How to Create a Retro-Poster

I’ve had some feedback on how I create some of my graphics. I am by no means an expert on Photoshop, quite the contrary. But I’m having fun with photomontages and they are a good start for a novice like me who is not a professional graphic designer.

Here is my process:

1. Find an iconic image in the public domain to Photoshop without paying a licensing fee, or buy one from or


2. Remove the background with magic extractor or quick selection tools. I removed the blue sky in the following photo this way.


3. Insert other layers to add other images.

4. Choose a retro-styled font for the title and sub-titles. I used B321- Art Deco for these posters. Play around with drop shadows and ’emboss’ to get the effect you want. In ‘Diesel Power’, I used Image>Perspective to put the title on the wall in the background.

5. Blend images over one another by using transparency tools. This is how I created the focal point with the original colors for the ‘Rosie the Riveter’ worker and added in the ‘neon’ effect of the objects around her.

6. Erase unwanted areas using ‘eraser’; duplicate areas or fix flaws using ‘clone tool’.

7. Use special effects to get that retro-look. I duplicate layers and play with one, keeping the original in case I mess up and have to go back. Special FX renders that work well for achieving a retro-look are: posterization, spotlight lighting, inverting(turning to a negative, use for layers underneath the primary one), sepia or faded sunlight filters, linear burn.

8. Choose a retro-color scheme that suits the image. For ‘Dieselpunk’, I chose burnt oranges and browns; for “Diesel Power’ I chose steel grays, neon blues.

Here are the finished results:



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Post by Charles A Cornell

As an author, my overactive imagination fills my mind with three dimensional puzzles of stacked what-if questions that cry out for answers. You can find me fueling my creativity amidst the chaos of a very busy life in my writer’s den where I dream up whimsical adventures that range from the satirical to the macabre which I then blog about on

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