Articles, Blog

Photoshop Tutorial: Create a Bone-Chilling, Horror Movie Poster

October 28, 2019

Hi. This is Marty from Blue Lightning TV.
For those of you who like horror and the macabre, I’m going to show you how to create this horror
movie poster. I provided a PSD file, so you can follow along. Its link its located in
the video’s description or project files. It includes this human skull, concrete texture
and movie poster credits. Hide the top 2 layers and make the concrete texture visible and
active. Click the Adjustment layer icon and click “Levels”. Make the Input black: 47 and
the Input white: 209. Make the Skull, visible and active. Click the icon at the upper, right
of the Layers panel and click “Convert to Smart Object”. This will allow us to modify
the skull non-destructively. Double-click the Smart Object to open its source. We’ll
separate the skull from the black background by using the Magic Wand Tool. Make the Tolerance
approximately 40 and make sure “Contiguous” is checked. Click anywhere outside the skull.
This makes a selection around it. Invert the selection by pressing Ctrl or Cmd + Shift
+ I. Press Ctrl or Cmd + J to cut out the skull and copy it to its own layer. Hide the
original layer. We’ll use the cut-out skull as a displacement map for the blood streaks
that we’ll be adding later. The displacement map will make the blood streaks look like
it’s wrapping itself around the contours of the skull. To make the skull into a displacement
map, click the icon at the upper right of the Layers panel and click “Duplicate Layer”.
Click “New” and type in “Displacement”. Then, click OK. Go to File and “Save As”. Save it
to your Desktop as a PSD file and click “Save”. When you see this window, click OK and then,
close the Displacement tab. Ctrl-click or Cmd-click the New Layer icon to make a new layer below the active layer. Ctrl-click or Cmd-click on the cut-out skull to make a selection of its shape. We’ll fill the selection with black, but first, if your foreground and background
colors aren’t black and white respectively, press “D” on your keyboard. Since black is
your foreground color, press Alt or Option + Delete. Delete the selection by pressing
Ctrl or Cmd + D. Make the top layer active and press Ctrl or Cmd + J to make a copy of
it. Click the Adjustment layer icon and click “Levels”. For the Input Black, type in 91,
for the Input Midtones, type in 1.54 and for the Input White, type in 205. Let’s restore
back some detail from the top of the skull. To do this, make the top skull active and
click the Layer Mask icon to make a layer mask next to it. Click the skull under it
to make it active and reduce its opacity to 60%. Click the layer mask to make it active.
Open your Gradient Tool and make sure the Linear Gradient is active. Click the gradient
bar to open the Gradient Editor. Click the “Foreground to Transparent” box and click
OK. Go to the top of the skull and press and hold Shift as you drag the gradient line to
the top of the eye sockets. Then, close the Smart Object tab. When you see this window,
click “Yes” to save the changes. Change the Blend Mode to “Overlay”. Next, we’ll create
the blood streaks. Click the New Layer icon to make a new layer. We’ll fill it with white
and since white is the background color, press Ctrl or Cmd + Delete. Click the foreground
color and in the hexadecimal field, type in: 9B0202. Then, click OK or press Enter or Return.
Now, your foreground color is the color you just typed in. Go to Filter, Render and Fibers.
Make the Variance: 5 and the Strength: 10. Then, click OK. Press Ctrl or Cmd + L to open your Levels window. For the Input white, type in: 200 and click OK. Go to Filter, Distort
and Displace. Make The Horizontal and Vertical Scales: 50, the Displacement Map: “Stretch
to Fit” and the Undefined Areas: “Repeat Edge Pixels”. Then click OK. Click the “Displacement”
file that you saved earlier on your Desktop and click “Open”. Notice. immediately, the
blood streaks became distorted based on the displacement map created from the tonal values
of the skull. Change the Blend Mode to “Linear Burn”. Next, we’ll add a soft, shadow. Click
the New Layer icon to make a new layer. Press “D” on your keyboard to make the foreground
and background colors default to black and white, respectively. Open your Elliptical
Marquee Tool, go to the top, left corner of your image and drag out a selection to the
bottom, right corner. Go to Select and Transform Selection. Go near a corner and rotate it
clockwise. Drag it the left and press Enter or Return. Go to Select, Modify and Feather. Feather it 200 pixels and click OK or press Enter or Return. Invert the selection by pressing
Ctrl or Cmd +Shift + I. Press Alt or Option + Delete to fill the selection with black.
Then, deselect it. Open your Horizontal Type Tool and open list of fonts. I’m using “Abaddon
II Regular”. If you’d like to use it, I provided that link, as well. For this font, I’ll start
with a size of approximately 100 points, Sharp and right alignment. Click the color box and
pick white. Then, click OK. Click on your document and type out your first 2 lines of
text. To adjust the space between the lines of text, also know as “leading”, highlight both lines
and go to Window and Character. The Character panel will open. Drag the Leading icon to
the left or right. Since it’s easier to adjust the size of each word if there’s a lot of
space between them, temporarily make the leading wide as in this example. Click to the right
of your second word and continue to type out your text. To enlarge a word, highlight it
and drag the size icon to the right. To make a line of text smaller, highlight the line
and drag the size icon to the left. Continue to adjust the words until you’re happy with
their sizes. To close the space the lines, highlight the second line and drag the Leading
icon to the left. Highlight the next line and drag it it up. Continue to adjust your
title until your happy with its spacing. To reposition it and adjust its overall size,
click your Move Tool and open your Transform Tool. Go to a corner and when you see a diagonal,
double-arrow, press and hold Alt or Option + Shift as you drag it out or in. When you’re
happy with its size and position, press Enter or Return. We can close the Character panel
now. Convert your text into a Smart Object, so we can change or edit the text at any point
without having to redo the effects that we’ll be adding to it. Press Ctrl or Cmd + J to
make a copy of it. Make the bottom text active and go to Filter, Blur and “Motion Blur”.
Make the Angle: 90 degrees and the Distance: 200 pixels. Then, click OK. Next, we’ll add
an ethereal, glow to part of the text, as well as a drop shadow to your entire title.
To do this, Shift-click on the text copy to make it active, as well and then, convert
both layers into one Smart Object. Open your Lasso Tool and draw a selection around part of your title. Press Ctrl or Cmd + J to cut the inside of the selection and copy it to its own layer.
Go to Filter, Blur and Gaussian Blur. Blur it 40 pixels and click OK. Make your title
active and click the “fx” icon. Click “Drop Shadow”. Make the Blend Mode: Color Burn,
the color: black and the Opacity: 70%. The Distance is 18 pixels and the Size: 7 pixels. Then, click OK. Make the Credits layer visible and active and change its Blend Mode to “Screen”. This is Marty from Blue Lightning TV. Thanks for watching!


  • Reply Adam Sandor August 3, 2015 at 2:41 am

    Simply the best!!!

  • Reply RahmanBatopie Mgs August 3, 2015 at 2:52 am


  • Reply Paul Sara Jose August 3, 2015 at 3:16 am

    Awesome…. Great..!!! Thank U Sir…

  • Reply Mario San Rafael August 3, 2015 at 3:40 am

    excelente trabajo Marty!, muchas gracias amigo, saludos desde Argentina…like!

  • Reply Said Sardi August 3, 2015 at 3:47 am

    thank you so much for everything you do

  • Reply OORVOKKI August 3, 2015 at 5:42 am

    very good..thanks a lot…

  • Reply Ayman. Abureida August 3, 2015 at 7:05 am

    Can u help me to use logo of my name thank's

  • Reply GHitman August 3, 2015 at 8:00 am

    Can you tell me why you dont want to show us how to create a zombie from a photo? With all kind effects: torn skin, rotten flesh and exposed bones!

  • Reply golgothika August 3, 2015 at 8:09 am

    Very informative! Thank you.

  • Reply Keens August 3, 2015 at 8:22 am

    Love it Marty! Are you going to be making any kinds of photo manipulations in the future?

  • Reply Carol Carlaw August 3, 2015 at 9:03 am

    You are one of my favourites!!!! Thank You!!!

  • Reply Music Library August 3, 2015 at 9:04 am


  • Reply Kevin K. August 3, 2015 at 9:11 am

    Marty’s videos define form, function and professionalism. Its hard to watch other’s turorials after watching a Blue Lighting TV Video.

  • Reply tran khanh August 3, 2015 at 10:46 am

    thank u

  • Reply Roddy Cleere August 3, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    am getting a warning when I try to install the font

  • Reply Ali Maysam Nazary August 3, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    please teach us how to exchange our photo to angels please please

  • Reply James Daubney August 3, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    Awesome job Marty. Ever think of utilizing some of PS 3D abilities for something like this?  Or would that be too long a tutorial?

  • Reply Hamza Meliha Tv August 3, 2015 at 3:51 pm

    iam really admiring you Marty u r  a genius .. GOD BLISS U THANKS A LOT MY FRIEND>> I HOPE TO VISIT MY FACEBOOK PAGE ,,

  • Reply Pinkal Bhakta August 3, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    Awesome bro I am big fan of horror and thrill, cant wait for more horror tutorials

  • Reply patric urim August 3, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    thanks Marty for my Photoshop experience… !

  • Reply Jack Major August 3, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    Where do you normally download your images from?

  • Reply AL Moss August 4, 2015 at 6:38 am

    Awesome  Marty.

  • Reply Tomb Raider August 4, 2015 at 8:41 am

    marty your videos are very easy to follow thanks.. do u make after affects videos?

  • Reply Serjinov August 4, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    I really like all ur works Marty , Great thanx and respect  to you sir

  • Reply Angga Buana August 5, 2015 at 1:30 am

    awesome job

  • Reply Aldy Fariha August 5, 2015 at 2:22 am

    Please make an Iron Man Hud Photoshop Tutorial..

  • Reply MrSteven156 August 5, 2015 at 5:40 am

    thanks to you marty. i have a lot of photo shop skills under my belt. keep up the good work

  • Reply CedarCreek19 August 5, 2015 at 10:49 pm

    Another excellent tutorial!  Thank you, sir!

  • Reply Sean Nation August 6, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    You won me over dude! Now I have to Subscribe to you!!!
    You mad man!!

  • Reply DotingFan August 6, 2015 at 11:28 pm


  • Reply kraftyiam August 9, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    WOW – that was the most thorough vid I did ever see – perfect tempo & instructions – you, you're good    🙂  I could feel the creepy in that poster ! amazing job

  • Reply DJ Alboe August 10, 2015 at 2:27 am

    My blood streaks aren't distorting and I can't figure out why.  The only thing I did different was that when I chose the gradient box I didn't have one like yours, so I chose the one to the right of it.  That shouldn't matter, should it?

  • Reply Cathy Neary August 12, 2015 at 1:47 am

    The best ever! Thank you!

  • Reply Sandra Villanueva August 15, 2015 at 6:08 am


  • Reply Blue Lightning TV Photoshop August 21, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    Get up to 20% off Photoshop + Lightroom! $7.99 p/month!:

  • Reply Paul SZ August 22, 2015 at 7:22 am

    Can you make a Sinister poster tutorial? I think it's very near to that one.

  • Reply ADHDad56 August 23, 2015 at 12:03 pm

    I love your stuff! You do such a broad range of things from sci-fi, space, horror, special effects to portraiture and the videos are fun, short and so creative. My family and friends are blown away by some of the work that I have learned through your videos! My biggest need is to learn how to better match my subject to the environment with lighting. I'll check through your impressive list of tutorials for tips. With the premier of 'Fear The Walking Dead', my family wants me to turn them into zombies for their Facebook pages. Thanks Marty!

  • Reply Warr Tucker September 6, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    Marty this was great, I didn't get as much blood, but it still looks good. We need more of your videos. thanks a lot for you help. Learning with you is fun and informative. Hey when are you going to put up more, I hope with designing banners, and AD's.

  • Reply Justin Peter September 12, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    Hey. I love your tutorials coz they're easier to understand, kindly do more tutorials on how to make any type of flyers on photoshop. Specifically rave flyers.

  • Reply Marwan Nazeer September 22, 2015 at 4:03 am

    Thanks man…you inspire me 🙂

  • Reply zuzaylı art November 7, 2015 at 10:04 am

    bu adam kesin seri katil

  • Reply Lana Lane November 27, 2015 at 11:17 pm

    Thank you, Marty:)

  • Reply Emilie A December 8, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    i downloaded the letters but there were only question marks on them, why?

  • Reply Coqaine March 21, 2016 at 10:17 am

    look like Shiver Novel 😮

  • Reply Abanty Ghosh September 12, 2016 at 7:01 pm

    How do you add outline text?

  • Reply Ethan wake September 27, 2016 at 7:42 am

    OMG… you are Very helpful Thank you very Much!

  • Reply yogesh novel October 3, 2016 at 11:39 am

    how to make matte painting

  • Reply YouKevo October 3, 2016 at 4:50 pm

    Many thanks, Marty. I followed this tutorial to the letter and everything turned out great. I learnt a lot about Photoshop. I'm currently making a book cover. Picked up many good tips from this video. Thanks again.

  • Reply Eric October 5, 2016 at 7:23 pm


  • Reply Gayaliberty Giusy October 29, 2016 at 9:01 pm

    beautiful. Thank you. The downloaded font to me by three major errors. I can not install it. Someone managed?

  • Reply Luciano José Lessa November 22, 2016 at 5:38 am


  • Reply dark quixotica March 25, 2017 at 1:59 am

    My blood isn't working, however I started my own document with a larger size and higher resolution. Could this be the problem? I am working at 20" x 30" with 300 dpi. I'm also using my own textures and skull.

  • Reply Saif ullah Ashique July 4, 2017 at 8:31 pm


  • Reply Hasya Dev August 3, 2017 at 7:24 pm

    hi Marty, thanks for your awesome videos. can u pls share a text on face video. thanks dear.

  • Reply Legends Beware November 18, 2017 at 5:29 pm


  • Reply Hasya Dev November 27, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    Dear Marty, I want to learn UI in photoshop.. Help me please

  • Reply Bryar Omar March 7, 2018 at 5:43 pm

    A great explanation has been subscribed to your channel😍

  • Reply Jaime E. Campuzano T. May 20, 2019 at 3:51 am

    Thank you, thank you, thank you Marty, what a good teacher!!!

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