Create your Own Propaganda Inspired Gig Poster – Photoshop tutorial


This photoshop tutorial is on how to design a gig poster with a propaganda theme. I’m sure you’ve seen this technique somewhere and have wondered how it’s done. These posters are actually fairly common, combining a mix of grunge, abstract style and a little bit of outside the box creativity to achieve a great looking poster worthy of print.




Inspired Gig Poster photoshop tutorial

First, you will want to prepare your main feature image for the poster. Of course, this can be a picture of you, your band or any image you choose depending on your theme. In this example, we will use a nice processed image of a very inspirational artist who is revolutionary in his own right. Feel free to use a stronger character though like Mao Tse Tung if you wish to toughen up your poster more. We prepare the image by using the Magic Wand tool, erasing his background and basically creating his own layer for easy cut and paste later.


Inspired Gig Poster photoshop tutorial

For the insides of the graphic, which is the face and some other lighter elements though, we put in a color. You do this by just using the paint bucket tool on the precise areas you need whilst the white parts are still selected. Keep this document open for now.


Inspired Gig Poster photoshop tutorial

Next, setup your new document. You will want to use standard poster dimensions so for this tutorial, we’ll be going with an 11×17 poster. If you wish to apply this technique for printing flyers or catalogs, make sure you start off with the right print size so as not to resize everything at the end of the tutorial and end up with undesirable proportions on your design. For the resolution, do not forget to use a 300ppi value to maintain the level of quality that one needs for printing. The higher the value of the resolution the better though.


Inspired Gig Poster photoshop tutorial

Paste in our image to the new canvass. Position it appropriately as the central feature of our poster. Then, press CTRL+J to create a copy of our image. One will be our backup (just in case we make a mistake) and the other one is what we will be working with.


Inspired Gig Poster photoshop tutorial

Now, hide the duplicate and we will work on our main image first. Adjust its brightness and contrast a bit to make it brighter and more vivid. Do this by going to Image -> Adjustments -> Brightness/Contrast. The values needed depends upon your image, however for our own image we have used these values.


Inspired Gig Poster photoshop tutorial

Now, this step is an OPTIONAL step. If your image was based from an actual Photograph, then you will want to do this to make your image look more posterized. However if your image is like what we have now, a processed one, then you do not need to do this step. So if your image is in fact from an actual photograph, go to Filters -> Artistic -> Cutout. Adjust the number of levels to 7, the edge simplicity to 2 and the edge fidelity to 3.


Inspired Gig Poster photoshop tutorial

ANOTHER OPTIONAL STEP, if your image is based on a Photograph. Since it will probably have some color. You will want to go to Image -> Adjustments -> Photo filter. Choose a “color” as the photo filter option and set it to your color theme. Set the density of it to 100%.


Inspired Gig Poster photoshop tutorial


Great! Now we will setup our background. You can hide our main image for now if you want. Create a new layer just above the background layer. Fills this up with your theme colors in a radial gradient. Just use the Gradient tool (click and hold on to the paint bucket tool if you do not see it). Click on the gradient editor and adjust to the colors that you need for your theme.


Inspired Gig Poster photoshop tutorial

Now, we are going to perform a simple trick. First, we paste in a pre-made grunge background on top of the background color we just created.


Inspired Gig Poster photoshop tutorial

Now, the trouble is, the color does not necessarily match. To correct this, we change the blend mode of this


Inspired Gig Poster photoshop tutorial

This gives us a quick color themed grunge background for our image.


Inspired Gig Poster photoshop tutorial

Afterwards, we added a couple of images of a “partying audience” just in front and below our main graphic. We varied the colors according to our theme.


Inspired Gig Poster photoshop tutorial

Finally, add your title above. Use a contrasting color for your text.


Inspired Gig Poster photoshop tutorial

Add a color gradient to our title and sub title. Also play around with adding a reduced opacity shadow. Do this by double clicking on the title layers and accessing the layer styles.


Inspired Gig Poster photoshop tutorial

Next, use the rectangle tool to fill out the bottom. Use a gradient color. Use the same color for the top part as the audience image color, and then have the gradient go to a darker hue. This helps make a seamless looking transition like so:


Inspired Gig Poster photoshop tutorial

Then, type in our event details below. Use the same layer styles as you did the title here. Do that by just right clicking on the title layer, selecting “copy layer style” and then pasting it on our bottom detail text.


Inspired Gig Poster photoshop tutorial

Great! Now you have a great, military/propaganda themed poster with very musical, abstract and grunge elements built in.


About the Author:

Irene Thompson is a professional writer and a graphic designer. She works at, a trusted online printing company that offers high quality business card printing, catalog printing, and other powerful printed marketing materials.
  • Cathy Dutton

     Hi Irene

    Thanks for posting this really in depth
    tutorial, the photo filter tool is used to good effect here and can
    create some very interesting effects. One thing I think is missing
    from the post is information on creating a grunge background from
    scratch. This would enable anyone following the tutorial to crete a
    more unique poster.


    • Irene Thompson

       Thank you Cathy, about the grunge background, you can just easily find it on the web, just type on grunge poster background and there’s a variety of it you could choose from.

  • Professional Logo Design

    Great blog, awesome tutorial, thanks a lot for the share, keep posting!

  • lubna ali

    nice and you define it in very efficient manner that every one can learn it
    very easily. Thanks for sharing.

    Graphic Design


    • Irene Thompson

      Thank you!

  • Hans

    Very clear explanation. For someone like me this step by step approach makes a great tutorial.

  • image masking service

    Great useful tutorial. Your post is very much helpful for the designer. Very easy to follow step by step. I like your post very much. Thanks a lot for sharing !!

  • Outsourcing Philippines

    Thanks for the short tutorial. I am such a photoshop slave. I like the combination of color blue. More post. 

  • Cardprinting2012

    Great tutorial! I know everyone’s going to learn a lot from this basic
    poster-making tips. It’s that easy, so everyone can make their own.


    Hi Irene,

    Really beautiful work. Love Marley :) Gonne share this with our clients. Thanks

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  • sanjida

    Very clear explanation. Gonne share this with our clients.nice and you define it in very efficient manner that every one can learn it