Design a Grungy Minimalistic Poster in Photoshop

In this tutorial we will be making use of simple but very powerful Photoshop tools to create a grungy minimalistic poster, which is so good you might even consider contacting a poster printing company to get a bunch printed! We will be combining triangle shapes, textures and lots of blending modes to create what you see below. Let’s not waste any more time and get started!

Tutorial Outcome

This is what we will be designing – the full poster followed by two close-ups.

Step 1: Setting Up The Document

As with all tutorials, the first thing we need to do is open a new document. Open Photoshop and create a new document (File > New). I’m using a preset size ‘A6′ under ‘International Paper’. I’m using the RGB Color Mode as I don’t plan on printing the poster, however if you are planning on sending the file to press I recommend designing the poster in CMYK.

Step 2: Changing The Background Color

Select a light coffee color (I used #f1f0e4) and fill your background in using the Paint Bucket Tool.

Step 3: Creating Your First Triangle

Make a New Layer and call it ‘Big Triangle’. Pick the Polygon Tool. Change the amount of sides the tool has to three.

Select white as your foreground color and drag out a selection with the tool; it should make a perfect white triangle.

This should have create a new shape layer, right-click on it and select Rasterize Layer. This makes it easier to work with.

Step 4: Rescaling Your Triangle

To scale your triangle up and down, go to Edit > Free Transform or hit the shortcut combination Cmd+E. Whilst holding the shift-key, drag one of the outer corners to the center of the document to make it smaller, vice versa to make it bigger.

Make your triangle smaller, and place it somewhere in the middle of your design.

Step 5: Duplicating Your Triangle

Our poster design is going to be made up of triangles, and therefore we’re going to need a lot of them. The triangle we have just placed is going to be our biggest triangle, so we will only need to scale it down. Select your triangles layer and either go to Layer > Duplicate or drag the layer onto the New Layer icon in your Layers Palette (this also duplicates the later). You should now have two triangles – rename the second triangles layer to ‘T2′; all other triangle layers from now on will be called ‘T3′, ‘T4′ and so on.

Scale your new triangle down, making it overlay your big triangle as seen below.

Step 6: Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

We now need to create lots more triangles. Duplicate the layers, rescale your new triangle, and move its position. Keep at this until you are happy with your composition.

Keep adding…

Try to include some really small triangles to add depth to the final piece…

When you have a document full of triangles of all different sizes, it’s time to move on.

Step 7: Adding Color

It’s time to add some color. Choose a color scheme for your poster – I’m going for a scheme based on this image – in other words, a vintage-style blue. You can paste an image of your choice into Photoshop, select colors from it using the Eyedropper Tool and create a new custom swatch specifically for this poster. If you’re too lazy to do this, check out Color Lovers for some awesome pre-made swatches.

When you have a color scheme sorted, it’s time to start applying different colors to your triangles. The easiest way for you to do this is by selecting a color and clicking on a triangle whilst the Paint Bucket Tool is selected.

Repeat the step over and over until all of your triangles have some form of color. I’ve decided to add a little hint of bright pink in with the blues and greens to spice things up.

After what feels like hours worth of coloring triangles I have finally finished. This is what I ended up with…

Step 7: Playing With Blending Modes

To add much more interest to our design we’re going to make the triangles interact with each other by changing the Blending Modes of each one. Select a triangle (what one you select doesn’t matter) and experiment with the different modes. You can also change the Opacity of some triangles if they’re too vivid.

My pink triangle, for example, is set to Linear Burn.

Carry on applying different Blending Modes to your triangles.

Our poster is beginning to look pretty abstract, yet still fall under the minimalism style because of the very limited amount of shapes.

Step 8: Adding 2-3 More Triangles

Reselect the Polygon Tool and drag out 2 to 3 more triangles on your canvas – make sure they’re all on new layers. Color the triangles with colors that we have already used in our poster.

Right-click on the three new layers and click on Rasterize Layer. Change the Blending Mode of all three layers – use what works best with your poster. From top to bottom, I used: Color Burn with 30% Opacity, Hard Light with 5% Opacity and Normal at 20% Opacity.

Step 9: Blurring

Our poster is quite sharp, so we’re going to add some blur. Put all of our layers (apart from our background layer) into a folder named ‘Triangles’. Duplicate the whole folder by dragging it onto the new layer icon in the layers palette. Select all of the contents within our original folder, right-click and click Merge Layers. With the new combined layer selected, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and enter a radius of 20px – hit OK.

Lower the opacity of the blurred layer to 5%. This’ll make the poster a little more dreamy than what it previously was.

Step 10: Applying A Photo Filter

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Photo Filter. Select a Warming Filter (85) with a density of 30%.

Step 11: Adding Some More Color

Make a new layer and fill it with white, go to Filter > Render > Lighting Effects. Select RGB Lights from the drop-down menu and hit OK.

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and enter a radius of 250px. Set the layers blending mode to Vivid Light with an opacity of 20%.

This just adds a little more color the design, making it more interesting.

Step 12: Adding The Ever-So-Important Texture

Pick one of these textures and insert it at the top of your layers palette. Change the blending mode to Multiply and lower the opacity to 25%.

Repeat the step again with a differente texture.

Step 13: Adding A Border

Make a new layer and hit the Cmd+A combination to select the entire canvas. Go to Edit > Stroke and enter a stroke width of 40px, pick pure white as your color and hit OK. Select the Rectangular Marquee Tool and make a selection at the bottom of your poster – fill it with white on the same layer.

Change the layers blending mode to Soft Light. Make another new layer and select the whole canvas again. Go to Edit > Stroke and enter a stroke width of 15px, once again with white selected. Hit OK.

Conclusion

All done! We now have a pretty awesome abstract poster, made entirely out of triangles and simple blending techniques. Take a look at the final piece below, a long with close-ups and different colored versions.

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23 thoughts on “Design a Grungy Minimalistic Poster in Photoshop

  1. Callum Chapman Post author

    Thanks Mathew, I like to include lots of screenshots in tutorials because I feel it’s a lot more helpful if you know exactly what each step does – takes a while to do but I think it’s worth it. :)

    Reply
  2. Daniel

    Great tutorial, though the outcome looks quite similar to Chris Spooner’s “Design a Colorful Retro Futuristic Poster in Photoshop”

    Reply
  3. Callum Chapman Post author

    @Danial: Thanks! Haha, yeah it is quite similar. Me and Chris have quite similar styles, we’re both big fans of minimalistic, retro and abstract styles – and we both love playing with Blending Modes by the looks of things! ;)

    Reply
  4. TP

    All the screenshots were very helpful – it makes a world of difference when trying to understand photoshop tutorials.

    Thank you for sharing how to make this!

    Reply
  5. Callum Chapman Post author

    @JC: Thanks, I’m glad you like the outcome so much :)

    @TP, @Alex: I’ll be sure to include lots of screenshots in all of my tutorials from now on :)

    @Jared: Thanks for your support! :)

    @Chris: Thanks Chris! I like working with basic shapes to produce artwork. What a single shape can do alone is definitely under-rated!

    Reply
  6. Jon

    Cool. The grunge theme looks awesome. I like how the end product looks. I tried using this concept on my logo but it somehow looked a little bit off.Finally decided to use the professional services of an online logo design site instead (http://www.logodesignplanet.com) and finally got the logo I wanted at an affordable price and fast too. Lesson learned. I’m not going to design a logo without any professional help though it’s somewhat fun. And liberating. Definitely. Haha. Thanks for the tutorial…

    Reply
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