If you need to make a personalized poster, Photoshop is the most versatile choice there is. This tutorial will show you how to create a simple poster in Photoshop, from setting up the document to combining graphics and text.
However, if you are looking for Photoshop-like quality on your design without the learning curve, we recommend using one of the top online poster printers!
If you are Photoshop ready, I will be using a red curtain texture and a silhouette of a dancing couple to create a simple event or business poster.
Step 1. Set up the document.
Launch Photoshop and start a new document (File>New). Some of the standard poster sizes are 8.5” x 11,” 11” x 17,” 18” x 24,” 24” x 36,” and 27” x 40.” For this tutorial, I will pick the small 8.5” x 11.” Before confirming, set the color mode to CMYK with a 300 pixels/inch resolution.
Step 2. Set up the margins.
Enable Photoshop’s rulers (View>Rulers). Right click on the rulers and set the unit to inches. I will create a margin of 0.125” for each border to ensure nothing will be cut off after printing.
Click on the vertical ruler and drag to set the first guide to 0.125” and the second to 8.375.” Repeat for the horizontal ruler, setting a guide to 0.125” and the other to 10.875.” No element of your design should extend over these margins.
Step 3. Insert your background.
Open the background image — in this case, the curtain texture. Right click on the background’s layer and choose Duplicate. From the menu, select the poster’s document as a destination. Use the transform tool (Edit>Transform) to adjust the background’s size to the poster’s area and confirm when you are done.
Step 4. Insert your graphics.
Open the dancing couple image. Turn it into an editable layer (Layer>New>Layer from Background). With the help of the Magic Wand tool, select the white background and then hit the back space to detach the silhouettes from it. Duplicate the detached graphics’ layer to the original poster document, over the curtain background.
Step 5. Add some dimension.
Duplicate the silhouettes’ layer and move it under the original graphics. Change its blend mode to Multiply and lower the opacity to about 25 percent. Enlarge the graphics with the transform (Edit>Transform>Scale) so they occupy a good portion of the background’s area.
Step 6. Make a vignette.
Grab the Gradient tool from Photoshop’s toolbar and select a black to transparent radial gradient. Position the pointer in the central area of the poster and drag to create a dark vignette around the borders.
Don’t overdo it. Keep it subtle. The vignette should emphasize the important elements of the design, not conceal them. Change the vignette’s blend mode to multiply and slightly lower its opacity if necessary.
Step 7. Add some depth.
To add a little depth to the poster, add a soft outer glow (Layer>Layer Style>Outer Glow) to the dancing couple’s layer. Choose a light red color, set the size to 100 and lower the opacity to 20 percent. The effect should be faint enough to blend nicely with the background.
Step 8. Include your text.
Use the Type tool to add textual information. Write a tagline that is relevant to the message you intend to convey and place it where it’s easy to spot. This will attract the viewer’s attention as much as the visuals.
Arrange the text so it’s easy to read and it comfortably leads the eye from one line to the next. Apply effects to the layers containing the text, like glows, drop shadows, or gradients, so they are prominent against the background.
Remember to include all the essential details about your event or offer — but leave something to the viewer’s imagination.
This is a preview of the final poster.
Make an impression.
Posters can increase any business’ visibility and make them stand out from the competition. Choose beautiful graphics, devise a clear message, arrange images carefully, and choose a reliable printer: This way you will be sure to make an impression on your potential audience.
Edited in Photoshop CS5. Images courtesy of Moi Cody, KornKidSamStock, RedWolf518.