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How to Use Grids in Photoshop to Create a Typographic Poster

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial, we will create a powerful typographic poster by using grids. We will also learn to use layer masks and adjustment layers to edit images. Are you ready to get started?

What You Will Need

You'll need access to Adobe Photoshop. If you don't have the software, you can download a trial from the Adobe website. You'll also need the following resources:

Download the images and install the font, and you are ready to start! 

1. Setting Up a New Photoshop File

Step 1

In Photoshop, go to File > New. Name the document Snowboarding PosterSet 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

Press Command-R to bring up the rules around the document. Head over to View > New Guide. On the New Guide option window, select Horizontal and set the guide to 70 px. Click OK.

Do the same for the other sides of the document by subtracting 70 px from the final size. To activate and deactivate the guides, press Command-;.

Create margins around the document

Step 3

For this poster, we will create a 5:3 grid (width x height). This means that we will divide the poster vertically into five sections and horizontally into three sections. Experimenting with grids is a great way to create an unusual layout.

Head over to View > New Guide. In the New Guide option window, select Vertical and set the guide to 254 px. Click OK. 

Let’s set the vertical guides to 254 px, 508 px, 762 px, and 1016 px. Click OK.

Let’s set the horizontal guides to 533 px and 1066 px. Click OK.

Create a 53 grid on the document

Step 4

On the Layers panel, click on Create a new Fill or Adjustment Layer > Solid Color.  Select a black color in the Color Picker option window. Click OK.

Add a solid color fill layer

2. How to Edit the Ski Slopes Image

Step 1

Drag the Ski slopes image into the Snowboarding Poster document.

Press Command-T to Transform. Head over to the control bar and activate the Maintain Aspect Ratio button. Set the Width and Height to 75%. Press Enter to proceed. Don’t worry about the placement—we will play with that later.

Drag the ski slopes image and resize

Step 2

Activate the guides by pressing Command-;. On the toolbar, select the Marquee Tool (M). Select the first two columns from the left. Use the guides for this.

On the Layers panel, make sure you are selecting the Ski slopes image. Click on the Add Layer Mask button. 

Using the marquee tool select create a layer mask on the left side of the poster

Step 3

On the Layers panel, click on the link button between the thumbnails. This will unlink the image from the layer mask. This is useful when you want to keep the position of the layer mask but want to move the image. 

Make sure you are selecting the smart object thumbnail and not the layer mask. Using the Move Tool (V), move the image anywhere you desire. In the image below, I want the slope details to be concentrated in the middle section. I know I want to add text to the top and bottom on the slopes, so I'll try to leave these two sections as clean as possible. 

Unlink the image from the layer mask and move

Step 4

To neutralize the image, we’ll add an Adjustment Layer. This is helpful when we are using multiple images in a poster where the colors don’t go together. 

On the Layers panel, click on Create a New Fill or Adjustment Layer > Black & White. 

Add a Black  White adjustment layer

Step 5

Select the new Black & White adjustment layer, and Right Click > Create Clipping Mask.

The shortcut for this is: hold down Option, hover over the layer until the arrow pointing down appears, and click. A clipping mask is useful when we want to apply a Fill Layer or Adjustment Layer only to the layer below. This way, we won’t compromise the rest of the poster. 

Create a clipping mask with the Black  White adjustment layer

Step 6

To open the Properties panel, click on the Layer Thumbnail. On the Properties panel, move the color stoppers to tweak the color intensity. This particular image is composed of blues and cyans. Feel free to play with these.

Alter the blue and cyan colors on the property panel

Step 7

To keep the layers tidy, select the ski slope layer and the Adjustment Layer. Drag these two layers towards the Create New Group button. Double click on the Group 1 folder to change the name; I renamed it Slopes

Create a new group consisting of the slopes layer and the adjustment layer

3. How to Edit the Snowboarder Image

Step 1

Open the Snowboarder image in Photoshop. Make sure you are not dragging it into the document. We need to open it separately. 

Click on the Layer Mask button to create a new Layer Mask.

Open the snowboarder image separately and add a layer mask

Step 2

Let’s start by working on the sky section. Make sure you have the Layer Mask selected.

On the toolbar, select the Magic Wand Tool (W) and select the sky portion of the image. Hold down Shift to add to the selection. Once you’ve selected all of the sky, press Command-I to Inverse the selection. Press Command-D to deselect.

Using the Magic Wand Tool delete the sky off the image

Step 3

Press \ to activate the red overlay; this will make it easier to see what parts of the image still need work. 

Select the Brush Tool (B). Right click on the document, and set the Size to 500 px and the Hardness to 0. Press [ to decrease and ] to increase the Brush Size. Set the Fill color to black and start brushing the snow off the photo. 

Using the Brush Tool delete the bottom part of the image

Step 4

On the Layers panel, select the Layer Mask thumbnail and Right Click > Refine Mask. 

In the Refine Mask option window, we can change the View Mode. I have On Black (B) selected. Set the Radius to 7.5 px, Feather to 0.5 px, and Shift Edge to -25%. Click OK. 

Clean up the image by using the Refine Mask option

Step 5

Right click on the layer and select Duplicate Layer. Name the layer snowboarder and set the Destination to Snowboarding poster.

Duplicate the layer onto the original photoshop document

Step 6

Switch back to the Snowboarding poster. Select the Snowboarder layer, and press Command-T to Transform. Head to the control bar, and activate the Maintain Aspect Ratio button. Set the Width and Height to 40%. Press Enter to proceed. 

While grids are used for creating order in a poster, they are also used for breaking rules. By doing so, we are creating something that is different. A great way to break the grid is to place the snowboarder image on a grid guide. Move the image to the bottom left side of the poster, as shown in the image below. 

Transform the snowboarder image

Step 7

On the Layers panel, click on Create a New Fill or Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation. Repeat this action, but this time add a Brightness/Contrast layer.

To create a Clipping Mask, select both Adjustment Layers and Right Click > Create Clipping Mask.

Add a HueSaturation and a BrightnessContrast adjustment layer Create clipping masks with these two new layers

Step 8

Click on the Brightness/Contrast thumbnail layer. This will bring up the Properties panel. Set the Brightness to 36 and the Contrast to -4.

Click on the Hue/Saturation layer thumbnail to bring up the Properties panel. Here, we can alter the color of the whole image or specific colors. For this tutorial, we will tweak the colors separately. Click on the Master dropdown menu, select Red, and set the Hue to +25. This time, select the Yellow option and set the Saturation to -100. Select the Cyan option and set the Hue to +35.

Tweak options of the adjustment layers on the properties panel

Step 9

You will notice that the gloves, beanie and face of the snowboarder are blue. We can fix this by working on the Layer Mask. 

Select the Layer Mask on the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. Select the Brush Tool (B). Right click on the document, and set the Size to 100 px and Hardness to 0. Brush over the winter hat, face, and gloves. Perfect!

Select the snowboarder and the two adjustment layers. Drag these three layers to the Group button. Rename the group Snowboarder.

Using the brush tool brush off the beanie face and gloves on the layer mask

4. How to Add Text

Step 1

On the Tools panel, select the Text Tool (T). I used white text to contrast with the background. 

The typeface I used is Schmalfette.

Bring up the Tools panel by going to Type > Panels > Character Panel. Below are the details I added, with the type size and specific font weight on separate layers.

    (Schmalfette, Regular, Size: 100 pt, 80 pt and 200 pt,Tracking: 100 pt, Leading: play with the leading options as it will be different for each line).
  • 02

    (Schmalfette, Regular, Size: 180 pt and 50 pt, Tracking: 100 pt. I altered the scale of the em-dash to fit the width of the numbers. You can do this by using the Horizontal Scale on the Characters panel).

Place these two text blurbs at the top and bottom on the left side of the poster.

Using the Text Tool add text

Step 2

Let’s add text to the black background. Using the Text Tool (T), add JOIE DE VIE. On the Characters panel, set the Size to 630 pt and Leading to 505 pt, and set the color to #eb5d08. On the control bar, activate the Right Align Text button. Place the text on the right side of the poster. 

On the Layers panel, move the layer between the Snowbarder and Ski slopes groups. This is so that the snowboarder is over the letters, adding dimension. 

Add the headline text on the right side

Step 3

Let’s add strokes between the words. On the toolbar, select the Line Tool (U). Head over to the control bar and set the Stroke color to #eb5d08 and 3 pt. Set the Width to 665 px and the Height to 5 px. 

Hold Option-Shift and drag the stroke to multiply. Place both strokes between the words. On the Layers panel, move the strokes under the Snowboarder group.

Add stroke lines in between the words on the headline text

5. How to Save a 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 file

Congratulations! You’ve Finished This Tutorial!

In this tutorial, we’ve learned to use grids to create a powerful typographic poster. While grids are used for creating clean and neat posters, they are also made to be broken! Be sure to post your poster in the comments below! 

Today, we've learned to:

  • Use grids to create order and to create a unique poster.
  • Use grids to break composition rules.
  • Use Layer Masks to clean up images and refine them using the Refine Mask option.
  • Use Adjustment Layers to neutralize and change the color of an image.

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