How to Create a Gritty Poster in Photoshop

In the following tutorial we are going to walk you through the steps in creating a real gritty looking poster that looks great for hard hitting sports like football and wrestling.

Here is what the final result will look like.

Final Photo

To start out with get your photo and crop it to the size you want to make your poster. In our example we have cropped our wrestling photo to a 16×20.

Original Photo

If the original photo doesn’t already have some grain already in it you will want to apply a decent amount. Normally you would want to get rid of most of the noise out of your photos but we want to make our poster look real gritty. You can add grain by selecting Filter/Texture/Grain. This will give you the dialogue box where you can play with the settings to get the amount you like. Our original photo already has plenty in it so we don’t need to add anymore.

The next step is to add some contrast to our photo. Add a levels adjustment layer on top of your photo layer.

Levels Window

All we are doing here is adjusting the light and dark areas to accentuate them. Depending on the photo you are using you may need to bring the levels in further or not as far.

Now add a Hue & Saturation adjustment layer. The only thing we are going to do on this adjustment is bring the saturation down a bit to tone down any vibrant colors your photo may have.

HS 1

Now we are going to create another Hue & Saturation adjustment layer. This time make sure the Colorize button is checked and bring the hue value down so it has an orage tint to it. Bring the saturation down as well to make the orange look more brown. Now click OK.

HS 2

We need to bring the opacity of this last Hue & Saturation layer down from 100% to something around 50%

HS Layer Opacity

Go ahead and add a new text layer with some text that you would like to use on your poster.

Adding Text

Add a new layer style to your text layer and give it a bit of bevel.

Bevel and Emboss

Now let’s add a little more dimension to the text by adding a gradient over the top. To do this set your foreground color to white and background color to black. Now select the gradient tool and set it to use the foreground to background colors and change the type to the radial gradient. Create a new blank layer above your text layer and drag your cursor from near the center of your text to about a quarter of the way to the center of your image and let go. Don’t be alarmed if you just see the gradient. You need to clip the layer you created the gradient on to your text layer so that the only part of the gradient that shows is where the text layer is. To do this hold down the alt key and place your cursor in between the gradient layer and text layer. The cursor should change it’s icon to a small arrow and two circles on overlapping the other. When you see this icon left click and it will clip your gradient layer to the text layer.

Clipping Layer

Let’s create a modified lens vignette. Grab your brush tool and select black as the color. Make sure your brush is a really big soft brush. For my image I’m using a brush with a 1800 pixel diameter and 0% hardness. All you want to do is paint out the edges of the image to darken them up so that the focus is on your main athlete. Sometimes I will create multiple layers so I can adjust the opacity of one over the other layers. There is no secret just do what you like.

Darkened Border

Now comes the finishing touches. You need to go and get some grunge brushes for Photoshop. There is a great website where you can download a bunch of free grunge brushes at photoshopbrushes.com.

Once you have downloaded and imported them into Photoshop set your foreground color to white and try a few of them out. Depending on the size of your image you may need to increase the size of the brush to achieve the look you want. For our poster I would make the size around 900 pixels. You don’t need to do too much with the grunge brushes, usually it only takes four or five clicks using various brushes to get enough. Just like when you were creating the dark border around the edge you may want to place one grunge brush stroke on one layer and another on a different layer. You can then rotate individual brush strokes to give it some variety. If you really wanted to get fancy you could even create layer masks and mask out portions of each layer.

Once you have finished painting with the grunge brushes you are done and left with a great looking poster!

Final Photo2

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