How to Design a Vintage Horror Movie Poster in Photoshop

In this tutorial I’ll be teaching you how to use basic tools and photo manipulation techniques to design a vintage looking horror movie poster similar to the classic Zombie film ‘Day of the Dead’ by George A. Romero.

Lets get started with some great movie poster inspiration from wellmedicated.com, you’ll find the links in the quick nav right below!

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Materials Needed:

 

Step 1: Setting Up The Document

Setting Up The Document

Open up Photoshop and make a new document. I’m not planning on printing my poster, so I’m just going to set up an A4 RGB Document at 72dpi.


 

Step 2: The Background

Original Day of the Dead movie poster

As I mentioned earlier, this tutorial is going to be based on recreating the original movie poster (with a few twists of course!) of ‘Day of the Dead’ by George A. Romero. You can put the techniques you learn in this tutorial to good use to recreate your favourite movie poster, or to create your own vintage poster design from scratch.

Creating the background

With the document now set-up, and something to work towards, it’s now time to get startd. Select the Paint Bucket Tool and fill your background with a light blue colour. Select the Rectangular Marquee Tool and select (about) the 1/3 of the document at the top of your poster. Create a New Layer and fill it with a dark blue/purple colour.

Creating the background

Grab the Rectangular Marquee Tool again, and select about 35/40% at the top of the blue/purple block we just created. Make a new layer, and fill it with pure black.

Creating the background

Each of your seperate colours should be on a different layer in the layers pallete, rename them to something suitable so you can find them easily later on in the tutorial – there’s nothing worse than a messy layers window!

Our different colours are very clean, to fix this we’re going to add a bit of gradient and noise. Create a New Layer on top of your blue background (name the layer ‘blue background highlights’) and select the Brush Tool, select a white soft brush. On the new layer, paint over some areas of the blue background as seen above.

Creating the background

Make another new layer above the one we just created. Change the colour of your brush to black, and repeat the process, this time painting shadowed areas onto our design rather than highlights.

Use the Eraser Tool to remove any unwanted areas of highlights and shadows – we don’t want it to be clean, we’re trying to produce a vintange, worn look. When erasing, experiment with different opacities and brush sizes.

Creating the background

We still want the blue from our background to show through, to do that we’re going to play with different Blending Modes. Change the highlights layer to Soft Light at 80%, and the shadows layer to Normal at 15%. With the highlights layer select, go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise. With ‘Uniform’ the only box checked, change the amount of Noise to 40% and hit OK.

Repeat the step with the shadows layer, try playing about with some different settings such as Monochromatic. I changed my amount of noise on my shadows layer to a whopping 400%.

Creating the background

Repeat the previous steps again using various settings and blending modes on the purple and black layers. I also added a small amount of noise to the background colours themselves.

Creating the background

I lowered the opacity of the blue shadowed layer even more because it was a little to strong for my liking. Download one or two of Light & Grungy Textures from Lost+Taken.

With a couple of the textures download, go to File > Place and locate your textures. Insert one into your document above all over layers and change the Blending Mode to Overlay. Repeat the step again, but try using a different Blending Mode – I used Colour Burn at 30%.

Creating the background

With the majority of the background completed, we just need to add a few layer effects to get it just how we want it. Go to Layer > New Layer Adjustment > Brightness/Contrast. Lower the Brightness to -20 and the Contrast to -40.

Step 3: Drawing The Circles

Drawing the circles

It’s time to start moving on to other areas of the poster. Grab the Ellipse Marquee Tool and whilst holding the shift key drag out a circle. Create a New Layer above all others and fill your circle with white. Duplicate the layer 3 times.

Make sure you’re circles are centre in the document, and position them like shown in the screenshot above.

Drawing the circles

Whilst holding Cmnd (Ctrl on Windows) click on the mini-thumbnail next to the black layer to select the layers content, now Ctrl+Click (Right Click on Windows) > Select Inverse. Click on the top circles layer (if you don’t know what one is what, rename the layers!) and hit the delete key. You should be left with something similar to above.

Drawing the circles

Repeat the step again on the middle circle, you should now have something like you see above.

Drawing the circles

With the circles now in place, it’s time to add some effects. Download this awesome free moon texture from Flickr and place it into your document.

Grab the Magic Wand Tool and set it’s Tolerance to 50. Select the black around the moon and hit delete to remove it. Place the moon over your top circle.

Drawing the circles

Using the same technique was used earlier, hold Cmnd (Ctrl on Windows) and click on the top circle layer. Select inverse, select the moon texture layer and hit delete. Merge the Moon Texture layer down to the top circle layer by going to pressing Cmnd+E (Ctrl+E on Windows).

Drawing the circles

Locate the second circles layer and go to Layer > Layer Styles > Blending Options. Select Gradient Overlay and change the style to radial, play about with the settings and change the colour to medium orange to dark orange until you get a result you like. To finish it off, duplicate the layer and remove the Gradient Overlay. Go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise, play about with the settings and hit OK. Change the Blending Mode to Overlay and lower the opacity to 15%.

Drawing the circles

The next circle is nice and easy. Select the Paint Bucket Tool, a washed-out yellow and fill the last circle.

Duplicate the layer, and change the bottom layer back to white using the paint bucket tool. Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set it 75px, hit OK and lower the opacity of the blurred layer to 50%.

Step 4: Manipulate the Bald Man

Manipulate the bald man

Download the free stock photo of a bald man. File > Place it in to your document. Once the image is in your document, Ctrl+Click (Right Click on Windows) on the layer and Rasterize it. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Threshold and play about with the slider until you have a result you want. You may need to do it twice and merge the two layers together.

Manipulate the bald man

Copy the bald man layer from Photoshop, open up Illustrator and paste it into a new document. We’re going to use the Live Trace Tool to soften up our image ready to use in our poster. Hit the Live Trace button at the top of the Illustrator window and copy and paste the man back into our poster document.

Manipulate the bald man

Position the mans head in to place and select the Eraser Tool with a soft brush. Use the eraser to delete some of the mans body as seen above.

Manipulate the bald man

Duplicate the layer several times, making each layer smaller as it goes along by using the Transform Tool (Cmnd+T or Ctrl+T on Windows). Reposition your layers so it looks something like above.

Manipulate the bald man

Lower the opacity of each layer as they get smaller. I used 100%, 75%, 50% and 25%. I also added 4% of noise to make it fit in with the rest of our design. I repositioned the layers once again, and merged them all together by selecting the 4 layers and hitting Cmnd+E (Ctrl+E on Windows).

Manipulate the bald man

Duplicate the Bald Man layer and go to Layer > Layer Styles > Gradient Overlay. Select a couple of (lets be honest) sickly green/yellow colours to match our sun. Lower the opacity of the new layer to about 20%.


 

Step 5: Typography Time!

Typography Time

It’s time to move on to some typography to turn our poster into a movie poster. Grab the Type Tool and type a line – I’m using ‘First there was the “Retro Gameboy Tutorial”‘. Repeat the step for the second line – I used: ‘then “Grunge Cement Texture Pack”‘. The words are taken from my first and second posts on Tutorial9.net incase you’re new here!

Arrange the text correctly so it sits how you want it – use different font sizes and kerning settings. I used Arial and Arial Bold for my text.

Typography Time

Using the same font, type a line of text above the sun at the bottom of the poster. I’m using: ‘and now yet another poster tutorial on the internet’. Change the font colour to black instead of white and position it to the centre of your poster.

With the Type Tool still selected, make a new text box and type your name as well as the name of your movie. I’m going to use: ‘callum o. chapman’s’ and ‘vintage movie poster tutorial’. Change the settings of your text until you have it all lined up to how you like it – I used the font Impact.

Typography Time

Ctrl+Click (Right Click on Windows) on all of your text layers and rasterize them. Merge them all together, and add some noise to them to make them a little more grungy.

Duplicate the rasterized text layer, nudge it to one side a little, and lower the opacity to 5%. It doesn’t make much difference, but all these little tricks add to the final effect.

Grab the Type Tool again and add some random text at the bottom of the poster. I used the font ‘Tall Films’.

Step 6: Finishing Touches…

Finishing Touches

It’s time for the finishing touches! Download this great folded/creased paper texture from Flickr Place the texture into your document by going to File > Place and position it as seen above.

Finishing Touches

Make a new Hue/Saturation layer and drop the saturation down so the texture is now black and white – select the layer and hit Cmnd+E (Ctrl+E on Windows) to merge the layer below. Change the blending mode to overlay. I duplicated the layer and changed the new layers opacity to 50% to give it a little more ‘oomph!’.

Finishing Touches

Find your movie name text layer, and with the Rectangular Marquee Tool selected, copy the bottom word (in my case I have copied ‘tutorial’). Make a new layer and paste your copied word. Position it beneath your original word as seen above.

Finishing Touches

With the new layer still selected, go to Edit > Transform > Flip Vertical, your text should now be flipped directly beneath your original type.

Go to Edit > Transform > Perspective and using your mouse, drag out a corner. Once you’re happy with the result, set the layers blending mode to Overlay. I also changed the movie information text to black because it was quite difficult to read in white.

Finishing Touches

For the final touch, we’re just going to play about with some colour settings. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Colour Balance. Play about with some different colour settings until you have what you like.

Open the Actions window by going to Window > Actions. Somewhere in the list of actions, you should have one called Sepia Toning (layer) – click on it and press the Start (play button) beneath it. Your poster should now be in black and white. Merge the two new layers together (the black and white layer and the sepia toning layer) by pressing Cmnd+E (Ctrl+E on Windows). Lower the opacity of the layer to 40%. This should wash out some of the colours and make your poster look that little more vintage.

Finishing Touches

Crop your poster down, and save! You might have noticed that it says this tutorial was for tutorial9.net – I decided to post it here and sell T9 some other posts, instead! If you like this post, please don’t forget to promote it!

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