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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Poster Design
Design

How to Create a 90s Abstract Rave Poster in Adobe Photoshop

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:MediumLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial, you will learn how to create an abstract but impactful poster in Adobe Photoshop by using compelling imagery and typography. 

What You'll Need to Create This Poster

You’ll need to download the following image and font file from Envato Elements:

Install the font and you are ready to start! 

1. How to Set Up a New Photoshop File

Step 1

In Photoshop, go to File > New. Name the document Rave-Poster. Set the Width to 1270 px and Height to 1600 px. Set the Resolution to 72 Pixels/Inch. Click OK.

Create a new Photoshop file

Step 2

On the Layers panel, click on Create a New Fill or Adjustment Layer > Gradient. In the Gradient Fill window, select the Style to Linear and click on the Gradient swatch to set the colors. 

Under Presets, select the Foreground to Background preset. Under Gradient Type, set the left color stop swatch to #00a175 and the right color stop to #0500e8. Click OK.

Add a gradient fill layer with a linear style from color green to blue

2. How to Create the Lights Background Effect

Step 1

On the Layers panel, create a new layer by pressing Shift-Command-N. 

On the toolbar, select the Brush Tool (B). Right click to set the brush Size to 250 px and select a rounded brush with Hardness of 0. 

Create a new layer and select the brush tool

Step 2

Using the color codes below, create single brush stamps by clicking on the document. 

  • Orange: #ff6600
  • Magenta: #ff00df
  • Red: #ff0055
Using the brush tool use the colors orange magenta and red and create brush stamps over the new layer

Step 3

While selecting the same layer, head over to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur. In the Motion Blur window, check the Preview box. Set the Angle to -50 and the Distance to 1500 Pixels. Click OK.

Feel free to experiment with the settings as changing the angle and the distance will result in different outcomes. 

Apply a motion blur filter on the brush stamps to create a light effect

Step 4

You can repeat this section as many times you like. Try making the brush size smaller or larger or choosing different colors. I added another layer with the same colors to add more dimension. 

Repeat the action as many times youd like to create a dynamic background

3. How to Create the Dust Effect

Step 1

To create the dust effect, we need to create something similar to the steps above. Create a new layer on the Layers panel by pressing Shift-Command-N. 

Select the Brush Tool (B) and set the Foreground color to #aeaeae. Right click to set the Brush options. Set the Size to 500 px and the Hardness to 100%. Brush over the centre of the page. 

Create a new layer and using the brush tool and a color grey brush over the layer

Step 2

While selecting the layer with the brush stroke, head over to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur. Depending on the Distance we set, we will either get a blur that is barely there or one that maintains the original shape we started with. I will maintain the Angle of -50 and set the Distance to 531. Click OK. 

Apply the motion blur filter

Step 3

To create the dust effect, head over to Filter > Noise > Add Noise. Here, we can set the coarseness of the particles. We can always lower the opacity later to create a "barely there" look. Check the Preview box to see what the result will be. I will set the Amount to 180% and the Distribution to Uniform. Click OK.

On the Layers panel, select the dust particle layer and lower the Opacity to 35%.

Apply a noise filter on the same layer to create the particles and lower the opacity of the layer

4. How to Edit a Visually Interesting Image

Step 1

Open the Scenic view of ruins and bronze statue in ancient Pompeii city from Envato Elements in Photoshop. 

On the Layers panel, double click on the Background layer to unlock it. The New Layer window option will open—rename the layer Statue. Click OK.

Open the statue image from Envato Elements in Photoshop and unlock the layer

Step 2

On the Layers panel, add a Layer Mask to the Statue layer. 

Add a layer mask to the statue image

Step 3

Using the Brush Tool (B), set the foreground color to black. Start by brushing over the outside of the statue—in this case, we want to maintain only the statue to use on the Rave-Poster file.

Use the backlash (\) key to see the parts that have been masked out. 

Mask out the image leaving only the face of the statue

Step 4

Let’s crop the image to be easily manageable on the Rave-Poster file. On the toolbar, select the Crop Tool (C) and crop the image to just around the statue. Press Enter to proceed. 

Crop the image to just around the statue

Step 5

On the toolbar, right click on the Statue layer and select Duplicate Layer. Under Destination > Document, choose the Rave-poster file. Click OK.

Duplicate the layer onto the rave-poster file

Step 6

Head over to the Rave-Poster file. We need to resize and rotate the image. Select the Statue layer and press Command-T to Transform. Head over to the Option bar, and activate the Maintain Aspect Ratio button. Set the Width and Height to 45% and the Rotation to -45 degrees.

Resize and rotate the image

Step 7

The advantage of working with Layer Masks is that we can hide and show parts of them without completely deleting them. In this case, I want to refine the statue by only keeping the face and masking out the neck area. Select the Layer Mask on the Statue layer and, using the Brush Tool (B) and black as a foreground color, start brushing the parts off. There is no right or wrong. 

Here you can also hide the edges of the photo that are easy to miss when using Layer Masks and duplicating images. 

Refine the masking on the statue image

Step 8

Select the Statue layer, not the layer mask linked to it. Head over to Filter > Distort > Wave. In the Wave settings window, set the Type to Square, which means that the effect will divide the image into squares. Set the Number of Generators to 20, the Wavelength to Min. 817 and Max. 818, Amplitude to Min. 1 and Max. 2, and finally the Scale to 100% both Horizontal and Vertical. Click OK.

If the dust layer is covered by the statue, feel free to enlarge it or move it around so it is visible. 

Apply the wave filter onto the statue layer

Step 9

In some cases, images don’t exactly match the color of the background we are working with, and it's necessary to find a way to make the image neutral. In this case, we will convert it to Black and White. On the Layers panel, click on Create a New Fill or Adjustment Layer > Black & White. 

Add a black and white adjustment layer

Step 10

If we want to have only the image in black and white, we will need to create a Clipping Mask. While holding down the Option key, hover between the Black & White Adjustment Layer and the layer below, and click once you see the arrow pointing down. A Clipping Mask will apply the Adjustment Layer only to the layer underneath.

Create a clipping mask on the black and white layer to be applied only on the statue image

Step 11

If the poster is looking somewhat dull, we can adjust the Brightness/Contrast. On the Layers panel, click on Create a New Fill or Adjustment Layer > Brightness/Contrast. On the Properties panel, we can adjust as much or as little as we want. There are advantages to tweaking Brightness/Contrast this way instead of Image > Adjustment. We can hide and show the layer and tweak with the Properties panel back and forth. 

Add an adjustment layer to tweak the brightness contrast of the overall file

5. How to Add Text and Use Stylistic Alternates

Step 1

On the toolbar, select the Type Tool (B) and add SHADES OF ELECTRO FESTIVAL. Using the Type > Panel > Characters panel, set the font to BW Stretch Black, set the Size to 140 pt, set the Leading 130 pt, and the Tracking to 40.

Add text using the type tool

Step 2

Bw Stretch includes extended features on some letters that expand the width dramatically. In order to access these, you need to keep the Characters panel open. You can also access it by going to Type > Panel > Characters Panel.

In this case, we will only use some of the alternates to fit the width of the poster. While on the text layer, select the letters H and A, head over to the Characters panel, and click the Stylistic Alternate button to use the alternate. Change the color of the text to white.

Using the characters panel activate the stylistic alternate button for the different letters

Step 3

I changed the alternates of some of the other letters. Feel free to put your own spin on it! 

It is up to you which letters youd like to change to stylistic alternates

Step 4

Add a few more details such as stages, bands, dates, website, and address. I added the text below, but feel free to create your own version! 

  • Berkley Danceclub
  • Stages
  • Funhouse — Disorder
  • Nouveau — Ozid
  • Thrill — DJ Kitoo
  • 04/OCT - 03/OCT/2018
  • WWW.WHD.COM
  • 23 CARLETON ST. 40933

To rotate the text, create a text layer and use the Transform Tool by pressing Command-T. Hover over a corner of the text, hold down Shift, and drag to have an even rotation. 

Add a few more text details to the poster to create a visually interesting composition You can rotate text with the transform tool

6. How to Save the File for Web

Head over to File > Save and save the file as you would normally. 

To save a JPEG file for web, head over to File > Save for Web or Shift-Option-Command-S. Select the file type you want to save the document in—I am choosing JPEG—and set 100 for Quality. Under Image Size, you can change the pixel size of the image if you have any size constraints. 

On the bottom left-hand side, you can see a preview of the size of the file. This is useful when there are size constraints on a website and you need to lower the quality or the size of the image. 

Click on Save … to choose the location in the new window, and click on Save again.

Save the image as a jpeg for web

Congratulations! You’ve Finished This Tutorial!

You've done great! In this tutorial, we've learned to:

  • Create an abstract poster but still have compelling imagery and typography.
  • Create a clipping mask with Adjustment Layers.
  • Use different Filters such as Motion Blur, Wave, and Noise.  
  • Use Stylistic Alternates when a typeface has extended features.

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