How to Create a Simple and Amazing Poster in Photoshop
This tutorial covers how to make a poster using Adobe Photoshop. You can use it even in a crunch because the steps are pretty simple, especially when you consider how amazing the finished product looks. Watch the poster unfold in this tutorial, and you’ll probably learn a few new Photoshop tricks in the process.
Watch our video or follow the steps below to create your own poster.
Begin by downloading a layout guide from PrintPlace.com found on the poster product page. We’ll be using the 11 x 17 poster layout guide.
When you unzip the folder, you will notice a variety of files to choose from. You can choose either landscape or portrait. You can also use front and back layouts for a double-sided poster.
In this tutorial we will be designing a one-sided portrait poster layout. Choose the 11 x 17 front portrait layout jpeg and hover it over the Photoshop icon to open it.
With the layout guide open, you’ll notice red, blue, and green lines bordering the layout.
The red line represents bleed. Bleed is artwork such as background colors or images that extend farther than the trim edge of a print document.
The blue line represents trim. Trim is the final size of your poster after it has been cut. By extending your design past the trim line all the way to the bleed line, you’ll ensure there are no unprinted edges.
The green line represents the Caution Line. Anything such as text, logos, or important parts of a photo should not extend past this line.
Next, go to “Image” then “Mode” and make sure “CMYK” is checked. This will ensure color accuracy in the final print.
Now is an excellent time to save your PSD. Make sure you save periodically along the way.
Before we start designing it is good to set up guides within Photoshop so you can see them at all times once your layout guide is covered up. First go to “View” and check “Rulers.” This will give you some visual reference. Now set your guides. Go to “View” then “New Guide.” You will need to enter a new guide for every vertical and horizontal colored line. The measurements for the guides are:
- Vertical: .375, .5, .625, 11.375, 11.5, 11.625
- Horizontal: .375, .5, .625, 17.375, 17.5, 17.625
You’re now ready to begin designing. Begin by layering in your photo. Make sure the image is large enough to extend all the way past the bleed line of the document. Then right click on the image and click “Rasterize.” Now duplicate your layer by selecting it and clicking “Command J.” Select the copied layer and go to “Image,” “Adjustments,” and click “Desaturate.”
For now, turn off the black and white layer and click on the color layer.
Using the Quick Selection Tool, begin to select the parts of your image you wish to keep in color on the final piece. In our example, we selected the water and bridge. This will do a fairly good job for grabbing what you need. However, you may need to use the lasso tool to refine some edges. (If you select an area you didn’t mean to, simply hold down Alt or Option and remove the selected area.)
After selecting all the areas you want to show up in color, turn the black and white layer back on and select it in the layer's palette. Now go to “Select” and “Inverse.” This changes your selection to everything but the water and bridge.
Now click the square button below the layers, to create a mask. The mask reveals the color layer beneath.
Before we start on the text, create a new layer. Now choose your gradient tool and select the second preset then change the color to a blue that matches your poster.
Back on the layer, click and drag the gradient tool along the bottom portion of the poster. This creates a solid area for the text background.
Now let’s work on our text. Pick your font and type your headline. Then change your fill to 0%. Your text will disappear, but don’t worry. We’ll fix that in a moment.
Right click on the layer and choose “Blending Options.”
Now click “Drop Shadow.” Here choose “Linear Burn” and set the opacity to 12%. Set the distance to 15 and size to 16.
Next click “Bevel and Emboss” and choose “Inner Bevel.” Set the depth to 103% and click “Up” for the direction. Set the size to 13px. Under “Gloss Contour” choose the downward “U” shape. Change the highlight mode to “Linear Dodge” and set it to 30% opacity. Set the shadow mode to “Linear Burn” and set the opacity very low, between 1-3%. Now click “OK.”
You’ll notice the water effect beginning to show, however, we’ll have to add a few more effects to really make it pop.
Duplicate the text layer using “Command J.” Now right click and choose “Clear Layer Style.” Again set the fill to 0%. Right click on the layer and choose “Blending Options.”
For this layer, choose “Inner Shadow.” Set the blend mode to “Linear Burn” and the opacity to 25%. Set the distance and size to 15.
Now choose “Inner Glow.” Set the opacity to 75% and size to 15.
Lastly, choose “Bevel and Emboss” and set the depth between 100 and 110% and set the size to 13. Under “Gloss Contour” choose the upwards “U” shape. For highlight mode choose “Color Dodge” and set the opacity very low to around 4%. For shadow mode choose “Linear Burn” and 10% for the opacity. Now click “OK.”
One more time, duplicate the text layer, select “Clear Layer Style,” and set the fill to 0%.
Under “Blending Options,” click “Drop Shadow,” uncheck “Use Global Light,” and set the angle to 0 degrees. Set the distance to 6 and the size to 9.
Next choose “Inner Shadow.” For “Blend Mode” choose “Linear Dodge” and set the opacity to 25%. Set the distance to 10 and the size to 2. Set the contour to “Rounded Steps.”
Next choose “Bevel and Emboss.” Set the size to 46. Under “Shading,” uncheck “Global Light” and set the angle to 0 degrees.
For “Highlight Mode,” choose “Linear Dodge” and set the opacity to 18%. Under “Shadow Mode,” click “Linear Burn” and 8% for the opacity.
Lastly, click “Stroke” and set the size to 6. Then click “OK.”
Simply add the rest of your text, and you have a stunning poster ready to print.
That last step before printing is exporting a PDF. Go to “File,” “Save As,” and choose “Photoshop PDF.” Then under “Adobe PDF Settings” choose “PDF/X-1a:2001.” Then click “Save PDF.” This is the file you will submit to PrintPlace.com for printing.
For more detailed steps, you can watch the video tutorial at the top of this post as well.