Create vintage poster art using Photoshop and Daz Studio

The bewildering variety of 3D software can be intimidating for Photoshop artists. One free, intuitive option is Daz Studio. Daz offers an extensive range of readymade 3D content through its site, including human figures, clothing, accessories and scenes. All this makes it possible to create 3D imagery without having to learn complex 3D modelling.

In this tutorial we’ll cover some of the basics of Daz Studio, such as how to load a figure, apply injection morphs and adds art props. You’ll then discover some great Photoshop techniques to recreate a stylised poster from a bygone era.

On the CD you’ll find Photoshop files, and the Max Muscles add-on. You’ll need to download and install the free Daz Studio 3 ( and Michael 4 Base model ( You’ll also need the following free fonts: and

Step 1
Open Daz Studio, check you’ve got the Content palette visible (View > Tabs > Content), then click the triangle to the right of the Content tab and choose View Folders As Tree. You’ll find Michael within the second content folder (Figures > DAZ People). Double-click Michael’s thumbnail (1). Select Perspective View, then use the Pan and Zoom tools to fit the figure to the main Viewport (2).

Step 2
Load the Max Muscles Pose library, found under the second content folder (Poses > P3DA_MaxMuscles). Ensure Michael is selected by clicking on any of his body parts in the main Viewport, then double-click the MaxMusclesBulk_INJ thumbnail to apply the morph.

Step 3
Navigate to Figures > P3DA_MaxMuscles; apply the leotard to Michael by double-clicking its thumbnail, then apply the wristbands and waistband too. These items are smart props, so load to the figure’s default position and also conform to the figure when posed. Next, revisit the P3DA_MaxMuscles Pose library and drag the MAT_Leotard_TX3 over Michael’s body and select Apply to Leotard. Apply the MAT_Wristband_2 and MAT_Waistband_2 in the same way.

Step 4
With Michael still selected, go to Content > Figures > Hair > PD3A_MaxMuscles. Double-click the MM_Hair thumbnail to apply it. Go to Content > Props > P3DA_MaxMuscles and apply the Moustache and Barbell props by double-clicking their thumbnails too. The hair and moustache are smart objects – whereas the Barbell loads to the default 3D space.

Step 5
Go to View > Viewport Layout > Four Views. To make your screen redraws quicker, select Smooth Shaded (1). Select the Barbell, then highlight the Rotation yrot Parameter dial field and enter 90.00. Now drag the Translation xtran, ytran and ztran dials to position under Michael’s right hand (2).

Select the hand from the Scene Tab (3), then hit the Camera Frame button (4). Continue to tweak the Parameter dials on the Barbell, then Control-click and select Change Parent. In the next window choose the right hand (5).

Step 6
Add the BlockWeight prop and set its ring to 90.00 Rotation, then repeat the technique as in step 5 to parent it to the left hand. Select all the finger joints by Shift + clicking their names in the Scene Tab (1), then drag the Bend slider (2) in the Parameters tab so they grasp the shaft.

Use the same technique on the thumb joints, then double-click the Twist and Side-Side names to uncheck the Respect Limits to make subtle adjustments. Now select all the left-hand names, including the thumb from the Content Tab and double-click all four Rotation dials in turn and tick Locked (4).

Step 7
Apply the POSE_01 preset to Michael – if your props are correctly parented, they’ll all follow his pose. As the right hand is not locked, you can now adjust the grip as required. Now select the Barbell and bend the shaft by setting its Lift Morph to -100.00. Finally, add the Ring prop to your scene.

Step 8
Now let’s add some lights; 3D lighting is a fairly complex subject. As a general rule it’s best to add a distant light first (from the Create drop-down menu), then add your Spotlights. Again, use the Viewport layout option to best position your lights using the Translation sliders.

There are numerous options such as Shadow Type, Shadow Softness and Illumination, so it’s best to experiment here. Next, hit Cmd/Ctrl + R to do a test render. When you’re happy go to Render > Render Settings and select the Letter preset (1) and save as a .png (2).

Step 9
Select and delete the Ring and other props, unlock the right hand and go to File > Save As. Repose using the M4_012 preset (Poses > DAZ’s Michael 4 > General Poses) (1). Now adjust the camera settings for a more dramatic angle (2), select Michael’s head and adjust the Expression Parameter dials (3). You can also select his moustache and set the dials to follow his expression. Now render to 3,000×3,522 pixels (4).

Step 10
Launch Photoshop, set your foreground and background to black and #192e55 respectively. Create a new canvas measuring 23×31.7cm at 300dpi, in RGB mode, with the background set to Background Color.

Add a central guide, then a new layer named ‘Grad’. Shift + drag a linear gradient down using the Foreground to Transparent preset, set its opacity to 85% and change the blending mode to Multiply. Next, open Frame.psd and Shift + drag its layer thumbnail as a new layer. Name it ‘Border’.

Step 11
Add your initial render as a new layer placed in a group folder called ‘ALBERTO’. Select Layer > Matting > Defringe by 1 pixel. Transform and position it in the top right corner as shown, and label it ‘Lifting’. Hold Alt/Opt while selecting a Curves Adjustment (1), then the Clipping Mask option (2). Now choose the Strong Contrast Preset (3). You can now drop the opacity of the adjustment layer to taste.

Repeat this step for your second render and label it ‘Posing’.

Step 12
Add a mask to your ‘ALBERTO’ folder, then drop in a new layer called ‘Circle’ below ‘Lifting’. Fill a circular selection using a white to #ffff9a radial gradient, then give it a layer style using an 18-pixel stroke in #981417, set to Outside.

Go to Layer Style > Create Layer. Now Cmd/Ctrl + click your ‘Border’ layer to generate a selection, target the mask and use a black brush to hide the overlaps. Now make a layer-based selection from the ‘Lifting’ layer to reinstate the block weight using a white brush. Mask the ‘Grad’ layer.

Step 13
Add a new group folder at the top of the stack and label it accordingly. Add text on separate layers. Keep your design authentic-looking and choose fonts that are reminiscent of Edwardian posters and broadsides. Add Stroked Layer Styles, then apply the Transform > Warp presets on the bolder bits of text.

Step 14
Add a new layer above your text folder and go to Image > Apply Image. Next, set your foreground and background to black and white respectively, then select Filter > Convert for Smart Filters. Go to Filter > Sketch > Photocopy, set the detail to 6 and the darkness to 7. Now set the ‘Merged’ layer’s blending mode to Linear Burn at 70% opacity.

Step 15
Now to rough it up a bit. Create a new folder at the top of the stack called ‘DISTRESS’ and Shift + drag Grunge_1.jpg from the cover CD across as a new layer, setting its blending mode to Soft Light. Add Grunge_2.jpg in the same way, and set it to 80% opacity.

Step 16
Add a #fff000 Solid Colour adjustment layer above the ‘DISTRESS’ folder, set to Multiply and 25% opacity. Finally, add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and use the following: master saturation: -16, red saturation: -20, yellow saturation: -19. These adjustment layers desaturate and tone down the harsh whites.

Mark Mayers –

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4 responses to “Create vintage poster art using Photoshop and Daz Studio

  1. Pingback: gabriel catalano | in-perfección

  2. How well would this effect work on an actual photo (real person)? Will the Max Muscles Pose library still work?

  3. Pingback: Fresh and Excellent Photoshop Tutorials For Designing Posters (From 2010) | TechFleck

  4. Pingback: Beautiful Photoshop Poster Design Tutorials | Web Design Core

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