Abstract poster effects

Make your mark with strong but simple shapes and bold, read-my-lips colours: Danilo Rodrigues shows you how.

It’s hard to pinpoint what makes this image so direct and powerful. Perhaps it’s the symmetry of the piece, and the way all the elements conspire to draw the viewer’s gaze to the centre.

Or it might be the clean, geometric shapes, shaded in an uncluttered, Art Deco style. Maybe the colour palette, with its CMYK simplicity and Nu-Rave overtones, has something to do with it.

Or is it the way it combines a classic 1960s Retro-Futurist feel – complete with space-age images – with a slightly textured backdrop, hinting at the hand-made? In this great tutorial, graphic designer Danilo Rodrigues shares a wealth of techniques that you can use to add some of this graphic’s oomph and impact to your designs.

01. Open Adobe Illustrator and create a new document, sized 600-x-600mm or thereabouts. We’ll start by creating the abstract vectors to use in our composition. For this, create a grey rectangle (we’ll colourize them afterwards in Photoshop) sized 17-x- 385pts. Try to make other forms, such as a star using the Star tool.

02. Now, click Effect > 3D > Extrude Bevel. As in this picture, set the Extrude Depth to 365pt and set the Bevel to Complex 3, with a height of 4pt. Set the angles however you like; on this abstract vector, I set x to -144º, y to 36º and z to –2º.

03. Notice that you can get many different and interesting forms with the Extrude Bevel tool. Try to experiment another Bevel types and other values to get the most of this effect. You can control the lights and the perspective too. Use other primary shapes, such as spheres, triangles and stars, as in this picture.

04. Now that you’ve explored the abstract forms of Extrude Bevel, save the file (you can save to .eps if you prefer). In Photoshop, create a new A4 document at 300dpi resolution and import the Illustrator file. Right-click (Cmd + click) in the layer and choose Rasterize Layer. Now, we will colourize our abstract form. Click Image > Adjustments > Gradient Map, and select a gradient that goes from orange to yellow to orange.

05. Now that you’ve colourized the abstract form, let’s put more contrast in the colours. Click Image > Adjustments > Levels. Try to put more ‘life’ in the oranges, red and yellows. After that, select a soft brush sized around 300 pixels, create a new layer and add shadow underneath the abstract shape: this creates greater depth for the form.

06. Now, duplicate the element and explore all the forms of composition, applying other kinds of size and angles. Flip the form horizontally and vertically to get the desired look. Click Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation, and try other colours with the abstract shapes. You can use other forms (like the star with Extrude Bevel) and repeat the same process that we used before.

07. Let’s create other elements for our composition. In a new layer, create a black diamond in the centre of the canvas. The diamond will be key to integrating all the other elements of the composition. Import sky.jpg from the cover CD and put beside the black diamond; duplicate it to the other side, too.

08. Import texture01.jpg from the cover CD. Click Image > Adjustments > Gradient Map and choose a black-to-white gradient. To put more contrast in the texture, select Image > Adjustments > Levels. Use the Polygonal Lasso tool, to make forms using the texture. Try to integrate those forms with the abstracts that we colourized before.

09. Now we’ll duplicate the ‘blocks’ of forms that we made. Select all the layers of the block and click Edit > Free Transform > Flip Horizontal. Duplicate three times, as in this image (two blocks above and two below). This will make the composition symmetrical.

10. Now let’s add in the composition’s central element. Import moon.jpg from the cover CD and use the Elliptical Marquee Tool to cut out the background. Duplicate the moon and click Image > Adjustments > Gradient Map, choose the Black > White gradient and set the blending mode to Soft Light.

11. To get a feeling of old astronomy images, let’s create some circles around the moon. To do that, create a black circle with the Ellipse Tool. Click Layer > Layer Style > Stroke and set the size to 7 pixels. Set Gradient in the fill type and choose a blackto- magenta gradient. Repeat the process using other stroke colours, like orange and blue.

12. Next, we need to create the adjustment layers. These should be above the other layers in the canvas. Create a new layer, name it Exclusion, and give it a blue background with this hexadecimal number: 263248. Set the blend mode to Soft Light. This treatment will soften the ‘whites’ of the image. Click Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels and check the contrast of the composition.

13. Finally, import texturepaper.jpg from the cover CD. To get a feeling of old paper, click Image > Adjustments > Gradient Map and choose the gradient black-to-white. Use Levels or Brightness/Contrast to get more blacks and whites from the texture. Now set the blend mode to Screen.

14. Now you’re done! I wrote a song lyric in the centre of the moon image using the Avant Garde font. Try using other elements to complement the composition, like fonts and brushes.

Author’s URL:  Danilo Rodrigues


2 responses to “Abstract poster effects

  1. wow…. i dont have photoshop or anything like it…. so this type of “vector” i guess…… is very interesting 🙂

  2. nice tutorial an pls give more information about illustrator cs3 and photoshop cs3

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