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How to Create a Retro Boxing Poster in Photoshop

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What You'll Be Creating

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!

Boxing Match FlyerBoxing Match FlyerBoxing Match Flyer

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

Tutorial Assets

To complete this tutorial, you'll need the following assets:


1. How to Create a Background for a Boxing Poster Template

Step 1

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.

creating a new documentcreating a new documentcreating a new document

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.


Step 2

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.

placing free paper texture inside the documentplacing free paper texture inside the documentplacing free paper texture inside the document

Step 3

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:

adding levels adjustments layeradding levels adjustments layeradding levels adjustments layer

Step 4

And then I used Hue/Saturation (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation).

adding hue saturation adjustments layeradding hue saturation adjustments layeradding hue saturation adjustments layer

Step 5

It's worth organizing your layers palette as you go along, so select all of your Layers and Group them.

grouping the layersgrouping the layersgrouping the layers

2. How to Add to a Fight Flyer Template

Step 1

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.

cutting the figurescutting the figurescutting the figures

Step 2

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.

desaturationg the layersdesaturationg the layersdesaturationg the layers

Step 3

Finally, set the Layer Blending Mode of both layers to Multiply and create a New Group.

changing the blending mode and creating a groupchanging the blending mode and creating a groupchanging the blending mode and creating a group

3. How to Add Colorful Elements to a Vintage Boxing Poster

Step 1

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.

dragging the rullers dragging the rullers dragging the rullers

Step 2

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.

creating shapescreating shapescreating shapes

Step 3

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.

 transforming the shapes transforming the shapes transforming the shapes

Step 4

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.

adding layer masksadding layer masksadding layer masks

Step 5

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".

cutting out the layers maskcutting out the layers maskcutting out the layers mask

Step 6

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.

moving the layer maskmoving the layer maskmoving the layer mask

4. How to Add Text to a Vintage Boxing Poster Photoshop Template

Step 1

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.

creating first text layercreating first text layercreating first text layer

Step 2

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.

creating the second text layercreating the second text layercreating the second text layer

Step 3

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.

rotating the text rotating the text rotating the text

Step 4

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.

creating third text layercreating third text layercreating third text layer

Step 5

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.

creating a red circlecreating a red circlecreating a red circle

Step 6

Select one of your "RECTANGLE" Layer Mask thumbnails and fill your loaded selection with black. Do the same for the other "RECTANGLE" shape layer.

cutting the circlecutting the circlecutting the circle

Step 7

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.

no home tv signno home tv signno home tv sign

Step 8

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.

creating a rectangle layercreating a rectangle layercreating a rectangle layer

Step 9

Draw a red one at the bottom and set it to Multiply. Now add Layer Masks to all of your Rectangular Shape layers.

creating a red rectangle and adding masks to the layercreating a red rectangle and adding masks to the layercreating a red rectangle and adding masks to the layer

Step 10

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.

adding a paper shape to the layer maskadding a paper shape to the layer maskadding a paper shape to the layer mask

Step 11

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.

adding layer style to the textadding layer style to the textadding layer style to the text

Step 12

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.

creating title layerscreating title layerscreating title layers

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.

adding text layersadding text layersadding text layers

Step 13

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.

creating titlescreating titlescreating titles
creating small text elementscreating small text elementscreating small text elements

Step 14

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.

creating a new group and adding rullerscreating a new group and adding rullerscreating a new group and adding rullers

Step 15

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.

adding bottom textadding bottom textadding bottom text

Step 16

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.

creating the date blockcreating the date blockcreating the date block

Step 17

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.

adding text layer with new fontadding text layer with new fontadding text layer with new font

Step 18

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.

finishing the bottom part of the textfinishing the bottom part of the textfinishing the bottom part of the text

Step 19

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.

boxing poster full previewboxing poster full previewboxing poster full preview

5. How to Age the Boxing Poster

Step 1

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."

separating white layersseparating white layersseparating white layers

Do the same for the layers containing red text, and finally the same for all red shape layers.

separating red shapes and red textseparating red shapes and red textseparating red shapes and red text

Your Layers panel should resemble mine:

layers panel with separated layerslayers panel with separated layerslayers panel with separated layers

Step 2

Apply a 4 pixel Gaussian Blur to "Red Text," "White Text," and "Black Text."

adding gaussian blur effectadding gaussian blur effectadding gaussian blur effect

Step 3

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.

adding smart sharpen to the textadding smart sharpen to the textadding smart sharpen to the text

Step 4

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."

cutting out from the layerscutting out from the layerscutting out from the layers

Step 5

Select "Red Shapes" and apply a 4 pixel Gaussian Blur to it. Then run a Smart Sharpen filter as shown below:

adding smart sharpen to the shapesadding smart sharpen to the shapesadding smart sharpen to the shapes

Step 6

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.

adding second smart sharp filter to the shapesadding second smart sharp filter to the shapesadding second smart sharp filter to the shapes

Step 7

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.

merging the layersmerging the layersmerging the layers

Step 8

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.

applying grunge texture overlayapplying grunge texture overlayapplying grunge texture overlay

Step 9

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:

adding adjustment layeradding adjustment layeradding adjustment layer

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:

final boxing posterfinal boxing posterfinal boxing poster

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!

Fight Night Flyer Template (PSD)

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!

Fight Night Flyer Template V4Fight Night Flyer Template V4Fight Night Flyer Template V4

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!

Retro boxing tournamentRetro boxing tournamentRetro boxing tournament

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 MatchBoxing MatchBoxing Match

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 FlyerBoxing FlyerBoxing Flyer

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!

Boxing Match FlyerBoxing Match FlyerBoxing Match Flyer

If you enjoyed our collection of fight posters and boxing templates, but you still want to learn more about creating your own designs, check out these amazing tutorials:

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