WHAT WE’RE CREATING:
Hey Design Cutters! Simon here, and today we’re going to have fun creating some inspirational posters! These kinds of designs are huge on social networks such as Instagram, and can be a great way to get creative, and show off your design skills to a wider audience.
These posters will also show you some great ways to work with the 22 fonts available as part of this week’s bundle, walking you through some basic typographic principles, more advanced text functionality, as well as various other handy design techniques.
Let’s get started!
Because there are so many of them, today we’ll work on two different pieces, based on two different quotes. While both pieces feature type, imagery, and textures, we’ll focus on the type part of each the most, having a detailed look at the typefaces we’ll use, and their manipulation to accomplish our end goals.
Ready? Then let’s get right to it!
A FEW TECHNICAL NOTES
PSA #1: don’t know what a clipped layer is? Glad you asked! This means that the layer is only visible/applies to the layer directly below it. You can very quickly do this by holding ‘Alt’ down on your keyboard and clicking between the two layers. Here’s a quick demonstration.
PSA #2: every time we’ll work with textures, we’ll follow this simple process: place as smart object, sharpen, desaturate, enhance contrast with levels, and modify the blending mode.
PSA #3: placing the textures as smart objects, and using adjustment layers to tweak them, allows us to stick to a non destructive workflow. We’ve explored in depth the numerous pros and few cons of such a workflow in this past tutorial: “How to Use Textures The Right Way.”
Now that these are out of the way, let’s proceed.
FIRST PIECE: “IT’S ALWAYS TOO SOON TO QUIT!”
STEP 1: CONCEPT, AND ORIGIN STORY
The first quote comes to us via Norman Vincent Peale.
“It’s always to soon to quit!”
―Norman Vincent Peale
We are going to use Hustle Supply Co’s Yonder and Growler Script typefaces for our piece.
The quote is about optimism, and resilience in the face of challenges. I recently went through some draining events, and the message resonated greatly.
A popular visual allegory for trying events is a mountain, that one has to figuratively (or literally) climb. We’ll adopt a similar theme for our piece, by using this great shot of Ben Nevis (the highest mountain in the British Isles, located in the Scottish Highlands) as our backdrop. You can download the full-size image via Wikimedia Commons, thank to user Nilfanion.
We’ll use the contrast between Yonder and Growler script to structure the quote, a bit like our buddy Ian Barnard did in his Where ideas happen piece. You should totally follow Ian on Instagram for more goodness.
Where ideas happen – © Ian Barnad – All rights reserved
Pretty straight forward, right? Hey ho, let’s go.
STEP 2: SETTING UP OUR PHOTOSHOP DOCUMENT
We are going to base our piece on our usual 18″x24″ canvas.
STEP 3: THE BACKGROUND
Place the photo in your canvas, so it’s horizontally centered, flush with the bottom of the canvas, and 20″ tall.
We can use the absolute placement tools at our disposal to make sure everything is accurate.
Protip: you can right-click on the fields to change their units.
Next, we need to tweak the top of the picture to blend it seamlessly with a solid color. In other words, we’ll remove the hard edge at the top of the picture, and prepare a smooth surface for where our type element will leave.
Start by sampling a very pale blue above the mountain line, and fill the background layer with it. I got #e5eaed.
From there, attach a layer mask to the picture’s smart object (Layer > Layer mask > Reveal all, or you can use the appropriate button at the bottom of the layer palette).
The next step is to take a soft round brush, and to paint away the elements of the image we want to discard.
Note that we could instead use the pen tool to create a very precise selection, like we did to cut out the car in the Grindhouse poster tutorial, but the asset we have at hand doesn’t warrant that.
One of the best brushes for the job would be a soft, round brush, with a hardness of 0%, and a radius of 200 to 300 pixels. Smaller is better if you’re not familiar with the process. Carefully following the mountain range line, let’s hide the clouds.
The goal isn’t to have the most precise airbrush job in history, but a smooth transition.
Next, we need to sharpen the image. Let’s start by duplicating the image layer.
Desaturate the copy by using a clipped hue/saturation adjustment layer.
Once we’re done desaturating the copy, we are going to apply he high pass filter to it (Filter > Other > High pass). The radius value should be at 100 pixels.
After that, we need to change the blending mode of the copy to Soft light @ 100%.
With all of that, our background preparation is ready. Don’t forget to organize your layers.
STEP 4: THE TYPE ELEMENTS
“It’s always to soon to quit!”
Norman Vincent Peale
These are the text elements we’ll need to include on our piece (quote, and author name). Here’s how we’ll break it down: “It’s always too soon / to quit!”
It’s always too soon will be written using the sans-serif Yonder, and to quit! in the contrasting Growler script.
Let’s start with the “It’s always too soon” part. Yonder’s character set is lovely, and includes a few alternate letter shapes between the upper case and lower case sets.
We will not use any of Yonder’s alternate characters in the quote itself, but we’ll use them in the credit line. Start by typing the line, slightly above the mountain top. It’s sized at 72 points tall, and all in lower case.
Next, we will warp the type in an arc. We’ll use a 50% bend (access the filter via Type > Warp text).
Finally, we’re going to change the text’s color to a dark color sampled from the image. I’m going to use a dark blue hue, sampled from the rocky area below to summit. I got #3d526f.
Next, we need to tackle the “to quit!” part. For that part, and I’m sorry to say it, we need to use Illustrator, because Photoshop doesn’t feature the Glyphs panel. Yonder also isn’t designed in a way to allow the access of its alternate characters through Open Type features like swashes, contextual alternates, or stylistic alternates.
Not familiar with Illustrator’s Glyph panel yet? Don’t worry, we got you covered! The explanations below should do the trick, but you could read more about it in this past mini-tutorial, “How to use alternate and extra characters with your fonts.”
Open Illustrator, and create a new document. A basic letter-sized / A4 sheet will do the trick. Using a landscape orientation gives you more real estate to play with.
First, let’s write our text element in Growler Script. The case you should adopt is the following: To Quit! We’ll size our text at 300 points tall, as this is roughly what we’ll need to have our two words match the width of our arched text.
Now, let’s have a look at Growler’s character set.
The various alternates are visible on the bottom lines, along with a few swashes options. The regular capital “T” has a beautiful shape, but the alternate extending to the left will make our line more dynamic. Highlight the “T,” and open the Glyphs panel (Window > Type > Glyphs).
You can see the “T” being highlighted, as it’s the highlighted letter in our text object.
Proceed to double-click on the alternate “T” (lower-left corner of the panel).
Because we highlighted the regular “T,” the alternate character will replace it rather than append it where the cursor is.
We’re almost ready. If you observe closely, certain character junctions aren’t too clean.
We are going to use the kerning field of the character panel to fix this. Placing the cursor between the two offending characters, we’re going to tweak the kerning value until satisfactory visual smoothness.
The value for the kerning between “u” and “i” is -2.
Same for the space between “i” and “t.”
The final touch is to assign the proper color to the type object. Use the same pale blue color as when we extended the background into a solid color at the beginning (#e5eaed).
From there, we can paste the text object as a smart object in our Photoshop document. I’d suggest saving the Illustrator file just in case.
Let’s focus now on adjusting the position of our text elements. The goal is to place the arched text nicely above the tip of mountain, and to place “to quit!” in relation to that.
My final absolute placement value for “it is always too soon” is X: 9.65″, and Y: 6.25″. Note that these values are relative to the center of each type objects.
“To Quit!” is to be placed so it optically fits under the arc. Final placement values: X: 9.65″, and Y: 10.75″.
Lastly, we need to credit the quote to its author, Norman Vincent Peale. This will be done in Yonder, sized at 30 points tall. We’ll use some of the “fancy” alternates hidden in the upper case character set, so we’ll have to respect the following case: “Norman Vincent peAle.” We’ll locate at the bottom of the poster, so we should also give it the pale blue color (#e5eaed).
Final positioning: X: 9″, and Y:22.5″.
Don’t forget to tidy these layers up.
STEP 5: TEXTURES
The piece functions in part because of its minimalistic approach. We will add just a hint of texture to it so it has a bit more depth, but not so much as the texture becomes the prominent feature here.
The textures we’ll use are both included in the Mother’s Day card freebie pack. Head to the freebie area to download it!
Once you have both textures at hand, proceed to locate 2LO Black Screen Film1 4.jpg.
Place it in your document so it fits exactly the canvas.
Sharpen the texture (Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen), and change its blending mode to Screen @ 100% opacity.
We’ll tweak the texture’s intensity by using a clipped levels adjustment layer.
The result is a softer feel.
The second texture we’ll use is vintage-paper-textures-volume-03-sbh-011.jpg. We are going to give it two different treatments, to bring two different set of artifacts out of it.
First, place it in your canvas so the tape mark at the top left of the texture is slightly visible at the top right of the frame.
After desaturating the texture with a clipped hue/saturation adjustment layer, use a clipped curves adjustment layer to invert the texture.
Finally, use a clipped levels adjustment layer to intensify the contrast of the texture. This gives us access to these great dust-like speckles.
Change the blending mode of the texture to Screen @ 100% opacity.
We’ll need to place the texture a second time in our document. It should be done in such a way that the ink mark present at the bottom right of the texture should be visible in the top right of the frame.
A clipped levels adjustment layer will help to optimize the contrast.
Finally, change the blending mode of the texture to Color burn @ 25% opacity.
Last time we need to organize our layers:
STEP 6: FINISHING TOUCH
In order to give a little bit more texture to the piece, we are going to add a halftone effect to wrap things up.
Start by creating a merged copy of all your layers. This is accomplished by using the CTRL/CMD+SHIFT+ALT/OPTION+E keyboard shortcut. This will create a new layer at the top of your layer stack, that I’ve renamed into Halftones.
Make the layer into a smart object (Filter > Convert for smart filters on Photoshop CC, or Layer > Smart Object > Convert to Smart Object).
From there, apply a Color halftone effect to the layer (Filter > Pixelate > Color halftone).
Change the blending mode of the effect to Soft light @ 100% opacity, by double-clicking on this symbol in your layer palette.
Finally, lower the opacity of the halftone layer to 50%, and the piece is done!
SECOND PIECE: “IF YOU FELL YESTERDAY, STAND UP TODAY”
STEP 1: CONCEPT
For this second piece, we’re going to explore a different type of typeface contrast, and layout.
We have recently played with type breaking the canvas’ boundaries in our “Sadness flies away on the wings of time” tutorial.
It just happens that thus bundle features Matchmaker, a typeface that would be even better suited for this type of experimentation. Just look at these starting and ending swashes.
We’ll see how we can use that to our advantage to illustrate the following H. G. Wells quote:
“If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.”
As a visual contrast to Matchmaker’s swashes and dancing letters, we’ll use the bold, geometrical shapes of Latino Type’s Roble Alt.
Finally, take notes that we will stick to Photoshop for this one. No need for Illustrator this time, woohoo! Let’s get to it.
STEP 2: DOCUMENT SETUP
For this piece, we are going to work with a 10″x10″ canvas. This will make the resulting image fit for a neat square print, a record sleeve (well, almost), and once resized, content to share on the interwebs. We’ll talk more about that last part towards the end.
STEP 3: THE BACKGROUND
When we were thinking of ways to illustrate the quote, we came across this great image of a girl doing a backflip on a Sydney beach, back in 1937.
Additional research shows that you can get a slightly higher quality picture directly at the source (the State Library of New South Wales’ website).
The image has a great grain to it. Coupled with the dynamism of the action captured, it’s a perfect base point for us.
Let’s place the photo in our document, so the girl is near the top right corner, but not flush with it.
Next, proceed to sharpen the image using the high-pass filter technique we used in our first piece. Note that you won’t need to desaturate the copy in this case, as the image is i black and white already.
Next, we are going to give some color to our background. Create a new layer at the top of your layer stack, and fill it with the turquoise blue #369b9e.
Change the color layer’s blending mode to Multiply @ 100% opacity.
The effect is satisfying, but not strong enough. The image still shows through very strongly, and this would make our type harder to read down the road. Simply duplicate the color layer, but lower the opacity of the copy down to 25%.
Next, we’re going to add some staining effect to our piece, courtesy of Design Cuts’ biggest freebie pack: the one year anniversary freebie pack. Head to the freebie area to download it (look for the Mega Birthday Freebies Pack). We’ll also use other resources from this pack down the road.
In the freebie pack, locate 28.png, this beautiful ink wash.
We are going to place it in the document so most of the staining is focused on the center of the canvas.
Finally, change its blending mode to Overlay @ 35%.
Our background is ready to go. Organize your layers, and then it’ll be time to move on to the type.
STEP 4: THE TYPE ELEMENTS
Let’s have a look at the quote again. We’ll use Matchmaker for “yesterday” and “today,” and Roble for the rest.
“If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.”
Here’s the line breaks we’ll follow:
“If you fell down / yesterday / stand up / today”
Start by writing “yesterday” in lower case, and rather big in your canvas. 90 points tall, center-aligned is a good place to start.
Now, in order to obtain the starting and ending swashes, we’ll need to simply follow the instructions:
“Matchmaker features smart contextual alternates and swashes that add to the front and beginnings of letters (try using + + + on the end and = = = on the beginning of lowercase letters to see the feature in action).”
Let’s give it a go!
Swashes not appearing? No need to panick! It’s simply because the standard ligatures and the contextual alternates were turned off in the character palette.
Next, let’s take care of “today” as well. Protip: if the swashes don’t show up again, simply highlight the “===” and “+++,” and turn the contextual alternates off and on again.
The issue is that “today” being a shorter word than “yesterday,” the swashes don’t extend all the way across the canvas and out. The remedy is to increase the size of the letters to make them 120 points tall.
Let’s add the rest of the words in. Set them in Roble Alt Bold, at 30 points tall. The trick will be to write each word individually, so you can tweak their positioning separately.
The idea is to trust our eyes, to balance the various words optically. Making them fit in the open gaps left by Matchmaker’s letter shapes is an exercise in small nudges left and right, with the keyboard’s arrow keys.
Also, all these individual words are leaving quite a mess in our layer palette. It’s time to clean this up.
Once we’re satisfied with the placement of the word groups in each half of the quote, it’s time to adjust the spacing between both blocks.
Finally, it’s time to place the ensemble relatively to the canvas. Once again, this is a good exercise in trusting our eyes. The square format makes these optical adjustments much easier than a tall poster format.
There are some kerning adjustments needed with Matchmaker, where the end swashes connect with the last letter of the word.
Just like before, place the cursor between the offending letters, and adjust as needed.
Finally, it’s time to add a splash of color. We are going to set the color of the first half of the quote to a warm yellow (#f09e4d). This will make it “pop” slightly less than the pure white second half of the quote, helping to emphasize the positive part of the message.
And our type is ready. Now, onto textures.
STEP 5: TEXTURES
Luckily for us, the anniversary freebie pack includes a few of 2 Lil’ Owls’ textures. These are great for our piece, as they’re in a square format. The first one we’ll use is 2LO Relic 23.jpg.
Blending mode: Soft light @ 35% opacity.
The next texture is 2LO White Grunge 14.jpg.
Blending mode: Soft light @ 25% opacity.
Finally, the last texture we’ll add to our second piece is screentexture20.jpg. Because it’s black and white, no need to desaturate it, or to tweak its levels. We’ll place it with its bottom edge flush with the bottom of our canvas.
Blending mode: Screen @ 100% opacity.
We’re done with adding textures to the piece. This means that we should organize these layers in their dedicated layer group.
That being said, the last touch of texture we’ll bring to the piece is a color halftone effect as well. Again, we’ll start by the merged copy of all our layers (CTRL/CMD+SHIFT+ALT/OPTION+E), and by making it a smart object.
We’ll again use the color halftone effect (Filter > Pixelate > Color halftone).
Change the effect’s blending mode to Soft light @ 100% opacity.
Change the layer’s blending mode to Lighter color @ 50% opacity.
The last thing to do is to correct the slight shift to green the colors take because of the color halftone. We’ll do that by using a hue/saturation adjustment layer, clipped to the Halftone layer. The Old style preset fits our needs perfectly.
And our second piece is done!
STEP 6: SAVING THE PIECE FOR SOCIAL MEDIA
If you remember, I mentioned somewhere at the beginning of this second piece how the square format was perfect for sharing these pieces via social media networks.
Found via DesignTaxi, the social media image size cheat sheet is a very helpful document. After going through it, you’ll see that square images with content centered in their middle section are a sort of silver bullet for social media managers. They are the best asset to share across networks, ensuring that a solid portion of the image will be shown regardless of the way each site crops and displays images.
With that in mind, Instagram is probably the social network that let’s you display the biggest image when sharing it (in terms of real estate on the screen it’s typically browsed on), seconded by Facebook. The displayed image size on Instagram is 640×640 pixels. Given the wide availability of “retina”/high-density screen in mobile devices, you should export the image at at least twice that size for the sharpest quality (1280×1280 pixels). I personally use 2048×2048 pixels for my work and my clients’.
You can have a sense of what the piece looks like on Instagram by having a look at my feed:
WRAPPING THINGS UP
Phew, that was a long post. I hope you liked both pieces, and following the process along, as much as I liked designing and writing about them. If you have any technical questions, please use the comments below, and either myself or the rest of the Design Cuts team will reply to them.
Finally, we’d love to see your tutorial outcomes! Please share them with us on the Design Cuts Facebook page. We’ll share the best ones with the whole community.
Don’t forget, there are just a few days left to grab the 22 Best Selling Gorgeous Fonts Bundle for 98% the regular price (saving you over $1600 on this world class selection of popular fonts)! If you have them already, I hope that you enjoy your new resources, and that this tutorial gave you a sense of what you can accomplish with them.
That’s it for me today! Until next time, cheers, and have a wonderful weekend.