Fundamentals of Creating a Typographic Portrait Poster – Adobe Photoshop

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In this tutorial you will learn how to create a fantastic Typographic Portrait Poster using Adobe Photoshop. Here, we will work on a simple exercise where we will take a face close-up and add text and effects in a creative manner in order to get the desired typographic effect. Just follow the steps given below:

Step1: The first thing that you need  to do is open the photograph in the Photoshop.


Step 2:  If you have selected a colored photograph, then you must desaturate it by going to Images > Adjustments > Desaturate

Step 3:   In this step we will unlock the layer of the photograph. To do this, go to the ‘Layers’ panel (shown below) and click on the lock icon.

Step 4: After unlocking the layer in the previous step, we will now hide it. This is really simple. You just need to look for the eye icon on the left side of the layer and click on it to hide.


Step 5:  Next we will create a new layer below the one that we already have. For this please click on new layer icon(shown below) while pressing the ctrl(command) key on the keyboard.


You will notice a new layer in the layers penal. Displayed just below the previous one.


Step 6:  Now we will fill the layer with black color. Please go to Edit > Fill… A new window will pop-up, make sure to select Black for Contents: drop-down menu and click on. This will fill the new layer with black color.


Step 7:  We will now work on the text:

1. Click T on your keyboard to activate the Text Tool

2. Since we are working on a poster we will opt for a heavy font. For this exercise our choice is Impact font, but you can select any font of your choice. We have set the size to 432.91 pts, sharp and left aligned for this exercise (again this is completely your choice).

3. Type in your first word:


4. If you need to resize and reposition the text click V on your keyboard to activate the Move Tool.

5. While the Move Tool still selected ctrl(command)+T to activate the Transform Tool. This will put your text in a bounding box.


6. Now click and drag the text to the upper corner in order to reposition it. To resize it, go to the lower right corner and place your cursor in such a manner that a diagonal double arrow is displayed. Drag the corner to upper-left to reposition the text.

7. Once the text has been arranged press ‘enter’ or ‘return’.

8. Now again, press T on your keyboard to activate the text tool. We will now work on our next word. The steps involved are the same. You will have to drag the second text and place it below your top text. Now, drag the text to the right. Align the text in such a manner that both sides of the second text is aligned with the sides of the top text.


Step 8:

1. Now go to the Channels panel. If it is not open for you, then please go to Windows > Channels to open the penal.

2. At the bottom of the document you will notice a small dotted circular icon. Click on it. You will notice that all your text gets selected. Go back to the layers panel and hide the text layers.

3. Create another new layer.

4. Fill it with white by going to Edit > Fill… change the Contents: to white.

5. Now deselect the layers by pressing ctrl(command)+D.

Step 9: We will now add colors to our text.

1. Select the the paint bucket tool from your tools penal.

2. Go to the top and set the value of tolerance to 30px.

3. Then make sure that the contiguous checkbox is checked.

4. Now select any bright colors and click on each letter to fill with color. If we hadn’t checked the ‘contiguous’ option in point number 3., then the entire document would have gotten filled with the selected color.


5. Now, let’s make the first layer (that has the photograph of the face) visible and active by clicking the eye icons.

6. We will now change its blend mode to hard light, please look at the following illustration for better understanding.

Once you have changed the blend mode setting, you will notice that the face shows through the text as well as through the background.


Step 10:  We want the face to show only through the text. To do this we will first convert the layer to a clipping mask that will clip the mask to the text under it. To do this press Ctrl(command)+Alt(option)+G on your keyboard.


1. If you want to lighten dark areas of the poster, then you will find the Dodge Tool very helpful. Select the dodge tool, make sure the Range: is set to Midtones.


2. Set Exposure to any value between 40-50%.

3. Ensure that you uncheck protect tones.

4. While working with the brush you can resize it by using ‘[’ or ‘]’ key. You can use the brush to lighten the areas that you feel look too dark.

Step 11: In this step we will adjust our colors to surro analogous color palette. Follow the settings in the screenshot to achieve the same effect.


Bingo! We are done!



Emin Sinanyan is a professional graphic designer. His tools of choice are Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator for creating beautiful graphics and illustations. He is a lead graphic designer at Amberd Design Studio, Los Angeles based design and branding studio.


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