Photoshop tutorial: Create retro poster effects

Ollie Munden and Harriet Seed get shipshape with techniques for tattoo-style art, based on 50s rockabilly and navy motifs


This vintage-style poster is the result of the first-ever collaboration between Harriet ‘harrydrawspictures’ Seed, and Digital Arts regular Ollie ‘Mega’ Munden. “We wanted to create an image that would work seamlessly, even though generally our styles are quite different,” says Ollie.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Ollie took the lead when it came to hashing out a rough sketch, focusing mostly on the general layout and rough positioning of certain elements. Once Harriet gave her input, he then drew up the main character.

Meanwhile, Harriet began to design the type and other elements decorating the poster’s border. There was a lot of discussion about the final outline and once this was agreed, the final PSD file was handed over to Harriet to be coloured.

Step 1


To start with, Ollie opened an A3 document in Photoshop. Using found imagery, he constructed what is shown in the screenshot. You can create something similar by sourcing reference photography from the internet.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Useful tools at this stage are Free Transform for scaling elements (Cmd/Ctrl + T), the Lasso tool (L) for making selections, and the Pen tool (P) for cutting out photographic elements. Once Ollie had designed this he sent it on to Harriet and she began to work out the typography. Ollie then focused on the female character.

Step 2


Ollie printed out the design at A3, to draw comfortably on it. He made a simple pencil sketch of the outlines and suggested shading areas using tracing paper.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Advertisement. Article continues below

Step 3


Once Ollie had sketched out the outline of the girl, he removed the printout and retraced his pencil sketch with fine liner to give a much tighter-looking final drawing. He scanned his inked version in and using the levels palette (Cmd/Ctrl + L), adjusted the black and white balance to give himself a clean-looking image.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Step 4


At this stage Ollie added in some rough shading on a new layer to give him an idea of where the highlights and shading should go… this was mostly relevant to the hair.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Step 5


Ollie turned down the opacity of this layer to 20% – so it could be used as a guide – and created a new layer above it to paint on. Ollie used a brush with settings as shown in the screenshot to delicately shade in the hair area of the illustration. Having Shape Dynamics switched on in the Brush panel allows you to draw a line that goes from thick to thin.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Advertisement. Article continues below

Step 6


Ollie then gathered some reference for traditional tattoos. He wanted to add a full body covering on the girl, and included logos of his and Harriet’s names among them as hidden details.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Step 7


Ollie made another printout of the final cleaned-up lifework with new shaded hair.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Using tracing paper, he added the tattoo elements he wanted to include within the body of the girl. He then scanned it in and placed it into his main artwork file.

Step 8


Once the girl was complete, Ollie placed her with sketched typography he’d received from Harriet, and uploaded the layered file for her to continue working on. At this stage it looked like that shown above.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Advertisement. Article continues below

Step 9


When Ollie had finished the artwork of the girl, Harriet worked out the final layout. She made a very basic collage in Photoshop using cut and pasted photographic tattoo elements and shapes. She then printed this out to scale and drew by hand where she wanted everything else to go.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Step 10


Using layout paper and black ink pens, Harriet traced the linework and scanned it into Photoshop. She filled in the areas that needed to be black, and positioned Ollie’s artwork. She then deleted the black areas from behind the girl, and merged the two layers to create one black layer.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Step 11


As the theme of the poster was tattooed ladies, Harriet chose some circus-style type, inspired by her collection of books containing old Letraset fonts. She scanned the type in and scaled it up to size. She then printed out the lettering and drew it by hand, adding shadows and detailing.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Advertisement. Article continues below

Step 12


Harriet scanned in the type and positioned each letter using Edit > Transform > Rotate to place. You can use a guide or curve to make sure the lettering sits correctly on the page. Harriet then deleted areas of the black layer which were behind the type.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Step 13


When Harriet was happy with the layout, she printed out the black and white image. She likes to work out her colours on paper and used good old-fashioned felt tip pens to mark in where she wanted each colour to go.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Step 14


Harriet printed out the outline onto layout paper, one printout per colour. Using her felt-tip colour guide, she cut out the areas she wanted to colour with a scalpel. She then spray-mounted the stencil to heavy cartridge paper and rollered the areas using a high-contrast colour block print ink.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Advertisement. Article continues below

Step 15


Harriet then scanned in each colour. Using Select > Color Range, she copied and pasted the colour to the final image, adjusting the colour using Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation. She usually uses a Multiply blending mode to make her colours look like print on paper.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Step 16


Harriet then added the stars, skulls and ‘dead sea mob’ logo. She drew the tattoo skulls, scanned them in and deleted them from the black layer. You can cheat small areas of colour like dots and stars by copying and pasting the colour.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

About the artist: Ollie Munden and Harriet Seed


See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Ollie Munden

Ollie, who works under the moniker Megamunden, combines nature’s creatures, tattoo design, psychedelia, 80s skate graphics and an essence of the Far East to create his beautiful concoctions. As comfortable painting large-scale murals as he is illustrating for advertising or publishing, his drawings have been hard to escape over recent years. British Airways, Havaianas, Nike, Toshiba, Vodafone, Penguin and the New Scientist are just some that have fallen for his distinctive creations. Alongside commercial commissions, Ollie is finding more and more that he is being commissioned to design tattoos for private clients.


Harriet Seed

Harriet Seed is an illustrator from Brighton, also known as harrydrawspictures. She combines a low-tech stencilling technique with a little computer magic to create patterns and illustrations with a hand-crafted feel. She loves junk shops, folk art, royal commemorative ware and tattoos, among other things.


Advertisement. Article continues below