a photo into three overlapping images. In Part 2,
we’ll add text, a few graphics and a stained texture to age our poster. I provided a Photoshop
file, so you can follow along. It’s located in my video’s description or project files.
It includes this stained paper texture, a letterpress ink texture and a plain white
background. Double-click the bottom layer to open its Layer Style window. Click “Inner
Glow”. The Blend Mode is Normal, the Opacity is 100% the Technique it “Precise” and the
Source is “Center”. The “Choke” is 100% and the Size is 70 pixels. Click the color box
and pick a color you’d like for your background. Since I already know the color I want, I’ll
ust type it in the hexadecimal field: FFDB00. Once you pick your color, press Enter or Return
twice to close both windows. Make the texture layer visible and active. Change its Blend
Mode to “Screen”. Click the Adjustment layer icon and click “Levels”. We want the
adjustment layer to effect just the one layer beneath it. To do this, either click the clipping
mask icon or press Ctrl + Alt + G on Windows or Cmd + Option + G on a Mac. Make the Input
Midtones: point five zero and the Input Highlights: 154. Open a photo of someone or something
that you’d like to use for this poster. It can be color or black and white. The first
step will be to convert it into a Smart Object, so we can modify it non-destructively, as
well as allow the filters that we’ll be adding to it fully editable. Click the icon at the
upper, right of the Layers panel and click “Convert to Smart Object”. We need to separate
the subject from its background by making a selection around the subject. There are
many ways to make the selection and your choice should depend on the characteristics of your
photo. For this example, I’ll use the Quick Selection Tool. If you’re using this tool
as well, make its radius between 5 to 10 pixels depending on its resolution. Drag the tool
over your subject to select it. If you need to remove areas of the selection, press and
hold Alt or Option as you drag over those areas. After your subject is fully selected,
click the Layer Mask icon to make a layer mask of the selection next to your subject.
To place it onto your poster, press “v” to open your Move Tool and drag it onto the tab
of your poster. Without releasing your computer mouse or pen, drag it down onto your image
and release. To resize and reposition it, open your Transform Tool by pressing Ctrl
or Cmd + T. When you see this message, it’s just telling us that the Smart Filters will
be temporarily turned off while we use the Transform Tool. Just click OK. To resize it,
go to a corner and when you see a diaganol, double-arrow, press and hold Shift as you
drag the corner in or out. Leave room for any text that you want to add later. Then,
press Enter or Return. Change its Blend Mode to “Multiply”. Your foreground and background
colors need to be black and white, respectively. If they’re not, press “D” on your keyboard.
Go to Filter and Filter Gallery. Open the “Sketch” folder and click “Halftone Pattern”.
Make the Pattern Type: “Dot”, the Size: 2 and the Contrast: 3. Then, click OK. If you
want to brighten your subject, click the Adjustment Layer icon and click “Levels”. As you did
earlier, clip it to the layer beneath it. I’ll make the Input Highlights: 218, but feel
free to brighten it to your liking. Shift-click on your subject to make IT active, as well,
and press Ctrl or Cmd + J to make a copy of both layers. Press and hold “Shift” as you
drag the copy to the left. Make your top subject active. Click the Adjustment Layer icon and
click “Solid Color”. Pick a color you like for your overlapping subject and click OK.
Change the Blend Mode to “Screen”. Click the top layer and Shift-click on your subject
copy to make all three layers active. Make a copy of them by pressing Ctrl of Cmd + J.
Press and hold Shift as you drag the second copy to the right. Next, we’ll reveal your
middle subject through one of your other subjects on either side and then offset that subject,
which is common in mass-produced, letterpress printing. Scroll to the bottom subject and
Ctrl-click or Cmd-click on its layer mask to make a selection of its shape. This is
your subject in the middle. Scroll to the top subject, which your subject on the right
and make it active. Press Alt or Option + Delete to fill the layer mask with the active
selection. Doing this masks out this area of your right subject, which in turn reveals
your middle subject. Deselect it by pressing Ctrl or Cmd + D. To offset the right subject,
press the Right arrow on your keyboard once and then the Up arrow once. To consolodate
space in our Layers panel, lets place all of our subject layers into its own folder.
To do this, scroll to the top and make the top adjustment layer active. Scroll to your
bottom subject and Shift-click on it to make all of the layers that comprise your subject
active. Press Ctrl or Cmd + G to place them into a folder. Name it the name of your subject
and change its Blend Mode to “Multiply”. Go to the texture layer and press and and hold
Alt or Option as you drag a copy of it above the folder. Clip it to the folder by pressing
Ctrl + Alt + G on Windows or Cmd + Option + G on a Mac. There will be areas of your
subject in which the texture is appearing white, so to remove those white areas, press
“z” to open your Zoom Tool and drag over your middle subject to zoom into a section. Open
your Move Tool and drag the texture to move it until you don’t see anymore white on your
subjects. To make the texture more subtle, open your Levels window by pressing Ctrl or
Cmd + L. Drag the Output white level to approximately 100 and click OK. To fit it back onto your
canvas, press Ctrl or Cmd + 0. In Part 2, we’ll add text and some graphics and age it
with stains and creases. This is Marty from Blue Lightning TV. Thanks for watching!


  1. Eric February 1, 2016 at 2:14 am

    like. .thank dude

  2. Multiscan0001 February 1, 2016 at 2:59 am

    I just love this tutorial. Awesome. Thank you.

  3. Minecraft Savvy February 1, 2016 at 3:08 am

    My Photoshop knowledge has increased tenfold since I found your Channel, thanks for what you do!

  4. Lester Gajita February 1, 2016 at 4:17 am

    Thanks man for sharing your knowledge. You are an awesome guy! God bless you more

  5. Vengo Regis February 1, 2016 at 5:10 am

    Great Brother Thank you so much

  6. christufeq February 1, 2016 at 9:20 am

    I always want to go sleep, after watching those tutorials… But i absolitely love them <3
    Your voice is nice…

  7. Hylandr February 1, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    best tutorials on yt, thank you man, i have the confidence to say to my future employer i can photoshop XD i just need internet connection hhaha !!

  8. Viktor Banán February 1, 2016 at 10:40 pm

    Hi Marty. At first, please soory for my poor english. I have one question for you. How to remove details in objest for better perspective? I mean the same object at different distances without blur. Thank you very much for your answer and wish you a nice day

  9. TecmoBO34 February 2, 2016 at 3:18 am

    I have done almost every one of your amazing tutorials and they're all great. This is the first time I hit a snag while trying it. At 4:26 when you transformed the image, I noticed the top "stained paper" layer disappears. When I transform my image it does not do that. It transforms, but the top stained paper layer remains at the top. I can't see in the video why the top "stained paper" disappears after you transformed the subject photo. Did you combine the two files together? Thanks again Marty

  10. Remo Fiore February 2, 2016 at 10:29 am

    Hi Marty, Awesome Top Class tutorial as always, I've seen pretty much all of your Tuts and learnt a lot of PS tricks.My knowledge is 100% more since I've been watching your tuts.
    Thanks so much for taking the time to share your expertise and putting me back in the running for some cool design work.
    Best wishes to the best.

  11. Ivria Honi February 2, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    such good tutorial. keep posting!

  12. Phyllis ArtToArt February 5, 2016 at 12:28 pm

    Great as always – I've learnt so much from you – but hey – where's the link for the $7.99 monthly Photoshop plus lightroom?

  13. ALL GRAPHIC February 5, 2016 at 4:57 pm

    if you make banner poster flayer templet business card logo all professional this we will be grateful to you.your tuts is only unique tuts

  14. David-William Martel February 6, 2016 at 5:20 am


  15. Di Naylor February 8, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge! x

  16. Jungle Jink February 12, 2016 at 12:20 am

    Great stuff mate. Thank you.

  17. Switch On February 13, 2016 at 2:54 pm


  18. PAUL SCH February 14, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    Martin, at 6.45 you are talking about reveal the middle subject. Ok, I do understand the word reveal, but I do not see ny change of the richt subject going the back so to speak. In my case the red arm is still in the face of the middle subject. How to resolve this? Awainting your answer, thanks in advace. Paul

  19. José Martínez February 14, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    I like your job, Thank you!

  20. ingraeb February 15, 2016 at 9:38 pm

    Ask and you shall receive!!! Thanks Marty!!!

  21. PAUL SCH February 22, 2016 at 3:12 pm

    Martin, please give me the solution on my previous question of one week ago. Thanks, Martin. Paul

  22. Geoffrey Davis February 22, 2016 at 10:04 pm

    On CS2, the Smart Object has be rasterized. How do you get around this? Because later you get to the part where you chose the color of the item and the whole layer gets blacked out. Any ideas.

  23. PAUL SCH February 23, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    Martin, at 6.45 minutes of your tut, you are talking about reveal the middle subject. Ok, I do understand the word reveal, but I do not know how to do that. I still see the left red arm of the right Elvis through the face of Elvis in the middle. So, the point 'reveal' is bordering me by not knowing how and what to reveal. I have tried many ways, but I still can not solve the problem. Again Martin, thanks in advance for your support. Regards, Paul

  24. PAUL SCH February 28, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    Dear Marty, still have no answer from you unfortunaly. Have a nice day. Regards, Paul

  25. PAUL SCH February 29, 2016 at 11:08 am

    Of course, I do understand you receive dozens of mails. Herewith my question again.
    Martin, at 6.45 minutes of your tut, you are talking about reveal the middle subject. Ok, I do understand the word reveal, but I do not know how to do that. I still see the left red arm of the right Elvis through the face of Elvis in the middle. So, the point 'reveal' is bordering me by not knowing how and what to reveal. I have tried many ways, but I still can not solve the problem. Again Martin, thanks in advance for your support. Regards, Paul
    Thanks in advance. Paul

  26. Filippos Dizen March 6, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    Nice tutorial. Though I still have a problem with separating the over lapping shadows, the subject is great.

  27. Naman kapoor May 5, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    can anyone answer this
    why did he convert the elvis pic into a smart object and not just make a selection around it and move it to the target document??

  28. Raider May 12, 2016 at 9:30 pm

    PSD link is broken?

  29. Vikrant Banerjee June 1, 2016 at 5:59 am

    The zip archive for the PSD is corrupted. Any other links please?

  30. Carlos Henrique June 16, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    Learning a lot! Thank you!!

  31. mellisa lucky September 4, 2016 at 10:25 am

    helped me alot in learning more tools in photoshop and other things 🙂 thank you so much 🙂

  32. Aurialis Alvarez April 25, 2017 at 11:20 pm

    I'm soooo grateful to have found you. Thank you so much.

  33. Justin Harvey June 10, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    your psd file is not working. But i love the video

  34. Zixin Xu August 9, 2017 at 6:53 am

    I tried but I can't do the last part, after clicking Alt+Delete, it just filled the selection red but not black. Can anyone help me?

  35. Trastorna Mathias September 26, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    you have a new subscriber!

  36. yazicilar October 9, 2017 at 7:02 pm


    when i double click the layer at the start, i only have small box with few options. Is there another way?

  37. Jacob Walker December 4, 2017 at 2:51 am

    wow, super cool. thanks for sharing!

  38. K Newborn January 22, 2018 at 7:22 am

    I really like the DADA poster. Do you have tutorial somewhere for that?

  39. Mel February 16, 2018 at 3:23 pm

    Fantastic tutorial, both part one and two! Thank you so much! I have subscribed 🙂

  40. flicker; April 30, 2018 at 3:57 am

    ahhhhhhhhhh, thank you so much !

  41. nomad_fer July 11, 2018 at 3:30 am

    Thank you so much for this!!

  42. Enggal Pamukty October 24, 2018 at 5:04 am

    thanks, cool video

  43. Ivan Zapana December 17, 2018 at 11:03 pm

    this is what is call real TUTORIAL, you speak clearly, slowly, perfect. Thank you for your teaching 👍

  44. Seba LS March 30, 2019 at 9:41 pm

    Hermano gracias me ayudaste mucho

  45. laura isabel November 21, 2019 at 9:30 pm

    thank you!

  46. everelusivekudos December 19, 2019 at 6:23 pm

    Thank you so much! This has been the best Photoshop tutorial because everything is explained clearly and in a pace which can be followed easily. I learned not only the technique but some tools along the way.

  47. Jun Boy January 14, 2020 at 2:47 am

    What photoshop do you use

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