Photoshop Tutorial: The Essential Guide to Creating Vintage-Style Posters

by Annabelle Yeoh from 123RF

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Adding typography to your Vintage Poster

Now we'll add the most important element, the typography. How you format the text on your poster really has the power to change the whole mood of the design. There’s a huge range of vintage-style digital fonts available, each inspired by different periods and micro-styles. Look for retro-style slab serifs for poster titles, which look fantastic set in uppercase letters.

vintage posters Adobe InDesign

Once you have a period (e.g. 1950s) and place (e.g. California, US), Google poster designs from that time and place to get a sense of which type styles were more popular and heavily used.

This geometric font might not be a typical hand-written Fifties style, but the text has a movie-inspired look that just feels right for a California travel poster.

I download the vector and Copy/Paste the relevant letters over onto a new document.

vintage posters Adobe InDesign

I bring in a bit of sunny yellow into the header (in Illustrator, go to Select > Same > Fill Color to pinpoint a swatch, highlight it, and be able to adjust it), save it, and then File > Place it into my InDesign layout. Placed over the top of an off-black rectangle, the title really pops.

vintage posters Adobe InDesign

Look for more subtle retro typefaces for subtitles. You can find a range of classic fonts in your pre-loaded Adobe font library. Alternatively browse the 123RF library or free commercial-use font sites for retro- and vintage-inspired fonts. Here, I’ve opted for Aleo, a delicate slab serif which comes in a range of weights, to set the sub-heading (‘Visit the Golden State’).

vintage posters Adobe InDesign

Recreating vintage styles digitally allows you to bring a touch of nostalgic style to your designs. Balancing authentic-looking details with a strong visual design can be a challenge, but with this essential checklist to hand you’ll never be disappointed with the results. Let’s briefly review that checklist again...

  • Bring in aged, papery textures as a backdrop to your designs
  • Allow for a slim border around the edge of your poster
  • Opt for muted colors and avoid brights, neons and metallics for an authentic Fifties color palette
  • Build up layers of detail on your poster to create a balance of 2D and 3D elements
  • Simplify your illustrations, making them appear more stylized and hand-painted
  • Choose vintage-inspired typefaces to pull the poster design together and anchor the artwork in a particular time and place

Have you got any of your own tips for creating vintage-style poster art? We’d love to hear about them! Just drop us a quick note!

Thanks for reading . . .

      Annabelle Yeoh,
      Graphic Design & Photoshop Specialist

Special thanks go out to Annabelle Yeoh and 123RF in Hong Kong, for sending in this tutorial! 123RF is a royalty-free digital media library offering a wide variety of budget-friendly commercial and editorial images, video footage, audio clips, logo designs and illustrations.
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