How to Create a Medieval Movie Poster in Photoshop

How to Create a Medieval Movie Poster in Photoshop
How to Create a Medieval Movie Poster in Photoshop

In this tutorial I will show you how to create a 3D grunge metal movie poster title in Adobe Photoshop CS5 by using the Repousse tool. Every movie poster needs a spectacular title whether it is in a grunge, metal, typographic style. Due to the release of Creative Suite 5, we are finally able to create 3D titles within Photoshop without the use of complex and expensive 3D software such as 3DSMAX, Maya or Cinema4D.

Medieval Movie Poster Photoshop Tutorial

Tutorial Resources

Final Image


Step 1

Create a new document and set the size at 27x41 inches at 72DPI. The reason we are doing this at 72dpi is because files like these can get very large and some tutorial readers might not be able to handle a file as large as this. I wanted to create a large enough canvas to see all the details during editing. Make sure you set Background Contents to White.


Step 2

Download and open the 'Medieval European Knight' image and scale the image by pressing Ctrl+T, hold Shift, drag and rotate one of theAnchor Points so that the image is placed the same as below.


Step 3

We are going to remove the background by using a Layer Mask and we are going to create a clean cut out of the European Knight with thePen Tool (P). Once you're done creating a path around the knight, close it by clicking on the first Anchor Point. Right-click within the path and select Make Selection and enter the following settings and click OK.


Once the selection has been made, click on the Layer Mask icon in the Layers Menu and you will see that this will create a very clean cut-out of our main knight.


Personally I always use Layer Masks no matter what kind of image I'm editing because it is incredibly easy to undo a mistake without permanently destroying the image.

Step 4

Repeat steps 2-3 for the knight in the top right (Before Fight) and try to scale and rotate the image as shown below.


Step 5

For the top left knight we are going to use similar techniques but with one exception; we're going to mask his beard. Always go for the highest amount of details, the viewer of your work will notice! Download the 'Knight Profile' image and open it up in Photoshop. Do not drag this into our poster canvas yet. In the Layers Menu, go to Channels.

When masking you want to select the channel with the highest contrast, in this instance we'll need to select the Red Channel. Right-click on this layer and create a duplicate, the original Red Channel will be selected by default but you need to select the copied layer.


Step 6

Go to Image>Adjustments>Levels and try to create a much higher contrast by moving the sliders. If you want to go the easy route, just copy the settings shown below and click OK.


Step 7

Select the Pen tool (P) again and create a Path around the knight. You might want to go around the beard on the inside as we're going to use a gentle technique to extract the beard. Once the Path is done, create a selection and fill it with black. The fastest way to do this is by using a very large Soft Round brush. On to the beard, use a smaller sized Soft Round brush and set the Brush Mode to Overlay. By setting it to Overlay, it will be much easier painting on or over areas you want to keep.


Step 8

We will need to remove the background to get a clean mask, so go to Image>Adjustments>Levels again and move the sliders but keep your eye on the fine detail of the beard as you don't want to go overboard.


Step 9

You will notice that there are still some major leftovers which need to be removed. Grab a large Soft Round brush, set your foreground color to white and set the Brush Mode to Overlay. With the Layer Mask selected, gently paint over the background of the image.

If you have done this properly, you should be left with a pure black and white image. Click on the RGB Channel and go back into the Layer Menu. Go to Select>Load Selection and a menu will pop up. Select the Red copy as the Channel, check the box to invert the selection and click OK. By inverting the selection, the white area will be removed from the selection.


Click on the Add Layer Mask icon in the bottom of the Layer Menu and voila! We have a clean mask.

Step 10

Drag this image into our poster canvas and position it below the European Knight layer. Rotate, scale and flip the image horizontally as shown below.


Step 11

Download and open the Tuscany Farm image but don't drag it into our poster canvas just yet. We will need to mask the landscape on the foreground as we are going to use it to create our own landscape. Go to Channels and copy the Blue Channel, as this is the channel with the highest contrast. This will be a bit different from the steps we've used for the bearded knight as the landscape has a lot of detail we don't want to lose.

With the Blue Channel copy selected, go to Image>Adjustments>Auto Levels. By doing this, Photoshop will automatically change theLevels and is sometimes extremely helpful and time-saving.

Step 12

We will need to darken the foreground a whole lot more to get a clean mask. Go to Image>Adjustments>Levels and start moving the sliders until you are convinced that it's going to work, or you could just input the following settings and click OK.


Step 13

Grab a big Soft Round brush and start darkening the foreground by using a pure black color. Go easy on this one and don't go near the trees. To darken the trees you will need to have a lot of patience as this is the part where it gets tedious. Set your Brush Mode to Overlayand darken the trees very slowly and gently. Vary between brush sizes and to see what you're masking, simply click on the RGB Channeland switch between that and the Blue copied channel.

Step 14

A nice trick to make the masking easier, is by using the Curves menu. Go to Image>Adjustments>Curves and try to find the best balance to contrast the landscape.


Step 15

Once you've darkened the foreground landscape and are satisfied with the result, we will need to start painting over the remaining area so it doesn't show up in our mask. Use the same Soft-Round brush and the Brush Mode to Overlay but set the foreground color to white. Paint away the areas you don't need but go easy around the trees. Keep doing this until you are left with something similar to this;


Step 16

Click on the RGB Channel and go back into the Layer Menu. Go to Select>Load Selection, load the Blue copy Channel, check Invert and click OK.


Step 17

Drag the image into our poster canvas and scale as shown below.


Step 18

We are going to place a background so we have a better view of what the composition is going to look like. Download and open the Sunset Sky image and drag it below all of the layers, place the image as shown.


Step 19

Download and open the Langdale image and place it below the Tuscan Farm layer as shown below. Highlighted in red are the mountains which are going to be edited later on.


Step 20

This is where the fun part starts! We are going to manipulate the two landscape images by blending them together. Disable the view of the Tuscany Farm image, by doing this we will have a better view when we are editing the Langdale image. Not only are we going to use the mountains but also the land itself for the battlefield.

Before we can do that, we need to clone some of the land and get rid of the sheep and fences. Grab the Clone Stamp tool (S) and zoom in by 300%. Clone the land by pressing Alt right next to the sheep you want to remove, then simply brush over the sheep and it will disapear when done correctly.


Once you're done with the sheep, go ahead and remove all fence posts and farm houses. If done correctly, you should end up with this;


Step 21

Select the Tuscany Farm image and click once on the Layer Mask to select it. What we are going to do now is blend the two landscapes together. Grab a large Soft Round brush as this will help the blending a lot better. Zoom in at the bottom of the Tuscan hill and simply start painting over the entire bottom area (the Tuscan ground), zoom in by 300% if you want to get the detailing right (trees, fences etc.), vary between brush sizes for this. I have lowered the Opacity of the Tuscan Farm image for better viewing, the red line indicates the figurative border you that really shouldn't cross!


Step 22

We need to separate the land from the mountains as we are about to apply color correction. Select the Langdale image, grab theRectangular Marquee Selection tool (M) and select the ground section. Right-click and create a copy.


Step 23

With the copied land layer selected, go to the bottom of the Layer Menu and add a Color Balance Adjustment layer. By default, thisAdjustment layer opens in the Midtones Channel which we will need to change to blend the photographs together.


Step 24

Select the original Langdale layer and add a Layer Mask to the image. Grab a large Soft Round brush and paint away the entire right side of the clouds and atmosphere area.


You might have noticed that the shield of the European knight is cut off but that won't be a problem as it will be blocked from our view in the next steps.

Step 25

Download and open the Renfair Stock Battle image in Photoshop and cut out the left and middle knight by using the Pen tool (P) again. This image is slightly problematic as both knights have their feet and legs in the grass which prevents us from creating a clean mask. Just cut around their limbs and around the head of the long-haired knight as there is no way we're going to get a clean mask. Scale the image as shown below.


Step 26

Now we are going to add a small army on both sides of the battlefield. First download and open the Medieval Knights photograph and cut them out by using the Pen tool (P) and place them on the left side of the poster. Repeat this step with the Knightly Tournament photograph but place these on the right.

Step 27

Click on the Create New Fill/Adjustment Layer icon in the bottom of the Layer Menu and select create Solid Color. The Color Picker pops up and you need to enter the following settings:


Step 28

The composition is coming along nicely but we also need to add a black area at the bottom of the poster to act as a transition between the poster art itself and the typography for titling and the billing block. Create a new layer and name it 'bottom_black_billing', put this on top of all the layers, use a large Soft Round brush (yes, I love that brush!) and gently paint towards the bottom of the landscape and fighting knights in an oval shape.


Step 29

If you haven't done so already, you really should start organizing at this point as it might get confusing. Simply create folders for every element in the composition (Top_Knights, Landscape, Sky etc.). For even better organizing you can give every single folder a different color by right-clicking on the layer visibility icon, then choose your color of choice.


Step 30

Select the Medieval European Knight layer and add a Curves Adjustment layer so that it's on top of all the main knights. Try to simulate the settings below for each channel.


By putting this Adjustments layer on top of the main knights, it will only affect the sky background and the knights.

Step 31

Create a Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer and put it on top of the European knight, right-click and select Create Clipping Mask. Enter the following settings, go inside every Channel and set the Saturation level of the Green, Cyan and Magentas to -100. The saturation in theBlue Channel should be set to -45, the Red and Yellow Channels should be left untouched. This will give the knight a grey-ish look which will be different when we add our final Curves Adjustment layer.

Step 32

It's very important to create a mood to base your color correction on, so create a new Curves Adjustments layer and put this on top of all the layers. We have our European knight as a reference, so simply try to create your own color scheme which you think looks best. These are my settings:


Step 33

Back to the European knight. To make the top knights really pop, we're going to create an almost majestic type of glow around them. Create a copy of the European knight, name it Majestic_glow and make it all white by using Hue/Saturation and set the Lightness to +100. Go toFilter>Blur>Motion Blur, set the Angle to -90 Degrees and set the Distance to 775 pixels. Make a copy of this layer and you will notice it becomes much brighter.


Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to 45 pixels, this will soften the harsh streaks of the motion blur a bit.


Step 34

Create a new Levels Adjustment layer and enter the following settings in the appropriate channels. This Adjustment layer should be made into a Clipping Mask on top of the Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer we have made earlier for the European knight.


Step 35

We're going to give our knight a bit of shine as we want the majestic glow to sort of engulf him in light. Add a new Brightness/Contrast Adjustment layer and but this on top of the Adjustment layers we've already made. By default, a new Adjustment layer will have a white window but for this effect to work properly, simply fill the canvas with white while the mask is selected. Grab a Round brush and set the Brush Opacity to 20% and set your foreground color to white. Vary between brush sizes and brush over the area as many times you think is necessary. You should brush over the area shown in red below.


Step 36

The images all have a bit of hard line around them because we've used the Pen tool (P) but you can get rid of this but using the Blur tool (R) on the Layer mask.

Step 37

Repeat steps 31, 33, 34, 35 and 36 for the knights on the right and left but hopefully at this point of the tutorial, you will implement some of your own color variations and techniques. Get rid of what you like or add something else of what you think benefits the composition. At this point I have added a few more Color Balance Adjustment layers to all three knights and did more tweaking and this is my result at this point of the tutorial:


Step 38

At this point I've added a Color Balance Adjustment layer with the following settings:


I've also added a Color Fill Adjustment layer (#004762) at the top of all the layers to get a good idea of where I'm headed with this poster. Order of layers:


Step 39

On top of these layers, create a Gradient Fill Adjustment layer and click OK. Set the Layer mode to Hue and the Opacity to 20%. Double click on the Gradient window and change the gradient from Solid to Noise. Click on Randomize to see a different gradient you like and click OK. This way we'll get a gradient with a huge amount of color.


Big change, isn't it? The middle of the poster looks very dark but we're going to fix that now.

Step 40

Select the 'Renfair Stock Battle' layer, add a Brightness/Contrast Adjustment layer and set the Brightness to +55% and click OK. Right-click on this layer and select 'Create Clipping Mask'. Use the same methods we've used on Step 35 to make it look the way you want. Use the Smudge tool to create strands of hair on the long-haired knight.

Step 41

At this point, I think the Tuscan landscape looks a bit too dark and the color isn't very exciting. Select the top layer of the Tuscan Farm landscape, add a Brightness/Contrast Adjustment layer and set the Brightness to +32 and the Contrast to -10 and click OK.


Only the landscape should be affected by this Adjustment layer but currently it is not, we can edit this by painting on the top of the mask with black as shown below.


Step 42

We're getting close now but I'm still not happy as I want the colors to pop a little more. Add a Color Balance Adjustment layer and play with the sliders to get the tint you want or enter the settings shown below.


Once you are done, paint on this mask as we've done with step 41.

Step 43

It's time to work on the small army on the left. Because the image is a lot brighter at the bottom, we can edit this easily by using the Burn tool. Grab the Burn tool (G) and make sure the Range of the brush is set to Midtones and the Exposure at 50%. Now you can start darkening the lower parts of the knights.

Step 44

Create a copy of this layer and make it all black by using the Hue/Saturation menu and drag it below the knights, this will be part of the shadow. Press Ctrl + T, right-click on the selection that is made and select the option Distort. Try dragging one of the points to create a believable shadow, it doesn't have to be placed correctly as you need to apply a small Gaussian blur, adjust the effect your own liking.


Repeat Steps 43 and 44 for the army on the right. Apply a Color Balance Adjustment layer and try to match the color tone of the knights with the background.

Step 45

Because I want to add some more spectacle to the composition, download and open the Fireballs image, drag it into our composition and set the Layer Mode to Screen. Resize and divide the fireballs into three individual layers. Because the blending mode of these layers have been set to Screen, they will work best on dark backgrounds so I have placed all three fireballs on top of the European knight folder.


If you are satisfied with the placements of all three layers, then go ahead and merge them. Photoshop will automatically revert the Blending Mode to normal but you will have to set it back to Screen. We will get back to this section later.

Step 46

Now it is time to start working on the title of this fictional poster. For this type of work I have decided to use the Old English Text MT which is an old school font that really fits the whole medieval style. If you have followed every step of this tutorial, then you probably used the original resolution as shown in Step 1 so type the name Infictus with a size of 405pt.


Since the tutorial is rather lengthy to follow for some, we will need to apply several Layer Styles for the effect to work so double-click on the right of the text layer within the Layer Menu and apply the following styles:


I have used a simple grey to white gradient to give the stroke a bit of a 3D look. That should be it for this text layer!


Step 47

I have already written a tutorial called "How to Create a Movie Poster Billing Block in Photoshop", so go ahead and implement it into the composition.

Step 48

Now that the text is out of the way we can focus on adding the finishing touches. Download any photographs of my Sparks Stock Photograph Set and basically repeat the techniques we have used for the fireballs in Step 45. While this step may seem short, don't be fooled as it still is a lot of work to individually rotate and alter every spark. Use these same sparks to create a trail for the fireballs.

Final Results


Download the PSD

Medieval Movie | 9 MB

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