Take a photo and turn it into this amazing retro-style artwork using Photoshop and Illustrator. You’ll learn how to create this using very few stock photos and with creative techniques that can also be used in your other designs. To follow this tutorial, you’ll need to have some basic experience with Adobe Illustrator.

Preview of Final Results

final-results

Tutorial Resources

Step 1

First is first. We need an empty canvas to begin working. Here is my canvas size of the finished design. So you can use it simply.

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Step 2

Photoshop just presented us with a blank, white canvas. We are going to set a more neutral colored backdrop for our design. So I created a new layer above the background layer and filled it with #e0ddd8.

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Step 3

Here we have the single most important stock image for our design. I liked the look of her, she is a bit worried, uncertain and concerned, you know I thought this is a good one for our purpose. It has nice and soft tones, no strong shadows and a bit mild, it looks we can play a bit.

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Step 4

First of all we need to isolate her from the background. We can use different Tools for this purpose. But I am going with the Color Range command (Menu > Select > Color Range). It does a great job when selecting plain backgrounds. Load up the Color Range box, sample the background color using the color picker. You can see the thumbnail of the image inside the Color Range box, the white part in the thumbnail represents the area selected by the command. You can also see some grey areas left on the corners and on the subject. We will deal with it in the next few steps. Press Ok to confirm.

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Step 5

Your selection should look something like this. The color range command does a decent job.

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Invert the selection (Ctrl + Shift + I). This will now select the model.

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Step 6

Let’s fine tune our selection using the powerful Refine Edge command. (Menu > Select > Refine Edge or just press Ctrl + Alt + R). It’s like a one stop solution. We can contract or expand the selection, feather the selection, smooth it and so on. Click on the On Black thumbnail which lets you the preview the selection against a black background. I slightly smoothed the selection and contracted it a bit. Press OK when you are done.

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Step 7

We just refined our selection. So let’s use it to mask out the model. While the selection is on, click on the Add Layer Mask button located at the bottom of the Layers Palette.

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Step 8

Now let’s deal with the holes in the mask. To view the mask hold Alt key and click on the layer mask thumbnail. Now you are inside the mask. Notice, there are some grey areas inside the white area and at the corners of the mask. Those are holes and we need to get rid of them. Pick a hard brush, color set to white and paint out. Now change the brush color to black and paint out the corners. Make sure you didn’t left any greys.

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Here is the perfect mask after the corrections.

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Step 9

Examine the image once again. There are lots of strands of hair which can cause problems. I want to remove them. Select them using the Pen Tool. Since lot of curves involved Pen Tool is the best choice. Select the “Paths” option for the Pen Tool on the Options Panel.

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Try to be as good as you can. Just leave of those strands of hair.

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38 thoughts on “Create a Colorful Retro Poster in Photoshop and Illustrator”

  1. Some good techniques I just learned here – thank you! I just wish Photoshop had some of Illustrators features so I don’t need to go back and forth. I can copy and paste the illustrator elements into Photoshop CC but the problem is to get Illustrator, you need the full Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. Most of my students can only afford the Lightroom and Photoshop plan.

    1. Denny Tang

      1169×1654 pixels

      Although you can use any canvas size you like, it’s best to use something similar while following the tutorial.

  2. Really covered a lot of different techniques and new shortcuts. It’s cool seeing such seemingly “random creativity” captured and explained step by step.

    I also appreciated seeing vector art combining with textures in photoshop. Merges the gap for me that I have in my head.

    thank you!

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