By Janie Kliever

Final product image

What You’ll Be Creating

In honor of St. Patrick’s day, this
tutorial will walk you through the steps of creating an Ireland travel poster
in a vintage style. We’ll be using a simple, geometric style typical of posters
from what’s known as the “Golden Age of Travel”—roughly the early- to mid-1900s—like
the ones below:

vintage travel poster examples

By starting in Illustrator and then
switching over to Photoshop, we’ll have the benefit of Illustrator’s easy-to-use
drawing tools for crisp illustrations, but also take advantage of Photoshop’s
brushes and blending modes to finish it off with authentic-looking ink and
paper textures.

For more inspiration, go check
out some vintage
fonts and texture
brushes for Photoshop on Envato

1. Gather Your Resources

There are a couple of things to
consider when designing an engaging travel poster:

  • a recognizable location,
    landmark, or cultural reference
  • authentically vintage-looking fonts
  • Step 1

    So, first, you’ll want to select
    a reference photo or gather some inspiration for whatever location you’ve
    chosen to feature on your poster. If you’d like to copy the composition you see
    here, you can find the photo at the link below. For my Ireland poster, I’ve
    chosen an image of the Cliffs of Moher,
    one of the country’s top-visited tourist sites.

    • Reference photo (via
      Flickr, courtesy of Ilaria)

    Step 2

    Next, you might want to download
    the other resources we’ll be using ahead of time so you don’t have to interrupt
    your progress with the tutorial later.

    • Fonts: Poller One and Marck Script (via
      1001 Free Fonts)
    • Four-leaf
      clover vector (via Wikimedia Commons)
    • Paper texture (via Lost & Taken)

    2. Set Up in Illustrator

    Open up an A3 document, a common
    poster size that’s roughly 11 x 17 inches. I’m using RGB as my color mode so
    the project will display well onscreen, but if you end up wanting to print it,
    don’t forget to convert to CMYK first.

    opening Illustrator document

    3. Create a Background With

    Step 1

    Open a new layer in the Layers panel and name it “Background”. Use
    the Rectangle Tool to draw a
    rectangle that covers a little less than half of the artboard.

    Step 2

    Next, we’ll apply a gradient to
    the background shape. It will be easier to adjust your gradients if you have
    the colors you want to use already in your Swatches panel. I’m using three
    shades of blue: #4E789C and #A0BEDC for the first gradient, and #63A0AA for the
    second one.

    With the shape you just drew selected,
    go to Windows > Gradient and
    select Linear under Type, and change the angle to 90.

    Step 3

    The small squares at the bottom
    of the color spectrum are called gradient sliders. Double-click the one on the
    right and select the dark grayish-blue shade (#4E789C) from your swatches.
    Double-click on the left slider and change the color to white.

    Now add a third slider near the
    middle by hovering with your mouse near the bottom edge of the color spectrum
    until your cursor changes to white with a small plus sign (+) next to it. Click
    to add a slider and change its color to the lightest blue color (#A0BEDC).

    creating first background gradient

    You can adjust the position of
    the colors by dragging the sliders at the bottom. You can also adjust how the
    colors blend into each other (gradually or with sharp divisions) by dragging the two
    diamond-shaped sliders at the top. The settings I’ve used are pictured above.

    Step 4

    Repeat steps 2 and 3 to create
    another gradient to fill the lower empty part of the artboard. This one is a
    two-color gradient, with the medium blue (#63A0AA) mentioned earlier along with white, at the settings you see below.

    creating second background gradient

    Step 5

    Next, we’ll place a hillside in
    the background. First, add two shades of green to your swatches: a darker one
    (#2A7B00) and a lighter one (#529108).

    Now use the Pen Tool to draw a crooked line that slopes down from left to
    right across the bottom of the poster, and make the color the darker green. Draw a smaller, similar shape to
    layer on top and apply a gradient using both greens (light on the left, dark on
    the right), as you see below:

    creating third background gradient

    4. Draw the Cliffs

    Step 1

    Lock the Background layer and
    create a new layer, naming it “Cliffs”.

    Now it’s time to take a look at
    your photo. It helps to place it off to the side of your artboard for easy reference. Use the photo to get a basic idea of the shape and
    scale of the cliffs.

    Step 2

    Use the Pen Tool to rough out the shapes of each cliff. It doesn’t have to
    be exact, but you do want the sense of the cliffs receding in size off into the
    distance. You can even trace over the photo to get the general placement right
    if you like.

    drawing cliff shapes with pen tool

    Make sure to not make them too
    large, so you have room for the text at the top. As a group, the edge of the
    cliffs should stop short of the right edge of the artboard, and the top of the
    tallest one should end about two-thirds of the way up the artboard from the

    If you need to adjust the size, select all the pieces at once to
    preserve their size and position relative to each other.

    Step 3

    We want the cliffs to be lighter
    in color as they get smaller so they look as if they’re fading into the
    distance. An easy way to get lighter or darker versions (also known as tints
    and shades) of a base color it to use Illustrator’s Color Guide tool.

    So first make the largest
    cliff a dark grayish-brown color, #474549. This is our base color. Now open up
    the Color Guide (Window > Color Guide)
    and select Shades from the drop-down

    Step 4

    You’ll see our base color in the
    middle of the first row with a little arrow pointing at it. To the right of
    that are lighter versions, or tints, of that color. Apply those to the
    remaining three cliffs.

    using Illustrators color guide

    I also added gradients to the
    middle two cliffs for a little extra depth, making the right edges one shade
    darker; you can do the same if you like.

    Step 5

    To add some grassy patches to the
    cliffs, take a look at the reference photo for placement ideas, and then use the Pen Tool to place some simple, angular

    adding grass to cliffs

    The greens are the same we used
    for the hillside—the darker green for the first cliff, and the lighter green
    for the second one.

    Step 6

    Our last step to finish off the
    cliffs is to add some water foaming up at the bottom, so select the Pen Tool again. This time, instead of
    just clicking in anchor points for straight lines and angles, click and hold
    while dragging your cursor to create a smooth, curved line that loops in and
    out along the bottom edges of the cliffs.

    outlining with pen tool

    Step 7

    Remove the outline on the shape
    if you have one (by changing the Stroke color to None), and then apply a
    gradient. From the Gradient Fill drop-down
    menu, select Fade to White. This
    will make one side of the gradient white and the other clear, letting whatever
    color is underneath show through. You can see the other settings below:

    applying fade to white gradient

    5. Create a Tourist Figure

    In the style of illustration
    we’re using, drawing people really isn’t that complicated. It’s simply a series
    of geometric and curved shapes (like the ones we’ve been drawing already)
    stacked strategically together. You may want to work on this part off in the
    empty space beside your artboard so you have some room to put all the pieces
    together and so the background doesn’t get in your way.

    If you’d like to just go for it
    and create your own figure, feel free (and then skip down to the “Arrange the
    Typography” section). But if you’d like to copy this one, read on for the
    step-by-step process. First, lock the “Cliffs” layer and create a new one
    called “Tourist”.

    Step 1

    The main body is basically just two tapered rectangles (drawn with the Pen Tool):
    one with straight edges and the other with curved sides. The width of the shapes
    should be the same where they meet. The colors are as follows: #C1272D for the red;
    #314463 for the blue.

    drawing person with pen tool

    Step 2

    For the arms, start out by
    drawing a shallow, sideways V with the Pen
    —this is the inside angle of the left arm. Continuing from one of the
    endpoints, still using the Pen Tool, draw a straight line extending out and two
    curved lines to form the outer edge of the arm; close the shape with another
    straight line.

    (Here’s a quick Pen Tool tip: When
    transitioning between a curved and a straight line, you’ll want to click on the
    anchor point before continuing to convert it from a smooth point to a corner
    point, so you’ll have a completely straight line and clean angle.)

    drawing arms with pen tool

    If needed, resize the completed
    shape so it’s the same height as the torso. We’ll reuse it for the right arm,
    so copy and paste the shape to duplicate it, and then rotate it 180 degrees by
    selecting Object > Transform >
    and typing in 180. With
    the shape still selected, click on the top middle handle on its frame and drag
    it down a bit so the arm is not as tall as the first.

    Step 3

    Next up, the hands and legs. For
    the hands, draw right on top of the arms with the Pen Tool so the proportions
    turn out right and you don’t have to resize. Similar to the arms, we have a combination
    of straight and curved lines: straight lines for the top of the hands and
    fingers, and a curve for the underside of the hand where the palm is.

    For the legs, draw two narrow,
    tapered rectangles and add some simple shoes or boots on top. Select both the
    legs and boots and send everything to the back (Object > Arrange > Send to Back) so they’re behind the skirt.

    drawing hands and legs with pen tool

    Step 4

    Lastly, the scarf, hair, and hat (we’ll
    be placing them in that order on top of the torso).

    For the scarf, all you need is a
    rectangle with curved sides and two leaf-like shapes, in the same darker green
    color we used before. Draw these with the Pen
    without worrying too much about creating perfect shapes; most of the
    scarf will be covered up by the hair.

    drawing scarf with pen tool

    Step 5

    For the hair, start off with the Ellipse Tool to draw an oval. Then
    return to the Pen Tool to draw a
    sort of a curved triangle with a tail for the ends of the hair.

    After you
    arrange the two shapes together, you can unite them into one by selecting Window > Pathfinder > Unite;
    even out any lumpy spots with the Smooth
    (access it with a click-hold of the Pencil Tool).

    drawing hair with ellipse and pen tools

    The color of brown I’m using for
    both the hair and boots is #603813.

    Step 6

    We’ll put together the hat in two stages, covered in steps 6 and 7. For some visual supplements to these steps, scroll down to the image at the end of step 7.

    • Use the Ellipse Tool to draw an oval for the
      brim, and rotate it so it’s tilted slightly, about 45 degrees.
    • Select the Add Anchor Point Tool (accessed with a click-hold on the Pen Tool)
      and click to add an anchor point on the oval about halfway between the left and
      bottom points. Change over to the Direct
      Selection Tool
      and drag that new point slightly inwards.
    • Still using the Direct Selection Tool, grab the
      leftmost anchor point and drag it up and left so that side of the oval is
      longer and straighter.

    When you click on an anchor
    point with the Direct Selection Tool,
    some handles will appear. You can click and drag those handles to manipulate
    the outlines of your shape.

    • Experiment with adjusting the
      handles of the anchor points on the left side until you have a flatter oval
      with a slight indent.

    Step 7

    Now we’ll work on the crown of
    the hat.

    • Start off with a small rectangle tilted at a similar angle to your oval.
    • Use the Add Anchor Point Tool to place an anchor point on the top side of
      the rectangle near the middle. Then drag it down and left with the Direct Selection Tool. Also drag the
      two bottom points outwards, more so for the one on the right.
    • Click on the upper left anchor
      point with the Direct Selection Tool, and
      in the Anchor Point toolbar that appears across the top of your screen, select
      the Convert selected anchor points to
      button. This will give that corner a rounded edge, and you can adjust
      the handles if needed.

    Use the Pen Tool to finish off the hat with a red band. The blue color is
    the same we used earlier for the skirt.

    drawing hat with pen tool

    Step 8

    Now your tourist figure is
    complete! Adjust the size of each element as needed to fit with the previous
    parts of the illustration. When you’re satisfied with the result, switch back
    to the regular Selection Tool, drag
    an invisible box around the whole illustration to select all the parts, and hit
    Command/Control-G to group them

    Place the figure in the bottom
    left corner of the composition and size to fit if necessary.

    completed vector drawing

    6. Arrange the Typography

    Step 1

    If you haven’t already, download
    and install the fonts we’ll be using (Poller One and Marck Script) along
    with the four-leaf
    clover vector graphic. Create a new layer named “Text”.

    Step 2

    Type out “IRELAND” using the
    Poller One font at about 130 pt. Change the color to white.

    With the word selected, go to Effect > Warp > Rise and set the Bend to 56%. Position it more or less in the center of the sky area above
    the cliffs.

    warping text

    Step 3

    Use the Ellipse Tool to create a small white circle that covers the hole in
    the R. We’ll be replacing it with the four-leaf clover graphic for a little
    extra St. Patrick’s Day festiveness.

    Place the graphic (File > Place > locate where you
    have the file saved), change the color to green (the green we’ll be using from
    here on out is the darker shade), and reduce the size so it fits within the
    curve of the R.

    placing four-leaf clover

    Step 4

    Now let’s add a shadow. Copy
    “IRELAND” and Paste in Back,
    changing the color to green. Now go to Effect
    > Distort & Transform > Transform.
    On the sliders under Move, drag them both to the left the
    smallest increment you can, which is -0.0139
    Then type 12 in the box
    labeled copies (if you want a bigger
    shadow, just type in a bigger number). You’ll end up with a nice cast shadow
    like this:

    applying text shadow

    Step 5

    Next up, we’ll add the rest of
    our text. Using the Marck Script font, type out “Visit” at 110 pt and change
    the color to white.

    Place the word in the empty space
    above “IRELAND” (so the V just about lines up with the clover) and rotate it to
    a similar angle. Then go to Object >
    Transform > Shear
    and type 20 in
    the Shear Angle box.

    shearing text

    Step 6

    Our last bit of text—“The Cliffs
    of Moher”—is a mix of the two typefaces. You can see the arrangement below.

    All the capital letters
    (excluding the C and M in script) are set in Poller One, 35 pt. The parts
    following the C and M are rotated and then sheared 20 degrees—the same technique we
    just used for “Visit.”

    The C and M are set in Marck
    at 132 pt. The M has also been rotated and then sheared 20 degrees to fit
    better with the tilt of the text. The word “of” is 54 pt, with no additional effects. The
    color is the same blue we used for the first gradient, #4E789C.

    completed typography

    And that wraps up the placement
    of our typography. Here’s what we have so far: the completed vector portion of
    our illustration. Next, we’ll switch over to Photoshop. (But don’t close your
    Illustrator document yet, because we’ll need it one more time here shortly.)

    completed vector illustration with typography

    7. Set Up in Photoshop

    Step 1

    Now it’s time to add some texture
    to our illustration. Open a new Photoshop document with the same specifications as your
    Illustrator document:

    opening Photoshop document

    Step 2

    Download the paper texture if you
    haven’t already. Place it in your document and size it to fill the whole

    Step 3

    Create a new layer in Photoshop.
    Now go to Illustrator and copy all the contents of your artboard (now we’re
    done with Illustrator).

    Paste into your new Photoshop
    layer. When a dialog box pops up asking what you want to paste it as, select Smart Object. That way, if you notice
    anything in your vector illustration that you want to change, all you have to
    do is double-click on the smart object and it will automatically open in
    Illustrator. You make any changes you want, save it in Illustrator, and the
    changes magically appear right in Photoshop. Pretty neat!

    Step 4

    With your smart object selected,
    go to Layer > Layer Style >
    Blending Options
    and select Hard
    from the Blend Mode drop-down
    menu. All the other settings can stay the same. This makes it look as if our vector
    illustration was actually printed on real paper.

    placing paper texture

    The brown paper will give the
    illustration a certain tone. If you’d like to tweak that tone, maybe making it
    more yellowish or greenish, try experimenting with the options you’ll find
    under Image > Adjustments >

    8. Add Texture

    Our method for adding texture to
    the actual illustration is a simple one involving just two tools: the Quick
    Selection Tool and the Brush Tool, using one of Photoshop’s default brushes.

    Step 1

    Create a new layer. Choose the Quick Selection Tool, making sure to
    select the Sample All Layers checkbox
    at the top of the screen. This will allow us to select specific areas that we
    want our brushed textures to stay within.

    Now let’s start with the grassy
    hillside. Use the Quick Selection Tool,
    clicking and dragging your cursor across the hillside. The tool should make your selection automatically conform to the exact shape of the hillside,
    indicated by a wiggly dashed line:

    using quick selection tool

    Step 2

    Now choose the Eyedropper Tool and click within the
    lighter green area of the hillside to select that color. Pick the Sea Sponge 2 brush, or any other
    textured brush you like (you can find this one in the Brushes panel in the Faux
    Finishes Brushes

    Make the diameter of the brush
    fairly large, between 400 and 500 pixels, and add some highlights along the top
    of the hillside. Apply the brush one click at a time rather than with
    strokes—the grainy texture will show up better this way. And don’t worry about
    “coloring outside the lines”—textures will only be applied within the bounds of
    the area we selected with the Quick Selection Tool.

    using texture brush

    Remember, you can always erase
    anything you don’t like.

    Step 3

    Repeat the same process for the
    cliffs. Try adding texture in two tones: one lighter than the base color of a
    cliff and one darker. You can also lower the opacity of your brush for a more
    faded effect or to help blend in the edges of your textures.

    adding texture to cliffs

    If you want to remove part of
    your selection (say you selected the whole first cliff but want to subtract
    the grassy patches), just hit the Subtract
    from selection
    button (the third one in the toolbar at the top of your screen) before resuming using the Quick Selection Tool. If you want more
    precise selecting ability, reduce the size of your brush.

    Step 4

    For the sea foam, start off with
    white and concentrate your texture brushing close to the bottom edges of the

    Then use the Eyedropper Tool and pick blues from the water area of your illustration,
    working inwards with the brush toward the white textures you just applied to soften the hard outer lines of that white gradient a

    applying texture to water

    Step 5

    Last but not least, add a little
    shading to your tourist, and then admire your finished creation!

    shading tourist figurefinal project display

    You’ve Arrived at Your

    Congratulations on making it all the way through. I hope you’ve learned some tips and techniques for pairing the
    unique tools and abilities found in both Illustrator and Photoshop to complete a single
    project. Hopefully you’ve got in some good practice using the Pen Tool and anchor
    points in one, and applying texture with blending modes and brushes in the

    As always, feel free to share how
    your project turned out or ask questions in the comments section. Happy

    Read more here:: How to Design a Vintage Travel Poster in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop