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How to Create a Vintage Movie Text Effect in Adobe InDesign

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This post is part of a series called Retro Text Effect Tutorials.
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This post is part of a series called Text Effects in Adobe InDesign.
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What You'll Be Creating

Have 15 minutes to spare? This super-quick and high-impact effect gives any text an instant dose of vintage movie magic. 

We’ll create the effect in InDesign, and the text remains editable, so it’s easy to tweak the type formatting afterwards.

If you want to make your design really unique, you can easily switch up the font to create a very different look. Head over to GraphicRiver or Envato Elements to source perfect fonts for your next project. Or use this fabulous list of stylish vintage fonts:

Let’s go!

What You’ll Need to Create Your Effect

As well as access to Adobe InDesign, you’ll also need:

1. How to Create a Cinematic Backdrop for Your Text Effect

Step 1

Open up InDesign and go to File > New > Document. Create a document at any size. Here, I’ve set the page to A3 Landscape. Then click OK

Expand the Layers panel (Window > Layers) and rename Layer 1 as Background. Create three new layers in this order: Type, Highlight, and Overlay.

layer optionslayer optionslayer options

Then lock all layers except Background, which we’ll work on first. 

Step 2

Expand the Swatches panel (Window > Color > Swatches) and create three new CMYK swatches:

  • Pale Grey: C=13 M=9 Y=10 K=0
  • Slate: C=68 M=58 Y=55 K=63
  • Rich Black: C=87 M=76 Y=62 K=95
rich blackrich blackrich black

Step 3

Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and drag across the whole page, setting the Fill to your new Rich Black swatch.

black shapeblack shapeblack shape

With the shape selected, head up to Object > Effects > Gradient Feather. Apply a Linear gradient, with an approximate -130 Degree angle, allowing for a diagonal gradient effect. Click OK

gradient feathergradient feathergradient feather

Step 4

Edit > Copy and Edit > Paste in Place the rectangle. Adjust the Fill of this second shape to Slate

Head up to Object > Effects > Gradient Feather, as before, and adjust the Type of the gradient to Radial, allowing the color to lighten towards the center of the page. Click OK.

gradient feathergradient feathergradient feather

2. How to Create Your Movie Typography

Step 1

Lock the Background layer and unlock the layer above, Type

Create a text frame across the center of the page, and type in your text. From the Character panel (Window > Type & Tables > Character) or the top Controls panel, set the Font to Day Poster Black, or your font of choice. 

From the Swatches panel, set the Font Color to Pale Grey. Edit > Copy the text frame. We’ll need to paste in another copy of this a little later.


Step 2

With the text frame selected, go to Object > Effects > Drop Shadow. Switch the Effect Color to Rich Black for a deep, inky shadow.

Set the Opacity to 100% and add 15% Noise. Tweak the other options slightly until you are happy with the shadow.

drop shadowdrop shadowdrop shadow

Click on Inner Shadow in the window’s left-hand menu. Bring the Opacity down to around 40%, set the Choke to about 30%, and add around 7% Noise. Ensure the inner shadow falls in the same direction as your drop shadow.

inner shadowinner shadowinner shadow

Finally, click on Inner Glow in the left-hand menu. With the Opacity set to about 10%, bring up the Choke to 60% and the Noise to 50%, and set the Source to Center

Then click OK to exit the window. 

inner glowinner glowinner glow

Step 3

Edit > Paste in Place the text frame you copied earlier (see Step 1). 

Unlock the Highlight layer.

Expand the Type layer, select this new text frame, and drag it up to sit inside the Highlight layer. Then lock the Type layer. 

text frametext frametext frame

From the Swatches panel, set the Stroke Color of the text (you can switch to this by clicking on the ‘T’ symbol sitting behind at the top-left corner of the panel) to [Paper].

From the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke), increase the Weight of the text’s white stroke to 3 pt. 

stroke weightstroke weightstroke weight

Step 4

With the text frame selected, go to Object > Effects > Drop Shadow, and apply a 45% Opacity shadow, setting the Effect Color to Rich Black. Add about 15% Noise. 

drop shadowdrop shadowdrop shadow

Click on Bevel and Emboss in the window’s left-hand menu. Set the Style to Inner Bevel and Technique to Chisel Hard, and bring the Depth and Opacity of both the Highlight and Shadow to 100%. 

inner bevelinner bevelinner bevel

Click OK to exit the window, and view your text effect so far.

text effecttext effecttext effect

3. How to Apply an Authentic Vintage Texture to Your Effect

Step 1

Lock the Highlight layer and unlock the top layer, Overlay

Create an image frame across the whole page using the Rectangle Frame Tool (F). Go to File > Place and navigate to one of the image textures from the texture pack you downloaded earlier. 

Click Open, allowing it to fill the whole frame. 


Step 2

Go to Object > Effects > Transparency, and set the Mode to Soft Light. Click OK.

soft lightsoft lightsoft light


Your text effect is finished—awesome work! This is a really characterful effect, which is great for adding vintage flair to posters or flyers. 

You can find more fantastic fonts for creating type effects over on GraphicRiver and Envato Elements.

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