Creating a Simple Typographic Poster


Have you ever heard of a Typographic or Type Poster? I haven't either until recently, but I can tell you that I've seen them all over the place for most of my life. While I've seen them though, I never quite knew that they had a name. If you aren't sure of what I'm referring to, basically, type posters are pieces of art that play on either one or various styles of typography. They use beautiful, mundane or otherwise jarring fonts to convey a mood or feeling to the viewer. Oftentimes, these posters are used at restaurants to display a menu, at a show or concert to describe the band or at some sort of festival to inform people of what's going on. Almost everyone thinks these posters are very cool, so I thought I'd put the spotlight on them today. I also want to work through a very simple example of what you can do with one simple area on a blank canvas when it comes to these posters. I'll work with a few random fonts and perhaps insert some designs that I've seen around the web.

If you'd like some examples of some fine type posters, please follow this link to Pinterest. It's chock full of them.

For this post, I think I'm going to work through the process of creating a type poster using Adobe Photoshop. I've looked around a bit and have seen some examples that I like. I'll use the ideas that appeal to me and I'll apply them to a poster about heavy metal bands from the 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond. I think this will be fun because I'll get to focus entirely on different fonts. Of course, they won't be too out there because I'll be limited to the fonts that are installed on my Windows computer. I haven't installed anything fancy beyond that. As you can imagine, typography posters really come alive when interesting fonts are used.

To start things off, I'll create a file in Adobe Photoshop that's 566 pixels wide and 800 pixels tall. Then, I'll fill the background with two rectangles. The one on the top will have a gradient going from black to dark gray, left to right and the same thing, but opposite on the bottom. Then, I'll create a tan stroke around the outer edge of the document. This is what I have so far. If this was a real poster for print, I'd use different dimensions at 300dpi, but since this is only a sample, I'll use these small dimensions at 72dpi.


I know it doesn't look like much, but it's a good start for a semi-interesting background.

Next, I'll work on some text that says, HEAVY METAL. I'll type that out with the Impact font and then I'll make it nice and large at 133pt. Then, I'll rotate it 90° clockwise so it reads up and down as opposed to side to side. I'll keep this font white.

After that, I'll duplicate that layer twice and reduce the opacity of the duplicated layers to 10% and then shift one of them up and to the left and the other down and to the right. This will create sort of like a blur effect.

The next thing I'll work on is the 70s, 80s and 90s text. I'll use the Sage Script font for this and I'll keep the font size the same as the HEAVY METAL text. I'll alternate colors for these pieces of text, so one is white while the other two are tan. I'll also apply a drop shadow to all three.

Finally for this group of steps, I'll use the Custom Shape Tool to apply a random shape that I thought looked good. I'll make that black and I'll add it behind the year text.

Oh yeah, one more thing. I think things will look better if I round the corners of the background outline, so I softened them by 10px in the shape Properties panel. Here's what I've got up to this point. I think it's coming together.


I'd say that looks rather 80s. It looks like a poster that a radio station would make.

Okay, the only thing I've got left is to fill in the bottom with some names of heavy metal bands from the era. I'd like to do this in an interesting way though, so I'll mix a bunch of band names up and type them out in the empty space, but I'll also include them behind the poster border as well as the HEAVY METAL text. I'll use the Calibri font at 35pt. I'll also use the color white, but I'll reduce the opacity to 10% so it plays off the gradient background. Let's see how it looks.


I'd say that looks pretty good for a poster that was only made in a few minutes with some basic fonts. If I had some real fonts, I could have made it look much better.

Type posters are fun to make and they can be very simple to put together. The best part is that you can get as creative as you want with them. You can use shapes from a library and all sorts of different fonts, but that's only the beginning. It really is up to your own creativity to produce something that's appealing and that stands out from the rest. If you have any questions regarding this process, please ask below. Thanks!
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