Designing a Retro Flyer with Photoshop

Written ByIrene ThompsoninNews

Designing a Retro Flyer with Photoshop

Creating retro designs is pretty easy when you’re using Adobe Photoshop. Here, you will learn how to do this yourself based on a primary image. We will start with setting up a proper print-ready design then proceed to image processing and finish with the right design details for our flyer. Let’s get started.


Open Photoshop and create a new document (CTRL+N). Now, in the window that opens, you will need to setup the flyer dimensions. The values depend on the size and orientation of the flyer that you need. For this tutorial, we will be using these settings.

a.     Width: 8.5 inches

b.     Height: 5.5 inches

c.     Resolution: 300ppi

d.     Color Mode: CMYK

retro flyer 1


The next step is to add margins and guidelines. We first add our margins. Go to View -> New Guide…  Once the window opens, you can set the guideline that you want to create. You will need to enter its orientation and then the distance from the edges. We will create four. Here are the precise values you should enter for each.

a.     Left Margin: Vertical – 0.125 inches

b.     Right Margin: Vertical – 8.375 inches

c.     Top Margin: Horizontal – 0.125 inches

d.     Bottom Margin: Horizontal – 5.375 inches

retro flyer 2 300x188


We then add an additional guideline set for the bleeds. Simply create four more guidelines using these values.

a.     Left Margin: Vertical – 0 inches

b.     Right Margin: Vertical – 8.5 inches

c.     Top Margin: Horizontal – 0 inches

d.     Bottom Margin: Horizontal – 5.5 inches

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Finally, to make the bleeds visible, go to Image -> Canvass Size… add 0.25 inches to the width and height values. Also make sure that the center anchor is selected. This should add the bleed space uniformly on the edges of our flyer. Bleeds ensure that color covers the entire flyer with absolutely no undesirable white space when printed.

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This sets up our flyer template correctly. Make sure to save this document now so that you have a good base to start with.

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Great! Now we enter our flyer image. Just copy-paste it in. Remember to press CTRL+T to properly scale them to size. Hold down the shift key as you resize them to maintain their proportion. For our example, we are using this very impactful image here (We position it slightly off center to integrate our design.

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Now, we create a new layer by pressing CTRL+SHIFT+N. Using the clone stamp tool, we clone the background and fill out the missing pieces of our image. First select the main image and hold the ALT key as you click on an area of the background. Then, select the new layer and then start painting, left to right inscribing the background as you go along.

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Continue doing this until you have the whole design filled out with the appropriate background.

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Next, using the rectangle shape tool we create three color strips for a design accent.

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Next, with all the rectangles selected, we press CTRL+T. We then rotate the strips diagonally like so.

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Now, we merge all three layers by selecting them, right clicking on them and then selecting the option “merge layers” in the context menu.

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With the strip layer selected click on the “create layer mask” icon. Then using a soft black brush, “erase” part of the strip where the face is covered. This should reveal our face.

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We then change the blend mode of the strips to “Color Burn” and reduce its opacity to 30%.

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Then, we repeat the stripe process several times. Create a few more rectangle stripes again, change their blend mode to color burn and then set their opacity at various levels. Also take note that you can do the same trick of using a layer mask to erase part of the ribbon that is over our model. Just be creative at their placement.

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Great! Now we add in our title text. Here we are using a bit of a creative style font from

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We now add a few shape accents. Using some built in custom shapes we add a decorative accent on top of our title.  Just select the custom shape tool in the tools panel and then choose the custom shape from the shape gallery on top in the options bar.

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Next, duplicate the shape by pressing CTRL+J. Move it to the bottom of the title. Then press CTRL+T to begin transforming it. Right click on the transformation box to bring up its context menu. Select “flip vertical” to turn the shape upside down.  This gives us the bottom accent of the title.

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Then, we just add the rest of our text. We vary their colors a bit to make certain words stand out. It also gives a nice readable contrast to the details.

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Now, for the final effect. We create a new layer again by pressing CTRL+SHIFT+N. Using a large and soft brush we pain up different color spots across our image like so.

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Then, we change the blend mode of our color spots layer to “Overlay”. This adds the subtle burned color variation to our design.

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We now have a nice retro-style print-ready flyer. You may use the same technique to design retro print-ready postcards or posters, simply alter the dimensions. Good luck!

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