Articles, Blog

How To Create a Retro Pin-Up Poster in Photoshop

August 6, 2019

everyone this is Chris from Spoon Graphics back with another video tutorial for Adobe
Photoshop. Today I’ll show you how to create an effect
that mimics the painterly look of early 20th century pin-ups, where posters of glamour
models were reproduced from oil paintings and distributed to World War II soldiers. While the industry has evolved to become slightly
more erotic with the likes of Playboy magazine and the Internet, the pin-up girl concept
from the 40s and 50s is still fondly admired today, with it being a popular fashion trend,
photography genre and art style. In this tutorial we’ll take a modern digital
photograph and give it an antique appearance with a cocktail of Photoshop filters to replicate
the visual traits of those original pin-up posters. Various adjustments will convert the photo
into a hand-painted illustration, then an old paper texture will help distress the artwork
and turn it into a vintage pin-up print. But first, if you want access to a library
of design resources to use within your projects, check out Envato Elements. To create the effect we first need a source
photograph of a pin up girl. Talented digital painters could probably use
their skills to produce pin up art in the same way as the original oil painters, but
for mere mortals like us, we’ll have to rely upon existing assets. This particular photograph is by Zoom Team
from Shutterstock. The first step is to cut out the subject from
its background. Select the Pen tool and begin tracing the
subject. Drag out bezier handles to follow the curvature
of the outline, but stay a few pixels within the subject to avoid capturing the background
in the selection. When you reach the hair, make a rough selection. We’ll tackle this more complex area later. I use two different techniques with the Pen
tool. One is to click and drag each point. The other is to set a point at the other end
of a curve, then go back and add an extra point in the middle, which is dragged into
place while holding the CMD key. When the selection reaches the starting point
again, right click and choose Make Selection. Copy and Paste the selection onto a new layer,
then toggle off the visibility of the background to see the transparency. Don’t forget to make selections of any negative
space and delete these areas from the layer. To accurately select all those tiny strands
of hair, the Channels method is probably the best approach. You can see this technique along with other
hair selection methods in my video titled How To Cut Anything out in Photoshop. Open up the Channels panel and find the channel
with the highest contrast between the subject and its background. Usually this is the Blue channel for portraits. Drag the channel onto the new icon to make
a duplicate. Go to Image>Adjustments>Levels, or use
the shortcut CMD+L. Dramatically darken the subject by dragging the shadows and midtones
sliders to the right. Using the brush tool, paint over any leftover
areas within the silhouette with black. Using the Overlay mode can help you target
the edges without worrying about accidentally painting over the white background. Since we have already clipped the rest of
the body, it isn’t really necessary to create a full silhouette, we’ll just clip the selection
later. Hold the CMD key and click on the duplicate
channel’s thumbnail in the Channels panel to load its selection. Click the RGB channel again to bring back
the full colour version of the image. Switch back to the Layers panel, then apply
a Layer Mask to apply this selection. The selection is inverted the wrong way, so
use the CMD+I shortcut to invert the colours of the mask. The hair has been clipped perfectly, but because
we didn’t finish off the silhouette, any white areas elsewhere on the subject have been erased. To bring these areas back, draw a rough selection
around the head. Press CMD+Shift+I, or go to Select>Inverse,
then fill this area with white to reveal these parts of the mask. Now the subject is fully cut out, right click
and choose Apply Layer Mask to permanently apply the clipping. Before continuing with the cocktail of filters
to create the main effect, right click and choose Convert to Smart Object. This will allow the adjustments to be applied
non-destructively, so you can edit or remove them if necessary. The first adjustment is Shadows/Highlights
from the Image>Adjustments menu. Enter values of 50 in the Shadows and 20 in
the Highlights to flatten the tones of the photograph. Next, go to Image>Adjustments>Brightness/Contrast. Boost the Contrast to 100. An oil painting wouldn’t have anywhere near
as much detail as a photograph, so go to Filter>Blur>Surface Blur. Enter values of 30pixels and a Threshold of
2. A perfect filter for replicating an oil painted
effect is… You guessed it, the oil paint filter. Max out the Stylization and leave all other
settings at 0. This is actually a good place to experiment
with alternative results by editing the settings via the Smart Filter afterwards. Depending on your image, you might get away
with more Cleanliness and less Stylization. Just watch out for losing the tiny details. Add another Surface Blur filter to further
blend out the details into broad areas of colour, much like how a painting would be
created. Open up the Shadows/Highlights again from
under the Image>Adjustments menu. This time click the Show More Options button
to expand the window. Reduce the shadows to zero, then set the Color
Adjustment to 0 too. Bring up the Midtone slider to around 80,
then balance the three sliders under the Highlights to tune the result. Values of 30, 20 and 40 worked for me. This step dramatically increases the contrast
of the image to further enhance the hand painted look. Add an Unsharp Mask filter from under the
Filer>Sharpen menu. Choose values of 70% Amount and 2px Radius
to bring back the hard edges. There’s just a couple more filters to apply
from under the Filter>Filter Gallery menu. The first is Dry Brush from under the Artistic
section. Set up the options with 10 Brush Size, 10
Brush Detail and 1 Texture, then hit OK. In the layers panel next to the Smart Filter,
double click the little slider icon next to this latest Filter Gallery addition to alter
its blending settings. Set the blending mode to Soft Light and reduce
the opacity to around 40% so it only has a subtle impact. Many of these filters don’t appear to make
much difference, but it becomes noticeable if they’re removed. Finally, add another Filter Gallery, this
time the Cutout effect. Set up the values to 6 Number of Levels, or
a figure that generates a good array of shapes in your image, then minimum values for Edge
Simplicity and Fidelity. Double click the settings slider next to this
Smart Filter and change the options to Soft Light at 50% opacity. This cocktail of Photoshop filters does a
good job of converting the photograph into a hand-painted illustration, with high contrast
and blocks of colour similar to the authentic examples from history. The colours are a little too vivid, so add
a Vibrance adjustment layer. Reduce the Vibrance to around -30, but boost
the Saturation to +10. That’s the main photo effect complete, so
now let’s finish off the pin-up poster with a suitable vintage style background. Open up an old paper texture, like this one
by Lukasz Szwaj on Shutterstock. Go to Select>All then Edit>Copy. Switch over to the working document and select
the Background layer, then go to Edit>Paste to place the paper texture above it. Press CMD+T to Transform, then rotate and
move the texture into place. Use the Crop tool to enlarge the canvas to
the size of the paper texture. Give the paper texture a quick Sharpen filter
to bring out the details. Add a Solid Colour adjustment layer and choose
a bright cyan colour. Change the blending mode of this layer to
Multiply to allow the paper texture to show through. The yellow of the texture might throw off
your chosen hue, so double click the adjustment layer again to adjust it. Activate the layer mask that is applied with
the solid colour adjustment layer, then set up the brush tool with a soft round tip. Place a dab of black in the centre of the
canvas, then press CMD+T to Transform. Enlarge the black spot while holding the ALT
key to expand it to act as a radial gradient that blends out the blue background. To alter the strength of the gradient effect,
add a Levels adjustment. Moving the shadows, midtones and highlights
will determine how quickly the gradient fades out towards the edges. As a finishing touch, use the Type tool to
enter the name of your pin-up girl. I’m using a nice brush script font called
Signpainter. Select your type layer, or layers, then convert
them into a Smart Object, so filters can be applied while still preserving the live text. Go to Filter>Noise>Median, then find a
small value that rounds off the edges of the text without adding too much blur, which helps
replicate a bleed effect. Next, add a Filter>Distort>Ripple effect
and find a subtle value of around 30 to distort the edges to match the roughness of the coarse
paper background. Set the blending mode to Linear Light and
reduce the fill amount to around 75% to bring through some of the paper texture. Select the paper texture and drag it onto
the New Layer icon to make a duplicate. Drag this duplicate to the top of the layer
stack. Go to Image>Adjustments>Desaturate, then
open the Levels. Drastically darken the texture by dragging
the shadows slider to the right, then bring back the tiny details by moving the highlights
slider left. Set this layer to Screen to make the black
area invisible, leaving just the white speckles that add a subtle distressed effect to the
main pin up model. Reduce the opacity to find the right balance. Make another duplicate of the paper texture
and drag it to the top of the layer stack. Set this layer to Multiply to allow the yellowy
tones to darken the artwork, then reduce its impact by bringing down the opacity to around
30%. Hold the CMD key and click the thumbnail of
the pin up girl layer to loads its selection. Select the layer underneath, then add a new
layer above it. Use the ALT+Backspace shortcut to fill this
selection with black, then deselect with CMD+D. Transform with CMD+T, then right click and
choose Distort. Drag each corner point in turn to stretch
out a shadow behind the subject, but pay attention to the direction of the light according to
the shading of the model. Add a Gaussian Blur of around 30px to soften
the shadow, then set the blending mode to Multiply with a low opacity of 20%. Apply a layer mask, then use a black brush
to erase any unwanted areas, and to softly fade out the shadow. Rather than try and stretch the single shadow
layer into the right shape, you can use multiple layers to construct the shading effect by
using layer masks to delete the areas you don’t want. Manually painting in the shadow with a soft
black brush can also add shading in just the right places. The final result is a old-style pin-up girl
poster with a hand-painted illustration effect. The various Photoshop adjustments help reduce
the realism of the photograph into the stylised appearance of an oil painting, while the additions
of an old paper texture finishes off the effect with an antique poster look. If you enjoyed this tutorial or learnt any
new tricks please give the video a thumbs up to help with its rating. Browse through my Spoon Graphics YouTube channel
to see of my videos, and head over to my Spoon Graphics website to download my free bundle
of design resources. As always thank you very much for watching,
and I’ll see you in the next one.


  • Reply Christopher Dyer March 27, 2019 at 5:07 am

    You lost me at cutout

  • Reply Spoon Graphics March 27, 2019 at 7:55 am

    Join my mailing list and get a FREE design resources bundle! 📦

  • Reply vishwanath paranjpe March 27, 2019 at 8:20 am

    Very nicely explained. However , a follow up tutorial on creating a pin up image from a photograph would be a great add on , just a suggestion.

  • Reply Sabir Ali March 27, 2019 at 10:41 am

    hay chris just want to say its super tutorial love the way you explain each and every detail. please keep uploading your tutorial alwasy help to learn new thing.

  • Reply BNB Bus Stop March 27, 2019 at 11:40 am

    great help. Your tutorial style is superb. Step by step clarity. Thanks so much. I learned a ton of "new" tricks

  • Reply 버거햄 March 27, 2019 at 2:56 pm

    OMG. absolutely amazing

  • Reply the Bullring Live March 27, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    Hunh, my filter gallery is greyed out

  • Reply Алекс Ди March 27, 2019 at 3:11 pm


  • Reply Paul Tisdell March 27, 2019 at 5:16 pm

    Great tutorial. Learnt a lot. Would have liked you to have a gone a bit slower towards the end. My pause button is broke!!!

  • Reply Juha R. Toivonen March 27, 2019 at 6:53 pm

    Thank you for good tutorial. Result was nice!

  • Reply Nic Ford March 27, 2019 at 8:34 pm

    This is incredible work. Thanks!

  • Reply Derek Smalls March 27, 2019 at 9:10 pm

    Excellent! Great effect and great tutorial. I have honestly been looking for just this effect, but had yet to find one that worked as well with my photos. I am letting you know now that I am completely stealing this technique! lol. Well done.

  • Reply Andy Timmons March 27, 2019 at 9:41 pm

    In some of the adjustments you give a specific value, e.g. blur two pixels at 50%, but doesn't the resolution of the original image have a major influence on these values?

  • Reply Jhonsun March 27, 2019 at 9:44 pm

    Fantastic video. There are so many good tips and tricks that can be applied to a wide variety of projects. Thanks!

  • Reply the imagerist March 28, 2019 at 8:48 am

    get to the video already

  • Reply Frank Klein March 28, 2019 at 11:13 am

    I wanted to sign up, but I can not validate an email …

  • Reply Ann Glynn March 28, 2019 at 12:47 pm

    Great tutorial, love this effect. Learned lots of hints and tips. Thank you!

  • Reply Brendan Goodenough March 28, 2019 at 5:02 pm

    Excellent Chris, gorgeous end result..

  • Reply Gavin Doyle March 28, 2019 at 5:25 pm

    THANK YOU!! 🙂

  • Reply boom baby March 28, 2019 at 6:46 pm

    As I always say: photoshopping is the same as painting, only with filters. Great job!

  • Reply Joe Bennett March 28, 2019 at 8:21 pm

    Really amazing. Well done. Easy to follow.

  • Reply David Franks March 29, 2019 at 6:40 am

    Love this! Thanks for another really useful tute.

  • Reply Dark Nyte Studios March 29, 2019 at 4:37 pm

    Incredible, definitely going to do this and make an action out of it.

  • Reply Josue Luna March 30, 2019 at 9:23 am

    I'll try this tomorrow, thanks!

  • Reply VA March 31, 2019 at 8:48 am

    Great video…and man, that model is gorgeous

  • Reply Darren of Photos April 1, 2019 at 3:05 am

    Given how clean the background was in the picture, why didn't you use Magic Wand or the quick selection tool to get the initial selection? Great tutorial re the filters etcetera. Everyone selects their own way I guess. Many ways to achieve a skinless cat.

  • Reply Moosa Sanani April 1, 2019 at 1:27 pm

    Awesome and Most Beautiful Work

  • Reply Elijah April 1, 2019 at 1:34 pm

    Would love to see a apocolyptic logo creation <3 Great work!

  • Reply RealistE April 2, 2019 at 11:25 pm

    This works so different for black people loool🤦‍♂️

  • Reply Fernando Vázquez Dj Manitas April 3, 2019 at 9:29 am

    Amazing!!! Great job

  • Reply Fernando Del Gener April 3, 2019 at 2:20 pm


  • Reply emma lissette alvarado vasquez April 3, 2019 at 5:37 pm


  • Reply CENTRALFCP April 4, 2019 at 1:25 am

    very cool 🙂

  • Reply Max Renn April 4, 2019 at 2:09 pm

    Great tutorial! Liked and subscribed!

  • Reply Jack Kraken April 4, 2019 at 4:24 pm

    Very well done. I was wondering how this was possible.

  • Reply brpbrpbrpbrp April 4, 2019 at 4:29 pm

    Wish I could do this in Elements!

  • Reply Jose Wylot April 5, 2019 at 10:06 am

    such a fabulous and clever effect -but whizzed through too fast

  • Reply kjorg27 April 5, 2019 at 6:26 pm

    This is a high-con matte, correct? I'm having trouble due to the gray background of my photo.

  • Reply Abdou king April 6, 2019 at 6:00 pm

    thank you soo much <3

  • Reply LeBeautiful April 6, 2019 at 10:42 pm

    This is pretty cool. Good stuff!

  • Reply Skyfox April 7, 2019 at 12:30 am

    And now, to figure out how to do everything you just did, but in Gimp!

  • Reply M3CA April 8, 2019 at 3:09 am

    Wow.. Perfect

  • Reply 呂記 April 8, 2019 at 3:39 pm


  • Reply Tommaso Carnaroli April 8, 2019 at 3:49 pm

    I'm sorry but how come the oil paint effect doesn't make me apply it?

    I'm following your instructions step by step but that effect cannot be selected.

    can you help me ?

  • Reply Ade Abbas April 9, 2019 at 7:47 am

    i'm becoming better on photoshop, thanks to you

  • Reply George Manu April 9, 2019 at 7:58 am

    amazing tutorial

  • Reply Doran H. April 9, 2019 at 1:54 pm

    I feel dumb for ignoring this for the past week.

  • Reply Walrus Bellhop April 9, 2019 at 5:44 pm

    " The man places his left foot on the coffee table . . . "

  • Reply Apoc Da One April 9, 2019 at 11:19 pm

    Yung Gravy Follows This

  • Reply Carl Manson April 10, 2019 at 12:21 am

    Nice effect! Your destructive deep etching at the start of the video made me nervous, but the end result was worth it.

  • Reply jl sc April 10, 2019 at 2:04 pm

    Why on earth would you make selection on a white background with the pen tool ? The masking tool would do it better in less than a minute.

  • Reply Jeffrey Ellis April 10, 2019 at 7:04 pm

    Brilliant! Been looking for a tutorial like this for ages. Thanks!

  • Reply go home gi April 11, 2019 at 9:42 pm

    lol i have a crush on that photo

  • Reply Stew April 12, 2019 at 12:24 am

    Hmm all of the actual WW2 pin ups I have seen did not have that much clothes on. I don't know why but I have always loved those hair styles, must have been a previous life.

  • Reply Malau April 12, 2019 at 11:49 am

    Mac ? What is this 1999 or 2019 ?

  • Reply Nicolas Racine April 12, 2019 at 6:20 pm

    I love this. You got a new subscriber.

  • Reply gasgasLex April 12, 2019 at 7:52 pm

    Nice but this Ps dummy needs a way more detailed explanation to be able to follow

  • Reply Yung Lyun April 13, 2019 at 3:06 pm

    Wow, pop filter needed, stat!

  • Reply Maui0895 April 13, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    Subbed! Thank you!

  • Reply lostformiles April 13, 2019 at 5:40 pm

    Really cool! How do you even come up with a process like this? So many effects. 😀

  • Reply Ginty Fleas April 13, 2019 at 11:01 pm

    F**k! Can't you go any slower! Part of your tutorial of certain tools to use in photoshop is vague and more of a rush job!

  • Reply Mark Schafer April 13, 2019 at 11:36 pm

    Obviously self taught. So much wrong with these methods.

  • Reply Marc Roman Bravo April 14, 2019 at 1:12 am

    That's the best I've seen of this type. Thank you so much!

  • Reply Chesty McStudmuffin April 14, 2019 at 2:08 am

    I'm doing well enough to crop.

  • Reply hussain mohammed. mahf April 14, 2019 at 2:27 am


  • Reply Free Bass April 14, 2019 at 4:26 am

    Good info. Shitty presentation.

  • Reply Memes Apart April 14, 2019 at 11:38 am

    I'll probably never do this, but I enjoyed watching you do it

  • Reply J V April 15, 2019 at 9:47 am

    Instead of using the pen tool to cut out what I do, is I just use 'quick select' or 'magic wand' to select the white and expand the selection by through for pixels. It's a lot quicker in my opinion and works pretty much the same.

  • Reply Ibnu April 15, 2019 at 11:01 am

    pixelimperfect cover up how to make a good selection

  • Reply PatchesRips April 15, 2019 at 3:49 pm

    Bloody brilliant.

  • Reply Anthony Skellern April 15, 2019 at 4:53 pm

    Excellent tutorial – a whole bunch of useful information and a concise talkthough – with a very attractive end result. Great work!

  • Reply AC2 April 16, 2019 at 9:29 am

    Great video, love your content

  • Reply I W April 16, 2019 at 10:34 am

    Nice! Thank you! Can you show how to make the effect that old colour printings have like this one

  • Reply CMDR Pausanias April 16, 2019 at 2:21 pm

    Photoshop proves aliens exist!

  • Reply Fabiano Siqueira April 16, 2019 at 11:46 pm

    In the Oil Painting effect, I applied the same values ​​shown in the video (10 / 0.0 / 0.1 / 0.0) – 5:25 , but it did not work, the image was blurred, totally blurred. Why does it happen? Help me, plis.

  • Reply sitearm April 18, 2019 at 12:57 am

    realism and stylism nice! : )

  • Reply hisvorpalsword April 18, 2019 at 10:40 am

    It might be helpful to get a look at your Image Size settings, or at least tell us what resolution you're working in.

  • Reply hisvorpalsword April 18, 2019 at 12:50 pm

    5:12 "Enter values of 30 pixels and a threshold of 2" as he enters a threshold of 10.

  • Reply Владимир Погонец April 19, 2019 at 7:39 am

    Great job! It was a bit strange to see that old fashioned methods of masking 🙂 In any way the result is exellent! Thank you for interesting ideas!

  • Reply Cuisine And Talk April 21, 2019 at 8:23 pm

    Thank you for your tutorial. You should write your explanation so foreign people could follow easily your instructions. 🌻🌻🌻

  • Reply Paolo Volante April 22, 2019 at 9:23 pm

    Great tutorial, thanks! Could you please tell us the size of the original photo? It's very important in order to adjust all the filter parameters for different photo sizes.. Thank you in advance.

  • Reply Fabrice Martellucci April 23, 2019 at 6:20 am

    very nice look… great. nice job.

  • Reply Aartwood April 23, 2019 at 7:17 am

    going to try this in photoshop elements 12, wish me luck! lol

  • Reply muddylondon April 24, 2019 at 8:56 am

    You really are a genius! Amazing.

  • Reply M. Douglas Miller April 28, 2019 at 2:37 am

    Wow, I just completed my version while following along (pausing every 3 seconds) and mine actually came out decent. Great tutorial!

  • Reply macar zer April 28, 2019 at 10:58 am

    love it

  • Reply Quentin Joubert May 1, 2019 at 10:36 am

    i did my first one lat night and i wish i could share the result!!!! Not 100% asthe pro's but it looks very cool 🙂 I would love to doe more but with different scenes (1940's diner, skate ring, etc)

  • Reply MegaStorm252 May 2, 2019 at 10:25 am

    Does nobody use the magic wand or magnetic wand tool anymore? This is the 3rd tutorial suggested, where people use the pen tool to select?

  • Reply Head ATTANIUS May 2, 2019 at 10:31 am

    love it, great stuff

  • Reply SKOKOV DESIGH May 3, 2019 at 8:06 pm

    How to open the Levels window? 3:01

  • Reply Alex Fok May 7, 2019 at 2:51 pm

    Thats a new way to play with oil paint effect! This is inspiring!

  • Reply BEgroot May 14, 2019 at 2:54 pm

    Absolutely brilliant!! Thank you.

  • Reply Jim Kearns May 14, 2019 at 8:13 pm

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge, I liked how you explained what some of the various layers done in terms of effect on the images instead of just saying "do this" without explanation. It is much appreciated.

  • Reply Binty McFrazzles May 17, 2019 at 5:06 pm

    Thanks, good tutorial.

  • Reply Jody Resnanda May 19, 2019 at 8:25 am

    This is amazing!
    +1 sub

  • Reply Movie Head May 19, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    Beim nächsten Video bitte ein Ploppschutz benutzen oder etwas vom Micro weg, auf die Dauer nervt es.

  • Reply Neya J June 1, 2019 at 9:29 am

    Hey, I have a question. I can't seem to do the adjustments when I converted the layers as a smart object. What should I do? Thanks in advance.

  • Reply Hashtag Animesh June 4, 2019 at 9:18 am

    A bit ago I find your channel in my recommended I'm your one of the loyal sub

  • Reply Montressor June 18, 2019 at 10:10 pm

    It all works up until the Oil Painting filter for me, all other filters are available, but the Oil Painting filter is greyed out. What the fuck is going on?

  • Reply Sigit Marcopolo July 23, 2019 at 10:37 am

    wow i love retro. finally found this tutor.. thank bud

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