Do you like vintage boxing posters? In this tutorial, you'll learn how to create a boxing poster in Photoshop. We'll take a look at some basic graphic design principles and cast an eye over the boxing poster aesthetic from yesteryear.
Creating a retro look is nothing new, but there are some things to keep an eye out for when mimicking graphic design from any decades past. We'll be drawing inspiration from poster design from the 1960s, particularly boxing posters from that era. Let's get started!
If you looking for ready-to-print old-time boxing poster templates, take a look at this amazing fight poster template from Envato Elements. This old-school boxing poster template is a fully editable PSD file with fully editable colors, fonts, and text. All you need to do is adjust it to your taste, add your text, and print it!
What You'll Learn in This Tutorial on How to Create a Boxing Poster
- How to create a background for a boxing poster template
- How to add the fighters to a fight flyer template
- How to add colorful elements to a vintage boxing poster
- How to add text to a vintage boxing poster Photoshop template
- How to age the boxing poster
To complete this tutorial, you'll need the following assets:
- Free Paper Texture, PNG Shape and Grunge Overlay, which I created for this tutorial
- Athletic African Fighter Demonstrating Classical Boxing Stance
- Sporty Man During Boxing Exercise. Photo of Boxer on White Background
1. How to Create a Background for a Boxing Poster Template
As with any design project, you'll need to decide upon the medium which will carry your message. We'll keep it simple by creating an A3 canvas. Keep in mind that if you're designing for printing on paper or canvas, you will more than likely need to set a bleed and/or slug area. This usually ranges from about 3 to 5 mm.
It's very good practice to sketch out a few ideas before sitting in front of the computer. I know the computer allows for limitless experimentation, but this doesn't necessarily help you find the best solution, and it can lead to a lot of wasted time without finding a clear outcome.
Of course, for this type of project, we'll need an old paper texture. Find one that you like on Envato Elements, or get this free old paper texture that I created for this tutorial! Import the paper into your working document and resize it to fit.
As the paper stock is from the 1960s (not really, but that's what we're aiming for), it wouldn't look quite this ancient, so add a couple of Adjustment Layers to sort it out. I used a Levels (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels) with the settings which you can see below:
And then I used Hue/Saturation (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation).
It's worth organizing your layers palette as you go along, so select all of your Layers and Group them.
2. How to Add to a Fight Flyer Template
Now we can start building up the poster design based on the original sketch. This speeds up the process, but don't feel locked into your initial sketch. If you get a better idea once you're at the computer, then go for it.
I got two boxer photos from Envato Elements—you'll need to grab them or take your own photos.
Back in the 60s, there were no fancy computers loaded up with expensive software, so everything was hand-rendered (cut-and-paste). To honor this, do a rough cutout of your two fighters using the Pen Tool, trying to emulate how you'd cut them out by hand.
Paste them into the working document and resize them to fit the composition. Balance up the fighters tonally by adjusting the Levels (they need to be similarly exposed), and then Desaturate (Image > Adjustments > Desaturate) both layers.
Finally, set the Layer Blending Mode of both layers to Multiply and create a New Group.
3. How to Add Colorful Elements to a Vintage Boxing Poster
Go to View > Rulers and turn them on. Drag two guides down from the top ruler area and two from the side. I've pulled the first horizontal guide to 224 mm and the next to 305 mm. I pulled the two vertical guides to 146.6 mm and 147 mm.
Select the Rectangle Tool and set it to Shape Layers instead of Paths. Set the foreground color to
#e45050 and draw two rectangles as shown. It is best to use less saturated colors as very vibrant colors would not have been printable. Then set their Layer Blending Modes to Multiply.
Select the rectangle on the left and go to Edit > Free Transform and set the V to 10.10. Repeat the process for the other rectangle.
We'll now use the rectangles to mask off the areas of "Boxer 1" and "Boxer 2" that we don't need. Select "Boxer 1" and add a Layer Mask.
Then Control-Click on the left-hand rectangle thumbnail to make a selection from it. Working on the "Boxer 1" Layer Mask, simply fill the selection with black. Repeat this process for "Boxer 2".
Back before printing made its modern advances, printing wasn't as accurate and the plates used to make up different colors could—and frequently did—misalign to create overlaps or spaces. We'll mimic this by unlinking the "Boxer 1" and "Boxer 2" Layer Masks (click the chain link icon between the Layer Thumbnail and Layer Mask thumbnail) and shifting the Layer Masks down using the Move Tool.
4. How to Add Text to a Vintage Boxing Poster Photoshop Template
Now it's time to start building up our text. Block capitals were popular at the time and were often overused. They kept things neat and were easier to set. They also have more authority than lower case and suit the nature of the medium and the sport it advertises.
Select the Type Tool and click on the canvas. Type in the text shown, or make up your own names if it's more fun. I've used BentonSans, which is a modern take on the sans serif font with some classic touches, or you can find a font on Envato Elements. The first name should be smaller than the surname—set it up as shown.
Use a Condensed version of the same font to contrast with the first name, making it appear grander. Make the surname about 2.5 times larger than the first name. Open up the Tracking to about 25 and set the Kerning to Metrics.
Rotate the text to match the rectangles you drew; 10.1 degrees should do it. Typesetting in the 1960s wasn't nearly as accurate as you can do using a computer today. To get an uneven effect, we can play with the Kerning by positioning the Text Tool between characters. Slightly adjust the Kerning between a couple of letters to make it imprecise. Follow the same process for the opponent's name.
In the same Condensed font, write "Champion" and "Challenger" on new layers. They should be smaller than the first names of the boxers—I've made them 32.37 pt compared to 44.31 for the first names and 101.53 for the surname.
We'll make a little feature of the "VS" Text by putting it in a circular flash that breaks out of the rectangles. Use the Ellipse Tool (located behind the Rectangle Tool) set to Shape Layers to draw a colored circle. Use the same red as you did for the rectangles. Control-Click on the "CIRCLE" Layer thumbnail to create a selection and go to Select > Modify > Expand. Expand this by 20 pixels or so.
Select one of your "RECTANGLE" Layer Mask thumbnails and fill your loaded selection with black. Do the same for the other "RECTANGLE" shape layer.
A hallmark of the 1960s boxing poster is the claim that the fight is not available on home TVs. So draw a black (
#0b0c0c, not quite solid black) Circular Shape layer and stack some text on it. Set the circular shape layer's Blend Mode to Multiply. The text would usually be justified centrally to a definitive width, using character size and width to sure up the sides as opposed to increasing the kerning or tracking.
Draw a rectangular shape layer at the top of the poster and set the Layer Blend Mode to Multiply. Use the same black as for the "NO HOME TV" flash.
Draw a red one at the bottom and set it to Multiply. Now add Layer Masks to all of your Rectangular Shape layers.
Select all the layers, Group them, and Add a Layer Mask. After that, place the Paper Shape PNG and create a selection of it by Control-clicking while selecting the layer's mask. After that, go to Selection > Inverse and fill the mask with Black Color.
It's now time to start building up the titles. The posters themselves usually serve up some sensationalism, often billing fights as The Greatest the World has ever seen or other such nonsensical claims. We'll carry on using Benton (or whichever Sans Serif font you've gone with) for all the informational text.
To really beef up your text, try adding a Stroke Layer Style (Layer > Layer Style > Stroke) to the text. This does soften the edges and slightly decrease legibility, so I wouldn't recommend doing this for a contemporary poster design.
I've added a sponsor to show how to work a title and tagline or standfirst. In this case, the tagline is a motto directly linked with the fictional "Grill" of which "Big Al" is the proprietor. The general rule is to use two contrasting types, with the title being bigger than the tag, but these rules are constantly being bent.
Try using accent fonts to break up the very square-looking block capitals. It's usually not best practice to use an accent font similar to your body font, so select a Serif or Block-serif to do the job. The whole point of an accent font is to contrast with but complement your body font.
I've chosen URW Antiqua, which is a good display font. Display fonts are less concerned with legibility and more with using type combined with negative space to form relationships between words and images. Getting a strong grasp of typography is massively important in graphic design.
When working with display type, don't be scared to manipulate the font's characteristics to suit your needs. I'm still using Benton (BentonSansCond Black for "Fracas" and "Caracas," and BentonSansExtraComp Bold for "The" and "In"), but I've increased the vertical scale to create maximum impact.
I can't increase the width of the poster, nor do I want to double-stack the text. So to maximize the impact of the title working within a tight space, I increased the Vertical Scale to 116%. I also scaled down the words "the" and "in" and adjusted the Baseline Shift so they sit between the important words. I also needed to shift the boxers down a touch—again, don't be scared to nudge elements around until they work well together.
Create a Layer Group called "TICKET/VENUE INFO." Drag in two vertical guides to mark off the boundaries of where we want the information to go. Making it full-width would detract too much from the title and boxer names.
Add some footer text to sit on the red rectangle at the foot of the poster. Now we've got a clear and definite space to fill with all the venue and ticket information. In this space, the date also needs to go in. You need to organize the information in terms of importance. I'm going to prioritize the date and the venue.
Drag two horizontal guides from the ruler running across the top to mark your text boundaries. Start building up the date text—note that each part of the text is on its own layer to allow for maximum flexibility. This is a fair example of display text working with the negative space and letterforms to create a more visually dynamic date. Use the Line Tool to draw a 14 px line next to the date.
This area is in danger of becoming very square, with dense block capitals. To break up this area, use a more graphic font, in this case a script font called Bello. Don't hesitate to move and transform the whole group of text layers to fit your composition.
There are more ways to avoid an impenetrable clump of block text. Use font weights and vertical/horizontal scaling to your advantage. Highlight important bits of information by making them very large and using a heavy weight. You could spend a lot of time balancing up this section, but it's good enough for now.
Now that the layout elements are complete, zoom out and look at the composition as a whole. We're going for a 1960s aesthetic, so it's OK if things don't line up perfectly. Go to Layer > Rasterize > All Layers. Then systematically apply all the Layer Masks by selecting each one in turn and going to Layer > Layer Masks > Apply.
5. How to Age the Boxing Poster
With the composition complete, we'll begin degrading the image and applying a fake 1960s print finish to it. This is where it gets a little fiddly. Select all of the black shape layers and black text layers and merge them. Call the resulting layer "Black Text". Do the same for all layers containing white text and call it "White Text."
Do the same for the layers containing red text, and finally the same for all red shape layers.
Your Layers panel should resemble mine:
Apply a 4 pixel Gaussian Blur to "Red Text," "White Text," and "Black Text."
Then apply a Smart Sharpen at 386% with a 44 radius. This process softens the text edges and makes the text look as if the ink has been absorbed into the paper a little more. You will need to reapply color
#e45050 to "Red Text" as the sharpening has destroyed the color.
Turn the "WHITE TEXT" layer visibility off. Then Control-Click on its layer thumbnail to make a selection. Select "Black Text" and Delete the selection. Then do the same on "Red Shapes."
Select "Red Shapes" and apply a 4 pixel Gaussian Blur to it. Then run a Smart Sharpen filter as shown below:
Run a second Smart Sharpen with a much bigger Pixel Radius. This gives the impression that ink has gathered at the edges of the print.
Select all the layers except for the "Background" group or the "Background" layer itself. Merge the layers and change the Layer Blend Mode to Multiply. After that, make the "Background" layer Invisible, and then select all the layers and Right Click > Merge.
You are now ready to add a grunge effect in your favored way. Let's place the Grunge Texture from our free pack and change its Blend Mode to Soft Light. Then Right Click > Create a Clipping Mask on the texture layer.
And now, for the final step of creating our boxing poster PSD template, add a Levels Adjustment layer and play with it until you get the result you like! Here are my settings:
Awesome Work, You're Now Done!
Today you've learned how to create an old-school boxing poster template. I hope you enjoyed the tutorial, and here is our final image:
5 Premium Boxing Flyer Templates From Envato Elements
Need an old-time boxing poster or wrestling flyer template for your next sporting event? Then check out the amazing selection over on Envato Elements. Subscribe to unlock access to thousands of resources for one monthly fee!
Create a night to remember with this awesome fight poster template. This template features a retro design in a convenient A4 Photoshop file. Simply update the photo and text to enjoy this flyer in a matter of minutes!
Retro Boxing Tournament (PSD)
This amazing wrestling flyer template will be a great addition to your collection of flyer templates! Create a fight poster with a retro-inspired look in a few clicks!
Boxing Match (PSD)
Out of all the fight posters and boxing templates, I really love this one. Its clean and simple layout with a retro feel will suit almost any boxing event! Just change the text and photos, and it's ready to print!
Boxing Flyer (AI, EPS, PNG)
Create a fight poster with this amazing template full of bold colors and contrasting elements! The vintage style with a cool illustration of red gloves will draw all the eyes to your event!
Boxing Match Flyer (PSD)
This boxing poster PSD template is a great choice if you're a fan of a vintage but minimalistic style. Create a boxing poster which fits your needs just by changing the text and adjusting the colors!
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