In this walk-through, we’ll show you how this gig poster for an indie band we made up, Up In The Clouds, was created. The idea was to create a graphic representation of the band’s name.
We start off by tracing the image of a little girl. We’d recommend that you use a drawing tablet as it gives you more control over your strokes. It’s also a good idea to work with a larger image so that you can see and trace the details better.
After selecting the Brush tool (B), hit (F5) to bring up the brush options palette and set the control for Size Jitter in the Shape Dynamics option to “Pen pressure”.
With this option selected, your strokes will have more “character” and you’ll rarely need to change the brush size while drawing. Just press harder for a thicker stroke, or lighter for a finer one.
Depending on the image and your desired results, you may choose any brush size you prefer. For this project, I used a 6px hard round brush throughout.
Create a new layer above the girl layer and fill it with white, then lower the opacity to 30%. This makes it easier to trace the image.
Create another layer above the white layer and name it “Lines”. This is where all the brush strokes will go.
It might take a little time to get used to it, but once you’re familiar with how the pen pressure works, you’ll be finishing up in no time.
Using a little observation and imagination, add in the lower half of the girl.
Here’s the final line art.
Next, create a new A4 sized canvas at 300dpi, drag the line art layer of the girl into the new working document, re-size (Ctrl / Cmd + T) according to preference and name the layer “Girl”.
After that, in a new layer under the “Girl” layer, use the Lasso tool (L) to roughly go around the outlines of the girl.
You don’t have to be overly precise, try to keep it rough. But of course, you can add or delete parts of the selection where needed.
Once that’s done, fill the selection with #FFEFD0, then deselect it (Ctrl / Cmd + D). Name this layer “Skin”.
Creating another new layer above “Skin”, make a rough selection along the outlines of the girl’s dress as well.
We’re going to apply a halftone effect on the dress. Inverse the selection (Ctrl / Cmd + Shift + I) and press (Q) to enter Quick mask mode.
Go to Filter > Pixelate > Color halftone, enter 25 px for Max. Radius, and leave the other settings at default (108/162/90/45).
Tap (Q) again to exit Quick mask mode, and inverse the selection (Ctrl / Cmd + Shift + I) one more time, then fill it up with #B9E1FF. After deselecting it, name this layer “Dress”.
To keep things a little more organized, move the “Girl”, “Skin” and “Dress” layers (in their respective order) into a group folder and name it “Girl”.
Now for the clouds. Open the cloud vectors in Illustrator.
Copy (Ctrl / Cmd + C) and paste (Ctrl / Cmd + V) the pattern we want to as a Path into the working document in Photoshop.
Use the Path selection tool (A) to move the paths to the desired location, and then use the Transform tool (Ctrl / Cmd + T) to resize it according to preference. Hit Enter to apply the transformation. This will be the main cloud that she’s going to be sitting on.
Create a new layer above the “Girl” group folder , name it “Clouds 1” and select it. Pick #282B53 as the foreground color, then right click on the path and choose “Fill path”, or click the “Fill path with foreground color” option.
Next, we’ll make some more clouds and place them behind the girl. Duplicate the main cloud paths. Select the path with the Path selection tool (A). Copy and paste two more cloud paths. Resize them (Ctrl / Cmd + T) and position them at the girl’s back, stomach area, and legs.
Create a new layer named “Clouds 2” under the “Girl” group folder and select it. Use the Path Selection Tool (A) to select the two clouds at the girl’s back and legs by holding down Shift. Then right click and select Fill Path with #282B53.
Select the Brush tool (B), set the size to 5 px, and select the cloud path around her stomach area. With your foreground color still set to #282B53, right click on the path and select Stroke Subpaths. Apply it with the Simulate Pressure box unticked.
Once done, delete the path layers.
Moving on, create a new layer above “Clouds 1” and name it “Flowers”. Select the Custom shape tool (U) and pick Flower 5 from the menu.
Holding Shift, click and drag to place a large main flower near her hand, and a few smaller ones around it.
Set #E92845 as the foreground color, select the “Flowers” layer, then right click on your path and select “Fill path”. After that, set the Layer blending mode of “Flowers” to Multiply.
Trace the swallow in the same way as we did for the girl.
Move the finished line art into the very top layer of the working document and flip it horizontally. Resize it (Ctrl / Cmd + T) and place it next to the girl. Name the layer “Swallow”.
Double click “Swallow” to bring out the Layer Style options and give it a Gradient Overlay with these settings.
Set the layer’s Opacity to 70%.
Once the placements are confirmed, select and link all the graphic layers so that they can be moved around together easily.
Shrink the graphic slightly to create more space all around, and move it a little towards the top to allow room for text below.
Use a guide line to align the graphic to the middle of the canvas.
In a centered text paragraph, type in the band name, “Up In The Clouds”, with a font size of 58 pt, and 19 for tracking. And as for “with Special Guests”, 35 pt font size and 40 for tracking. We set a 38 pt leading in between them.
Use Rockwell Extra Bold at 20pt and type in the date and venue with a leading of 30pt from the band names. Align them to the middle of the canvas and clear the guide line.
To make the end result more interesting, add a texture to the top of all layers.
Transform (Ctrl / Cmd + T) it to fit the canvas and set its Layer blending mode to Multiply.
Bring up the Hue/Saturation option (Ctrl / Cmd + U) and desaturate it to -30.
We’re now going to give the poster a printed, worn-out look.
Save a copy of the layered PSD file as a back up before flattening it. Use the Smart sharpen filter (Filter > Sharpen > Smart Sharpen) and key in these settings.
And with this gig, Up In The Clouds rises even closer to the stratosphere of stardom. Let’s hope that they don’t forget us once they’ve made it to the top!