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Create a Colorful Aged Poster With Special Lighting Effects

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to use texture and adjustment layers to create an aging effect on a colorful abstract poster design.

Materials Needed:

What we’ll be making

For a full size preview, click here.

Final Image Preview

Step 1: Create a new Photoshop Document

Create a new Photoshop Document

Open Photoshop and create a new document (Ctrl/Cmd + N). Fill the background with a dark grey (#191919).

Step 2: Create the Dark Background

Open the blending options of the background level and set a gradient overlay. Alternatively, you could create a new Gradient Fill layer. Use the default Black-to-white gradient set to 30% opacity, reversed, and set to Radial Gradient.

Create the Dark Background

I prefer to create a gradient in this way because then I could change it without problems.

Create the Dark Background

Set your foreground color to white, and your background color to black. Create a new layer and go to Filter -> Render -> Clouds. Press Ctrl/Cmd + L to open the level adjustments and make the image darker. Set the highlight output level in this dialog box to around 180. Finally, set the layer to “Soft Light” and reduce the opacity of the layer to 60%.

Create the Dark Background

Step 3: Creating the First Triangle

Select the Polygon Shape Tool, and from the options bar, set the Sides value equal to 3. Create a black triangle while holding the Shift key (This places the triangle at an easy to modify angle—Photoshop by default will place a triangle in increments of 45 degrees, but will let you adjust the angle using the transform tool in easy increments of 15 degrees). When placed, the initial angle does not matter so long as you held shift. Once you’ve placed your triangle, use Free Transform Path (Control + T)

and rotate your triangle while holding shift until it is flipped base side flat down:

Creating the First Triangle

Step 4: Style the First Triangle

First, reduce the fill opacity (located in Blending Options under Advanced Blending) to 0%. We’re going to add an Outer Glow and a Gradient Overlay.

Outer Glow: set the Blend Mode to Color Dodge, increase the opacity to 80%, set the color option to white and increase the size to 80px.

Style the First Triangle

Gradient Overlay: set the Blend Mode to Color and select the gradient called “Dark Spectrum”. Change the angle to -45° and reduce the scale to 70%.

Style the First Triangle

You should get something like this:

Style the First Triangle

Step 5: Creating the Second Triangle

Now, duplicate the triangle layer and, pressing Ctrl/Cmd + T, reduce its dimension. Place the triangle in the middle of the first triangle. Try to center the triangle to the best of your ability.

Creating the Second Triangle

Step 6: Style the Second Triangle

We’ll change the layer style of the triangle to make it a bit darker; so, increase the fill opacity to 60%. Double click on the layer to open the layer style, and disable the Gradient Overlay. Then, change the Opacity of the Outer Glow to 100%.

Style the Second Triangle

You should get something like this:

Style the Second Triangle

Step 7: Creating the Third Triangle

Now, create a new white triangle smaller than the previous, and flip it vertically. Set the layer to Overlay.

Creating the Third Triangle

Step 8: Style the Third Triangle

Finally, apply an Outer Glow to the shape.

Style the Third Triangle

You should have something like this:

Style the Third Triangle

Step 9: Light Effects

Now, create a new group and set it to Color Dodge. It’s essential working within the group to have the desired effect. Create a new layer in the group, and make a rectangular selection a littler larger than the outside triangle. Using a soft, white brush, brush along the top edge of the selection. Disable the selection. If any edges from the rectangle selection are defined from your brushing, use a soft eraser tool to fade them out.

Light Effects

Duplicate two times the layer with the first light, rotate them and place to the corners of the triangle.

Light Effects

Finally, on a new layer, create some particles with a white brush. David Leggett has explained how to build a simple particle brush in his Fireworks Tutorial if you’re not familiar with the concept.

Light Effects

Step 10: Creating Birds

Download and import the brushes of 123freevectors in Photoshop. On a new layer outside the group, create some birds of different sizes using a black brush.

Creating Birds

Step 11: Create the Light on Top

Create a new black layer, then go to Filter -> Render -> Lens Flare and try to place the light at the top center of the document.

Create the Light on Top

After, go to Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur and use a value of 2px. Finally, set the layer to “Screen”.

Create the Light on Top

Step 12: Apply the Texture

Download and import into the document the texture of Bashcorpo. Resize it to fit the document and go to Image -> Adjustment -> Invert or press Ctrl/Cmd + I. Set also the texture on Screen.

Apply the Texture

Step 13: Create the Clouds over the Triangle

Create a selection of the large Triangle shape layer (Ctrl + Click the layer thumbnail for this layer). Create a new layer and go to Filter -> Render -> Clouds. Set the layer to Overlay with a opacity of 65%.

Step 14: Adding two Gradient Maps

Go to Image -> Adjustment -> Gradient Map and create a gradient using two colors (#290a59 – #ff7c00). Set the Blend Mode of the layer to Color and Opacity to 20%.

Adding two Gradient Maps

Create another Gradient Map (#000000 – #FFFFFF) and set it to Luminosity: so you can accentuate the contrast of the image.

Adding two Gradient Maps

Step 15: Add a Photo Filter Adjustment Layer

Add a new Photo Filter adjustment layer and use the settings from the following image.

Image Description

Step 16: Making the Image Sharper

Now we’ll use the Sharpen filter to make the image sharper. So, create a new layer above all the other ones. Then go to Image -> Apply Image and click OK. Finally go to Filter -> Sharpen -> Sharpen.

Making the Image Sharper

Final Image

Open the full size image by clicking the preview below.

Final Image Preview


  1. Add point Subtract point
    beau (3 Points) May 4, 2011 at 7:53 am

    i’m stuck on step 9. i’ve followed the brief explanation; but i can’t manage to create the glowing light effect like that in the tut. mine just looks like i used the brush tool to draw a line :S

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  2. Add point Subtract point

    step 14 in on new layers ? or on this triangle clouds layer ?

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  3. Add point Subtract point
    Idris Mansoor (1 Point) February 23, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    If you can’t find brushes etc or gradients always look for ‘append’ this will add further brushes, gradients etc …

    Geat tut … love it … so much you can do with colours etc

    : )

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  4. Add point Subtract point
    Stephanie Smith (1 Point) February 18, 2011 at 3:57 am

    Really good tutorial, seems easy to follow. Haven’t had a go yet, but will have to try it soon! I have been working with Photoshop for about five years on and off, however I’m still learning something new every day. This image looks great, a really professional look and a clear post. Thanks.

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  5. Add point Subtract point
    PepeManzanares (2 Points) February 7, 2011 at 2:07 am

    Muy bien tutorial :D, lo hise y me encanto el resultado :) Gracias!

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  6. Add point Subtract point

    Ignore that last comment, found it :)

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  7. Add point Subtract point

    Loving the tutorial but am a bit stuck on step 14 with the gradient maps. How do i apply them to the whole image? I tried creating a new layer on top of everything and put it on that but because it’s empty it won’t let me, what layer do i need to apply the gradient map to?

    Thanks :D

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    RedKoala (0 Points) January 21, 2011 at 7:43 am

    This looks awesome, didn’t open my photoshop, but I can’t wait to do it.
    Very creative :)

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  9. Add point Subtract point
    Roberto Blake (2 Points) January 15, 2011 at 10:02 am

    This is an amazing tutorial, I can’t wait to try this out, thanks for such a great post.

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  10. Add point Subtract point
    ความรู้ SEO (1 Point) January 12, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Thanks For Good tutorial

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  11. Add point Subtract point

    EASY tutorial but also amazing.

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  12. Add point Subtract point

    Photoshop Free Step by Step Tutorials

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  13. Add point Subtract point
    Lawrencent (1 Point) January 3, 2011 at 3:57 am

    i just done it, wow…was a great n nice tutorial

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  14. Add point Subtract point

    really nice tut. couldn´t resist to do it myself.
    well, it´s 4 am in the morning but it was worth it ^^

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  15. Add point Subtract point

    Just who dosnt have “Dark Spectrum” ?

    I use Photoshop CS5

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  16. Add point Subtract point

    Really nice tutorial, final image is great!

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  17. Add point Subtract point

    This is an awesome tutorial! I would also agree… lens flare seemed to be used so much, that we all hated it. However, this tutorial used it very well. Great tutorial!

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  18. Add point Subtract point

    Final image is awesome! Great tutorial, thanks

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  19. Add point Subtract point

    I’m not sure when I last used the lens flare and thought to myself, “Yeah, that was a great idea.” You seem to have used it really well here though.

    Nicely done! Some of the explanations are a bit short, but it seems easy enough to follow along.

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  20. Add point Subtract point

    Probably the best use of a lens flair I have seen in a while ha! Thanks for sharing

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  21. Add point Subtract point
    Giacomo Colddesign (3 Points) December 13, 2010 at 10:42 am

    This is a really amazing tutorial.. thanks for sharing!!

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  22. Add point Subtract point
    Texnologia (1 Point) December 13, 2010 at 10:34 am

    Wow the final image is so epic! I followed the tut on photoshop, very good explanation!

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