I’m back this week with a veritable masterpiece! All right I’ll tone it down a bit… But really I’ve got an awesome tutorial in store for you, one in which I hope a lot of people will take part. How to Create a Subtle Grunge Typographic Poster.
So you brought us here, what’s up?
What’s up is an awesome typographic poster below. SAY WHAT?!
The image above is what we’re aiming for by the end of this tut.
Inspiration for this poster came from a lot of places but primarily from the couple of pieces below :
Let’s get to it
Before we start I have to take the time to properly distinguish the fonts used in this design. Fonts without which I couldn’t have pulled this off. Here is the list and links of the fonts used :
First step is to open up Illustrator. Choose a document to your liking as this doesn’t represent a crucial step in the tutorial. FYI I used an A4 format print document just to have the aspect ratio I was going for.
When we look at the overall design in Illustrator we can clearly identify the most technically challenging steps and thus the increased amount of time to reproduce. I started working from the center and outwards on to the borders of the design. I had no prior sketch for this design, which is why the fiddling to obtain something that looked good took a reasonable amount of time in my case.
You guessed it we’ll be starting with the main and most imposing piece of the design. I hope you’ve already grabbed the Fag Hag Black font by Petra Ojala, and if you haven’t then all is lost and I can’t allow you to continue viewing this tutorial… Just kidding of course! Grab the font, write the world hell in lowercase, give it a font size of 140pt, give it a fill color of #ED2524, a stroke color of white, a stroke width of 1pt, align the stroke to the center of the shape in the stroke window and all will be well for this 3rd step.
Let’s now expand the object by clicking on the tab Object->Expand Appearance and duplicate it by using the keyboard shortcuts [Ctrl + C] and [Ctrl +F]. Now with the freshly pasted object still selected, we’re going to offset the path by clicking on the tab Effect->Path->offset Path and giving it a 6pt offset setting without changing the other parameters. Now send it backwards in the stacking order by Right clicking on the shape and select Arrange->Send Backwards. Lastly give it a linear Horizontal gradient using a darker shade of red with the following hex value #560F0F on the left side and a lighter shade of red using the following hex value #ED2524 on the right.
Nudge the underlying object to the right and align it with the overlying object as depicted in the picture.
To create that striped effect we’re going to need to make some lines. You guessed it, we’re gonna need the Line Segment Tool. Now create a line segment that’s at least 500pt in length and with angle of 33°. This, by the way, isn’t some random angle, it’s the closest value I could come up with to align it correctly with the font’s angle. Now give it a stroke width of 1pt and a stroke color of #560F0F. Expand the object’s appearance allowing us to work with a full blown shape and not a simple stroke.
Using the Blend Tool, we’re going to create a multitude of strands. Duplicate the strand we’ve just created by pressing on [Ctrl + C] and [Ctrl +F] and move it a certain distance to the right of the Art Board. Now click on the tab Object->Blend->Blend Options. In the dialogue box choose Specified Distance with a 2pt interval.
All that’s left now is to duplicate the first text object initially created with our famous [Ctrl + C] and [Ctrl +F] shortcut. Grab the “strands” object and place it in front of the newly created copy of our text object by right clicking on it and choosing Arrange->Bring to Front. With both objects now selected, use the Pathfinder Tool and click on Minus Front. Final step here is to nudge it slightly to the left as shown on the picture. Be sure to make sure that the “Strands” object is neatly positioned in between the two previously created text objects.
All right that’s a good start! How about we draw us up a nice satanic symbol, Muahahaha! No seriously I was looking for some inspiration concerning the various ornaments to use in this design and typed satanic symbols in Google. Check out the symbol I came upon. Well you probably guessed what I did afterwards. I just vulgarly traced this shape to include it as an ornament to decorate our Hellish piece of text. Nothing too complex here.
Grab the newly created object, give it a stroke width of 1pt and a stroke color of #560F0F. Next duplicate the object and place them as seen on the picture. use the Alignment Panel to your liking for a precise alignment with each other and the text objects.
Let’s now take care of the rounded text elements by drawing a nice oval with the Oval Tool, logically enough. Next grab the Type on a Path Tool and, well, type on path. In this case being the oval we just created. Position the text on the center top edge and give it the awesome Elevant font with a font size of 48pt and a Tracking of 300.
For the bottom text just copy the object we created in step 11 and adjust it accordingly.
Before moving onto the ornaments decorating the text objects, we need to pause for a moment and take care of the couple of custom brushes used later on. Above are the shapes I’ve used to create the brushes. Nothing too complex here, just use the Blend Tool as we’ve done with the “strands” to create the shapes seen above.
Once you’ve got the shapes, it’s time to make the brushes. Select the final group of object that you’d like to turn into a brush and, using the Brush Palette, click on New Brush. Select New Art Brush in the window that’s opened, name it whatever you’d like, check the orientation and make sure it’s correct, then click on OK. Repeat this process for the other brush we want to create and that’s it!
Let’s get started on the various ornaments surrounding our text elements. With the Spiral Tool and the Pen Tool, create a simple stroke as depicted on the picture above. Give it a stroke color of #560F0F and a stroke width of 1pt.
Duplicate the stroke just created and reflect it by right clicking on it and choosing Transform->Reflect. On the dialog box that will come up, select Vertical and press OK.
For this step just repeat the processes mentioned in the two previous steps and adjust for the subtle variances seen in the picture example.
Let’s put one of those brushes we created earlier to good use! Draw a stroke following the flow of the original stroke on the top and give it the according brush style. Give it the same stroke color as the other strokes and a width of 0.5pt. Now just duplicate it, reflect it and position it correctly.
For the bottom strokes draw a simple curved stroke, again following the flow of it’s “parent element”, and give it a dashed stroke appearance. Use a stroke width of 0.5pt and 4pt gaps.
This design is a lazy designer’s dream. Symmetry obviously takes a big part in this design and allows us to cut some shortcuts. All you’ve got to do for the bottom text element is copy the ornaments we’ve just created, reflect them and position them accordingly, roughly keeping the same spacing as in the previous steps.
We’re making good progress here and we’ll continue by taking car of the top most and bottom most text elements next. Using the Eccentric font write “if” in lower case, give it the same color as the rest of the strokes and a font size of 36pt. Align it to the center of the design as shown on the picture.
Draw a stroke of 0.2pt in width, the same col as always and give it the Tapered Stroke brush appearance found in the default brush styles. Now just duplicate it and position opposite to the one freshly created.
Recreate the three shapes seen above and accurately align them with the stroke. Having Smart Guides turned on here is very useful.
Duplicate the shapes and align them with the stroke on the Left. You could just take care of one ornament and duplicate it entirely. It’s up to you and your workflow really.
For the bottom text element, and this famous quote’s author, we’ll just duplicate all the elements created at the top and paste them here. Type “Winston Churchill”, give it a font size of 14pt and a Tracking value of 300. You’ll have to reduce the size of the strokes a bit to cope with the new text element’s width.
Cool, so we’re done with all the text elements and all we need to take care of now are the outside border elements. Above is an illustration of the creation process for the center top and bottom shapes. I just created a simple circle and altered a few anchor points with the Direct Selection Tool. All that was left was to duplicate them twice, reduce their size, alter their rotation and position them on each side of the main element. By the way, the fill color is of the following hex value: #A51E22
Once the shapes are created, duplicate them and paste a copy on the bottom.
For the remaining corner border elements, we’ll be focusing primarily on one of the corners and then we’ll duplicate them three times to place them on the remaining three corners. I told you this was a design for the laziest of all of us. Anyways just create a stroke as seen on the picture, give it the same stroke color as the others and a stroke width of 1pt.
Create two simple ovals and place them on the top right edge of the stroke. Obviously give them the same fill color as the stroke color used on the underlying stroke.
Snatch a copy of the shapes used on the design ornaments next to the top most text elements, and place them on the bottom left edge of the stroke created in step 28. Or you can just take a quick glance at the picture above and ignore the gibberish stated directly above this sentence…
Remember that other custom brush we created in step 14? well that’s where she comes in handy. Draw a simple stroke following the curvature of the one directly above and give it that custom brush style. Also be sure to give it a stroke width of 0.5pt
As promised earlier, all that’s left now is to create three copies of the ornaments created, rotate them as necessary and place them accordingly. We’re done with Illustrator, and with this tut entirely for that matter. YAY! Good job guys, give yourselves a pat on the back, grab some coffee and let’s finish this thing.
Open up Photoshop and create a new document. I chose an A4 document format to have the same aspect ratio as the Illustrator file, but all of this is really up to you and your desired dimensions. The fact that it’s a fully vectorized file gives us a lot of flexibility.
Let’s head on over to Lost & Taken, one of the best web resource concerning textures of all kinds, and snatch us a copy of a nice subtle grunge texture. The one I picked is #23 or, to make things easier, the third from last in the list. Once you’ve grabbed a copy simply paste it in Photoshop and adjust it’s dimensions to fully fill the canvas.
Let’s adjust the shadows of the texture to roughen up the overall contrast. Create a Curves Adjustment Layer and apply it on ly to the underlying texture layer simply by clicking on the separation of the two while holding down the [Alt] key. Then in the Input Shadow field, give it a value of roughly 145, this will move the left arrow to the right sufficiently to have the effect we’re looking for.
All right, now let’s import our Illustrator design into Photoshop by simply copying and pasting all the elements in our Photoshop document. Be sure to choose Smart Object in the dialogue box that will open, and click on OK.
The final step in this tut, yep, we’re already finished, is to roughen up the appearance of our smart object by applying some subtle grunge touches using these Subtle Grunge Brushes from Media Loot. Create a Vector Mask on the Smart Object’s layer and apply some subtle touches to recreate a bit of a used look on our vector Object. The advantage of using a vector mask is that we can can keep the entire Smart Object intact and therefore optimize our Photoshop file for further modifications.
Well there you have it!
The wonderful part about this technique is it’s flexibility. You can drastically alter the overall outcome of the design simply by editing the general stroke width on all ornaments used. I kept it really thin because of the minimalistic look I was going for and the emphasis I was trying to put on the word “Hell”. You can even try some different backgrounds in Photoshop and get some interesting effects as well. Here is the same design with a subtle repeating background :
I actually like the high contrast of the red on the white texture used in this version. What do you think?
This concludes our tutorial. Below is a zip file containing the source Illustrator file as well as the Final Photoshop document. Make sure you follow the “Terms and conditions” in order for all files distributed on this site.
I truly hope you enjoyed this tut and I’d love to hear your thoughts and possibly see what you guys came up with. So don’t be shy and share your experience with the rest of us. Till then keep on designing!