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:
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
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:
landmark, or cultural reference
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)
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)
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.
3. Create a Background With
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.
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:
#A0BEDC for the first gradient, and
#63A0AA for the
With the shape you just drew selected,
go to Windows > Gradient and
select Linear under Type, and change the angle to 90.
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 (
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.
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.
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 (
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:
4. Draw the Cliffs
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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:
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
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.
For the arms, start out by
drawing a shallow, sideways V with the Pen
Tool—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
(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.)
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 >
Rotate 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.
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.
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
Tool without worrying too much about creating perfect shapes; most of the
scarf will be covered up by the hair.
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.
arrange the two shapes together, you can unite them into one by selecting Window > Pathfinder > Unite;
even out any lumpy spots with the Smooth
Tool (access it with a click-hold of the Pencil Tool).
The color of brown I’m using for
both the hair and boots is
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.
Now we’ll work on the crown of
- 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
smooth 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.
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.
6. Arrange the Typography
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”.
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
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.
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
in. 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
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.
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
Script 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,
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.)
7. Set Up in Photoshop
Now it’s time to add some texture
to our illustration. Open a new Photoshop document with the same specifications as your
Download the paper texture if you
haven’t already. Place it in your document and size it to fill the whole
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!
With your smart object selected,
go to Layer > Layer Style >
Blending Options and select Hard
Light 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.
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.
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:
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 category).
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.
Remember, you can always erase
anything you don’t like.
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.
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.
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
Last but not least, add a little
shading to your tourist, and then admire your finished creation!
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