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Design a Stylish Retro Game Boy Poster in Photoshop

This tutorial will walk you through the process of creating a vector Nintendo Gameboy in Illustrator and then using it to produce a cool retro poster in Photoshop.

Materials Needed:

Step 1: Setting Up The Illustrator Document

Please note that if you don’t have Illustrator, or simply don’t want to use it, you can download the Vector Gameboy at the bottom of the screen! You can place the .AI file straight into Photoshop!

Retro Gameboy Poster

Head over to Adobe Illustrator and open a new Web Document – This will automatically set the document to RGB at a suitable resolution/dpi. The size of the document doesn’t really matter because the outcome will be a vector image, meaning it’ll be scalable. I used an 800x600px document set to portrait.

Download the Gameboy stock photo from SXC.hu and place it into your document. You can do this by going to File > Place and then locating your image. Lower the opacity of your gameboy and lock the layer.

TIP: Double-Clicking the Layer…

To save some time when lowering the opacity and locking the layer, try double clicking on the layer to bring up a layers option menu. This allows you lock the layer and dim all images on the layer with just a few clicks!

Step 2: Tracing Using Various Tools

Retro Gameboy Poster

Make a new layer and select the Pen Tool. It’s time to start the tracing. With 1px black stroke selected, trace round the main shape of the gameboy.

Retro Gameboy Poster

Carry on tracing some main shapes of the object until you have something like you see above. Remember you’re not limited to using the Pen Tool, try other
tools such as the Ellipse Tool and Rounded Rectangle Tool. You can also Copy & Paste some items to make sure they’re the same, such as the select, start, A & B buttons.

Retro Gameboy Poster

Fill in a few of the not so bold areas, such as the grooves at the top of the Gameboy using a thinner 0.5px stroked line.

TIP: Holding the Shift Key

If you come across neat corners or straight lines, try holding down the shift key when working with the Pen Tool. It can sometimes save a lot of frustration.

Step 3: Adding Some Retro Type

Retro Gameboy Poster

Install the font ‘G.B.Boot’ if you don’t already have it (you can find the link at the top of the page). It’s not the exact same as the original Gameboy font, but will do. Fill in the few areas of text that are required, such as Nintendo GAME BOY, Select, Start, A and B. I also filled in the text above the Gameboys screen: ‘dot matrix with stereo sound’.

To get the right text size you just need to experiment. You might find you need to Create Outlines of the text by going to Type > Create Outlines before you can rotate the type into place. When the outlines are created, you can also resize the text, as well as stretching it, without losing any quality.

Step 4: Adding Colour Using The Eyedropper Tool

Retro Gameboy Poster

It’s time to add some colour to our game boy, which should be looking pretty cool. The colors here are up to you, but I’m going to stick with original color scheme as was used on the gameboy in the stock photo we used earlier. You can get your stock photo up so it’s side by side with your new vector game boy, which makes it easier to select colors using the Eyedropper Tool.

Select the outer stroke of your game boy (the first line we did) and fill it with a grey. You can remove the stroke, we won’t be needing it! Do the same with the screens border, the screen and the buttons, obviously using there own specific colors. I also added a red light next to the screen, which I’m sure most people will know means the Game boy is switched on.

Step 5: Adding Grooves Using Gradients

Retro Gameboy Poster

The main shape of our gameboy is looking pretty good, but very flat. To make it look a little more 3D we should add some shadows: the easiest way to do this is by adding gradients and custom shapes. With the stock image still showing, trace over some of the ellipses that can be seen beneath the buttons and move them into place on our vector image.

Retro Gameboy Poster

Select one of your new shapes and delete the stroke. Open the Gradient window by going to Window > Gradient. Select two colors similar to the one you used as your game boy background to give it a shadowed look – try experimenting with both Linear and Radial gradients. The best way to get this right is by looking back at the stock photo to see what direction the light source is coming from. Once one gradient is done, repeat the process on the others. 

Another thing to do to make the game boy more realistic is to set your new gradients to different blending modes. Open the Transparency window by going to Window > Transparency. Different blending modes do different things depending on the color of the object selected as well as the color of the object beneath, so experiment. I used Colour Burn at 50% opacity on all of my gradients.

TIP: Put the Color Guide to good use…

If you’re using your own color scheme for the game boy, you might find you don’t know what colors are best to use when it comes to adding shadows. Use Illustrators ‘Color Guide’ to help you choose different shades of the same color.

Step 6: Adding Shadows Using Custom Shapes

Retro Gameboy Poster

Our Game boy is getting there. Before we add some more shadows, add a slight gradient to the Game boy itself, and repeat the process with the screen and the screens border. Whilst we’re there, change the color of the thin strokes above the screen and on top of the game boy.

Retro Gameboy Poster

Grab the Pen Tool again and draw a rough shape round the bottom right corner of our Game boy, like you can see above. Fill it with a color from your Game boys background gradient and change its blending mode to Multiply at 70%.

Retro Gameboy Poster

Select the main background of our Game boy – copy and paste it in place by going to Edit > Paste in Front. With the new background select, hold shift and select our rough shadow shape. With both objects now selected, open the Pathfinder window by going to Window > Pathfinder, and then click on Intersect. If you did this right, you should be left with just the shadowed area.

Retro Gameboy Poster

Repeat the process using the same technique for any other shadows. Don’t limit yourself to shapes, sizes and colors – try using the same technique for highlights, too (you might want to use a lighter color set to overlay). Again, use the same technique to add highlights and shadows to your buttons. Once you’ve done this, your game boy should be complete – I’m going for a simplistic look simply because I want it to stand out from the lighting effects and overlay shapes I’m going to be using in poster.

TIP: Experiment!

Different things work better for different people, try adding different gradients to your shadows and experiment with different blending modes and opacities/transparencies. You won’t know what works best until you find it!

Part 2 – The Poster

Step 1: Setting Up The Photoshop Document

Retro Gameboy Poster

With our vector illustration complete it’s time to start jazzing it up and making a poster from it in Photoshop. Open a new document, I’m using an A4 document set to RGB at 72 pixels per inch. If you’re planning on commercially printing the document, use the color mode CMYK set to at least 300 pixels per inch.

Fill the background with a dark grey to grey gradient, and place your vector game boy into the document by going to File > Place.

Step 2: Adding Some Depth

Retro Gameboy Poster

First of all we’re going to add a little more lighting to the Game boy. Rasterize your Game boy layer (this will turn it into pixels, you won’t be able to scale it afterward), and select the Burn Tool. With a soft brush, brush round the shadowed areas of your game boy to give it a darker color. Do the same with the Dodge Tool to the lighter areas. The burn tool and dodge tool have reverse effects: for e.g. if you over do it with the burn tool, you can reverse the effect using the dodge tool

Retro Gameboy Poster

Make a new layer beneath the Game boy and select the Brush Tool, select a large white soft brush. On the new layer, brush a random shape beneath the Game boy. Make another new layer beneath the Game boy and repeat the process with a black brush. Set the white blobs blending mode to Overlay, and the black blobs blending mode to Soft Light at 30%.

Step 3: Adding Some Texture

Retro Gameboy Poster

Go to File > Place and locate one of the textures you downloaded from the links at the top of this page. I’ve gone with one of my own Red & Yellow Dyed Paper Textures. Once you’ve inserted the texture, drop the saturation of it so it’s black and white. You can do this by going to Layer > New Adjustment Layer  > Hue/Saturation. Once you’ve dropped the saturdation you’ll probably notice your Gameboy is also black and white. To fix this, click on the new adjustment layer and drag it to above your texture layer in the layers panel. Merge it with the texture layer by holding Cmnd+E orCtrl+E. Change the blending mode of the texture layer to Multiply at 50%.

Retro Gameboy Poster

Find another texture you like and repeat the process again. This time I used one of Caleb Kimbroughs Experimental Grunge Textures. This time I set the textures blending mode to Difference at 10%.

Step 4: Adding Some Color

Retro Gameboy Poster

Make a new layer and grab the Brush Tool. Select a large, soft brush and your first color (I’m using a electric blue color). Brush around some areas of your poster and change the layers blending mode to overlay. 

Retro Gameboy Poster

Repeat the process a couple more times using different colors. I used blue, green and pink on the same layer. 

Retro Gameboy Poster

With the same layer still selected, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and give it a high pixel radius. I used 250 pixels.

Retro Gameboy Poster

Make another new layer above the color blob layers, and with the same brush paint a shadowed area beneath the game boy using a dark grey or black color. 

Step 5: Duplicating The Game boy

Retro Gameboy Poster

Go to File > Place and place your Gameboy Vector image back into the Photoshop. Move the layer beneath the original gameboy image and place it somewhere you like. Change the blending mode to overlay and lower the opacity. 

Retro Gameboy Poster

Repeat the step again, use a soft eraser to get rid of any areas you don’t want.

Step 6: Adding A Screenshot

Retro Gameboy Poster

Head over to Google and search for a screenshot of a Nintendo game in action. Copy and paste the image into your document and position it in place over your Nintendo screen. Set the layer to Multiply to get rid of any white areas and take on the color in the background. Lower the opacity as required.

Step 7: Adding Texture to the Gameboy

Retro Gameboy Poster

Download another texture, I’m using another one of my own from my Ink Stained Packaging Paper texture pack. Place the file on top of the Game boy. With the Game boy layer selected, hold Cmnd or Ctrl and click on the preview image of the game boy in the layers palette. Go to Select > Inverse to inverse your selection. Click on the new texture layer and hit the delete key. 

Retro Gameboy Poster

With the new texture layer still selected, change the blending mode to color burn with an opacity of 20%.

Step 8: Creating and Adding Some Custom Shapes

Retro Gameboy Poster

Head back over to Illustrator and use the rectangle and ellipse tools to create some custom shapes. You can download these shapes by hitting the big green button at the bottom of this tutorial if you don’t have Illustrator, just import them into photoshop by going to File > Place.

Retro Gameboy Poster

After modifying the shapes to how you like them, copy one of the Illustrator files and paste it into your Photoshop document as a smart object. Rasterize the layer and hold Cmnd or Ctrl and click on the layers preview image in the layers palette. Using a soft white brush, paint over areas of it to give it a gradient like effect.

Retro Gameboy Poster

Set the layer to overlay, and delete some areas using a soft eraser. Duplicate the layer, rotate and reposition it somewhere else in your document. 

Retro Gameboy Poster

Repeat the process with some other custom vector shapes from your Illustrator file.

Step 9: Adding Some Finishing Touches

Retro Gameboy Poster

Make a new layer above all the other layers and select the Brush Tool. Choose a medium sized soft brush and brush white blobs randomly over your canvas. Change the blending mode to overlay at 20%. Repeat the step again, this time changing the blending mode to overlay at 30%. Make sure the white blobs are in different places.

Retro Gameboy Poster

Duplicate the original game boy layer. Using the Polygonal Lasso Tool, cut areas of the new game boy layer away. Move the layer slightly, and change the blending mode to overlay, use a soft eraser to get rid of some areas of the new layer. 

Retro Gameboy Poster

Make a new layer and select the Pen Tool, start to draw some curly lines round the game boy. Once you’ve finished your curly line, with the path still selected, select the Brush Tool. Select a small soft brush, and make sure you have a light color selected. Select the Pen Tool again and Ctrl+Click (right click for Windows users) on the path. Click on Stroke Path, make sure the simulate pressure box is ticked.

Retro Gameboy Poster

Select a hard eraser, and delete some areas of the curvy line we’ve just created. 

Retro Gameboy Poster

With the curvy line layer selected, go to Layer > Layer Styles > Blending Options. Add a gradient, inner glow and outer glow. The settings all depend on the size of brush you used to create the glow, so just experiment and go with what you think looks best. Create a new layer beneath the curly glow layer, and merge the two together. This just means we can set the blending mode. Change the
blending mode to Pin Light, and delete/reduce the intensity of the glow in some places using a soft eraser. 

Retro Gameboy Poster

Play about with some settings like contrast levels and color balances, and save!

87 Comments

  1. Add point Subtract point

    Photoshop tutorials, from beginner to advanced. photo manipulation, icon design, text effects, interface, layout, painting, photo effects, psd tuts, maxon cinema 4d, designing.
    http://alophotoshop.co.cc

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    HEY HEY HEY (1 Point) October 14, 2010 at 4:40 am

    How do i download from at circleboxtext website? every time i click at the link nothings is downloadable and if i search it some links appear none of them is what im loonking for

    I really like the tutorial. thank you very much for sharing :)

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  3. Add point Subtract point
    โหลดเพลง (2 Points) March 29, 2010 at 11:40 am

    It’s wonderful trick. Thank you for you sharing.

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  4. Add point Subtract point
    Reglan Lawsuit (1 Point) February 17, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    I never had a gameboy growing up. I was deprived as a child.

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  5. Add point Subtract point
    โหลดเพลงmp3ฟรี (1 Point) February 3, 2010 at 2:36 am

    its very nice. Great post36

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    ฟังเพลงใหม่ (1 Point) February 1, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    its very nice. Great post23

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    เพลงใหม่ล่าสุด (1 Point) February 1, 2010 at 1:52 am

    its very nice. Great post17

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    เพลงใหม่ล่าสุด (1 Point) January 30, 2010 at 9:48 am

    great i never seen before.

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  9. Add point Subtract point

    The effect isn’t totally retro, but I like your ideas, and it’s clear you worked hard and put thought into it.

    However, the swirl does seem a bit off, and really throws off the retro type feel you’re going for. Also, the pink and the green clash a bit. I’d say take one or the other out. When in doubt, two colors.

    Otherwise, nice work.

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  10. Add point Subtract point

    Ha. HAHAHAHA! Really? Get serious. I don’t know what I’m more concerned with, the fact that I spent five minutes checking out and replying to your horrible tut, or the fact that it probably took you a long time to make it.

    Stick to making sigs, fwiend.

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  11. Add point Subtract point
    Milica (2 Points) October 25, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    I have one question about the part where you stroke path with the brush: how do you make the brush be like that – go from thin to thick and back to thin again? I’ve been trying to make it like that in the brush options but I’m having troubles with it. Can you please tell me what to do?

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  12. Add point Subtract point
    AtiKuSDesign (1 Point) October 20, 2009 at 6:35 am

    I’ve just been through and completed this tutorial. I really love the techniques I’ve picked up!

    Thank you for the great post!

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  13. Add point Subtract point

    Great tut!!!
    I rmbr playing on this little guy…he had a terrific battery usage…I could play for hours and hours end, and battery would never die. Good ol’times!

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  14. Add point Subtract point
    Callum Chapman (1 Point) October 3, 2009 at 3:03 am

    @TimHolmes, I agree with you, now I’ve seen the end image a few hundred times I wish removed the swirl and added a bit of type.. nevermind though ;) I’m planning on writing another tutorial soon so eyes peeled ;)

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  15. Add point Subtract point

    Really Awesome Tutorial, Thanks for sharing.

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  16. Add point Subtract point
    TimHolmesDesign (1 Point) September 30, 2009 at 8:07 am

    Not bad, not bad…

    Some of the skills laid down in the tutorial are good, and well thought out. It would seem that a great deal of effort has been put into this tutorial and I commend you for it.

    My only critism is on the end product, it don’t feel it needs the swirl around the GB. Also being a poster like this I would of expected some form of nice text to balance things out.

    Other than that, nicely done.

    Keep up the hard work :o)

    Tim

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  17. Add point Subtract point
    Amatatomba (1 Point) September 26, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    Will definitely be trying out this tutorial. I help run a Nintendo fan site, and this might be useful for some sort of wallpaper design.

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  18. Add point Subtract point

    A really really long tutorial to do … that! No, let me think the result again. I’m sure I don’t like that. The background is overload and the colors not adapted! And more the graphic of first game boy it’s not this design… It’s too bad Tutorial9 published a cheap tutorial by a beginner! Good luck on the next steps.

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  19. Add point Subtract point
    Callum Chapman (1 Point) September 24, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    Thanks everyone, really glad you all like it. Expect to see more from me here at Tutorial9! :)

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  20. Add point Subtract point
    Mondo Print (1 Point) September 24, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    Awesome work! Thanks for sharing. You’re very talented.

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  21. Add point Subtract point
    Tutorial Lounge (1 Point) September 24, 2009 at 4:22 am

    really awesome tips you sharing in whole package of this tut. thanks

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  22. Add point Subtract point
    S. Preston (1 Point) September 23, 2009 at 4:43 am

    I miss my gameboy. So many wasted lunch hours. Great tutorial btw.

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  23. Add point Subtract point
    New York City Personal Injury Lawyer (1 Point) September 22, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    Nice tutorial. I love the final product, but I’m a sucker for the original Game Boy.

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  24. Add point Subtract point
    Callum Chapman (1 Point) September 22, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    @Everyone: Thanks guys, glad you like the tutorial :)
    @Benoa: You’re right, I didn’t notice that! Well spotted ;)

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  25. Add point Subtract point

    Sorry, i agree with S this isn’t up to snuff usually found on this site. And it’s not even “retro” of the gameboy era at that time of design trends, this is just a poor mishmash or current trendy photoshopping.

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  26. Add point Subtract point

    Hey! Nice work!!! Beautiful colors!

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  27. Add point Subtract point
    Waheed Akhtar (1 Point) September 22, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    Nice tutorial and effects callum:)

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  28. Add point Subtract point

    Nice tuto though the perspective doesn’t look that good (the screen should be stretched at the top left corner).

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  29. Add point Subtract point

    Brilliant, good use of layers and blending modes. Great for utilising techniques in other design work. Thanks!

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  30. Add point Subtract point
    Callum Chapman (1 Point) September 22, 2009 at 10:20 am

    Thanks Shashank :) and whoever ‘s’ is, you’re lucky you can just learn the techniques and put them to use in your own way ;)

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    Shashank Tejura (1 Point) September 22, 2009 at 9:38 am

    Nice tut! Love the effects. ;)

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  32. Add point Subtract point
    Callum Chapman (1 Point) September 22, 2009 at 9:33 am

    My first tutorial for Tutorial9! :) Hope you all like it :)

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