In this tutorial I’ll show you how to create a professional and beautiful poster. I will tell you the basic idea of creating a poster, interesting techniques and teach you by my example. I’ll tell you about a few filters of the new version of Photoshop and their capabilities, and show how to create a realistic picture, a beautiful toning to the image and much more.

What you’ll be creating

In this tutorial we will examine the possibility of creating a realistic picture, atmospheric effects, work with adjustment layers, create brushes and most importantly try it all in action. First, I will create a background. Of several images I make realistic city and add clouds and color correction. Then I added the model and adjust image with the filter “Camera Raw”. Then will create the effect of rain on clothes. The next will be to create an atmosphere and detail to the image. The final step will be to increase the sharpness and color correction. It is desirable to have a Adobe Photoshop CC but you can completely create this picture in any CS version.


Tutorial Resources

Step 1

So, before beginning this tutorial I want to do a little introduction. The poster is an art. As in every case, there are certain traditions and rules. Many people do not notice it, but the effect is always there. There are 8 basic items that should be in the poster: 1. Weapons. 2. Clouds/Smoke 3. Buildings. 4. Fragments/Debris/Sparks. 5. Atmospheric phenomena (like rain). 6. Ambient/Edge Light. 7. Fire/Explosion. 8. Main Character/Object. Each poster must be at least 5 items to achieve the desired effect. All of these elements in are alternately occur in any poster, regardless of genre or idea. I chose the following sequence: Weapons > Clouds/Smoke > Buildings > Main Character > Edge Light > Rain.

And now opening Photoshop and get started! Create a new document via Cmd/Ctrl + N or File > New at 2400 pixels wide and 3000 pixels height, resolution 300 Pixels/Inch.


Step 2

Go to File > Place…/Place Embedded and open skyscraper image. Transform it (Ctrl/Cmd+ T or Edit > Free Transform) to size of working field and tap Enter/Return to apply changes.


Step 3

Now I have changed a bit the image to better fit my idea. Not to create a large number of adjustment layers, I used only one filter – Camera Raw. This is a very powerful and useful tool that can be used to correct not only RAW files. Go to Filter > Camera Raw. Perhaps your window of this filter will be slightly different, but the setting will remain the same. Let’s start with color. First you need change image contrast and balance black and white colors. Set Exposure: -0.20, Contrast: +6, Highlights: +4, Shadow: +20, Whites: -3, Blacks: +3, Clarity: +40, Vibrance: +15, Saturation: +5.


Then I increased the sharpness of the image. Click on the tab “Sharpness” in this window and set the following settings first for “Noise Reduction” – Luminance: 10, Luminance Detail: 50. Now add a little sharpness. Set for “Sharpening” – Amount: 15, Radius: 1.5, Detail: 25. Apply changes by clicking OK. So much easier and more convenient to prepare and adjust the image without extra layers.


Step 4

To create a depth image I dimmed the city. This will help make the picture more realistic. Create a new layer by clicking on a “Create a new layer” icon on Layer Panel or use Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N. Select the Brush tool (B) then set the Soft Round brush with Size to 500 pixels, Hardness to 0%, Opacity to 100%, color: # 4e7fa5. Paint over middle of the city. Do not draw too high, because the fog should not go to the sky. Set layer Blending Mode to “Screen” and reduce Opacity to 90%, Fill to 50%.


Step 5

To complete the picture, I added an image to the first plan. This is our main stage. Go to File > Place…/Place Embedded and open city image. First you need a flip it. Right – click in Transform Mode > Flip Horizontal… (Ctrl/Cmd+ T or Edit > Free Transform). Then resize image to size of working field and now the most interesting – you need to align the perspective of the image that the city did not go to the left, and was flat in the frontal projection. Right click > Perspective… Use the corner points to “squeeze” the image itself and the side point, to raise or lower the slope of the image. Try not to overdo it and do as shown in the image below.


Now remove the sky. To make a selection, use Color Range… Go to Select > Color Range… and set Select: “Sampled Colors”, eyedropper with “+” in this window or hold Shift and spend all the shades of the sky. Be careful not to add the color of the town. To make the selection more accurate, set Fuzziness to 20. This method is very good and at skilful use, make easier selection of objects when their background is different in color.


It remains only to add a layer mask. Hold Opt/Alt (to add inverse layer mask) and click on “Add a mask” icon or go to Layer > Layer Mask > Hide Selection.


Step 6

We now present the city in accordance with the general atmosphere. I convenient to use for this useful adjustment layer “Gradient Map”. Go to Layer > New Adjustment layer > Gradient Map… or use “Add adjustment layer” icon on bottom of Layer panel. Right away make from this layer a clipping mask by using icon at the bottom of this window.


Then click on gradient to create a new gradient. At the top of the dialogue box, on the right side there is a small gear. Click on it to open additional properties. The lower list is available Photoshop default gradients. Add “Photographic Toning” and in the popup window click “Append”. Use blue gradient shown below. Set Blending Mode to “Hue” to change color but leaves brightness and saturation as on original image.


Step 7

Repeat step 4 for this image to this part of the city was in the general atmosphere and did not stand out. But this time Blending Mode “Screen”, Opacity: 25, Fill: 65.


Step 8

What could be the poster without fanning and tense atmosphere (in the example of this picture)? The sky is very well managed and complements the mood and story of the picture (because we plan that we want to get). Place image of sky and resize it to the size of the working field. But do not rush to apply the changes. Take the midpoint of the bottom and move up it a bit. This will change the perspective of clouds that will help harmoniously and correctly place them in the sky in accordance with the city.


Step 9

Use any portion of the sky, but I liked the right part. It is intense and harmonious. The remaining parts a much overload the picture or not expanding it. Before proceeding further, I removed the noise from the photo that it does not spoil the final result. Go to Filter > Noise > Noise Reduction… In window that appear set Strength to 10, Preserve Details to : 10%, Reduce Color Noise to 10% and check box on “Remove JPEG Artifact”. This will be enough to get rid of the noise and preserve details. If you want to achieve good results you have to take care of every detail and be careful.


Add a layer mask to this image (use icon on Layer panel or go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All). Use large soft brush (Size: 300px, Opacity: 100%) and brushed with black color on a layer mask everything except the sky. Change Blending Mode to “Overlay”. Group all city layers by selecting all layers and press Cmd/Ctrl + G or use icon on Layer panel.


Step 10

When you change the blending mode, the clouds are well superimposed on the image but showed their colors. To get rid of the colors, use an adjustment layer Black & White from Adjustment panel or from Layer > New Adjustment layer > Black & White… Make from this layer a clipping mask to sky layer and set Preset: “Green Filter”. You can try different presets to change the light/shadow map.


Duplicate original sky layer (Cmd/Ctrl + J or go to Layer > Duplicate layer) and move it to front of Layer panel. Set Opacity around 30%, Fill to 50%.


Step 11

I decided to add a bit of action and create beams of light over the city. This will add drama and fiction. Create a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N or Layer > New > Layer). Use Brush Tool (B) with size: 70 – 30px, Opacity: 50% and Hardness: 0% to draw a beams. Use colors from this image or use #3f92de and #84bedc like me. Does not matter how and where to place the beams, but it is better not to occupy the center, because in that place there will be a model. Set Blending Mode to “Screen”.


Same thing with a smoke. Create a new layer, upload a “effects_brushes_by_vincdesign-d4mwjs4” brush set in Photoshop and use “CLOD 3” brush with Size 250 – 500px, Opacity: 35 – 70% and color: #c4c4c4. Change the brush size depending on how far you where you want to apply it. Also, first draw mainstream smoke. Then use Eraser Tool (E) with same settings as a brush and make it more voluminous by erase some parts. Use several layers to control Opacity and then merge them (Cmd/Ctrl + E or Layer > Merge Layers…).


Now that everything is ready, click on a group “city” and create a merged copy Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + Shift + E and convert this layer to Smart Object (right click on layer > Convert to Smart Object).


Step 12

Now the depth of field. This is very important because we are creating a portrait/poster, and in this case, attention should be drawn to main character. I give you two options: as I did and alternative. I have Adobe Photoshop CC 2014 and use Tilt-Shift blur from Blur Gallery. This new features in this version, so if you have a different version of Photoshop a description of an alternative version of a little lower. First Tilt-Shift blur. Go to Filter > Blur Gallery > Tilt-Shift… Move the center circle at the lower boundary of the working field. In the upper right window settings (check that there was only one checked – Tilt-Shift) set Blur: 10px, Distortion: 0. In the lower window set Light Bokeh: 30%, Color Bokeh: 20% and click OK to apply filter.


Now for those who are using a different version there is an alternative way to achieve the desired effect. Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur… In window that appears set Radius to 10px and click Ok.


Take a Gradient Tool, set default black & white gradient and background/Foreground colors (D) with linear method. Apply gradient on filter layer mask from Bottom to black roofs of buildings from the first plan (this will remove the effect of the filter on the first plan). And then you get a similar effect.


Step 13

I decided to add a gradient to the sky to darken the upper part of the image. For this I used an adjustment layer “Gradient Fill” with the preset “Foreground to Transparent” but change gradient to #0a131d > #838383, Style: Linear. Change Blending Mode to this layer on “Multiply”, Opacity: 70%, Fill: 30%.


Step 14

Here we come to the second part of our photomontage. In this part, we will work with the model. First, add the image of a model in a working document and resize it (Ctrl/Cmd+ T or Edit > Free Transform) like shown in image below. Another piece of advice – periodically flip image horizontally so you can properly assess your composition and see it from a new angle (Image > Image Rotation > Flip Horizontal).


Much better! Now increase the sharpness and remove noise. In this image you can clearly observe the color noise, and it must be removed first. Go to tab “Sharpness” in this window and set the following settings “Noise Reduction” – Luminance: 35, Luminance Detail: 35, Luminance Contrast: 0, Color: 22, Color Detail: 50, Color Smoothness: 50. Now add a little sharpness. Set for “Sharpening” – Amount: 5, Radius: 1.0, Detail: 25. Apply changes by clicking OK.


Step 15

Use Pen Tool (P) to create a path around model and then make selection from it by clicking on “Make Selection” button on tool properties panel. Set Feather Radius to 0 and click OK. I advise you to use Pen Tool (P) because when used carefully, you get a good selection without losing detail. Other tools can spoil the image in the illuminated areas.


Use Refine Edge (Select > Refine Edge…) to remove background from hairs. Just use brush in this window and draw on hairs. Set check box on Smart Radius, set Radius: 1.0px, Shift Edge: -5% and click OK. Now you can add a layer mask to remove the background. Click on “Add a layer mask” icon or go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal Selection.


Step 16

To align the lighting model and the background I used an adjustment layer “Gradient Map” (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map… or use icon on Layer panel) with the gradient from step 6 that you already familiar. Just in case, I repeat #030303 > #131818 > #2e597b > #4d90b4 > #94cef1 > #f2ffff > #ffffff. This will cause on the model desired shade. And do not forget clip this layer and change Blending Mode to “Overlay”, Opacity to 70%, Fill to 60%.


And now to soften the bright areas on the model and lead saturation to desired condition, add another one clipped adjustment layer “Gradient Map” with the gradient #030303 > # 0c0b0b > #413f3e > #77736a > #bebbb4 > #eae8e4 > #ffffff. We need to affect on highlights so set Blending Mode to “Multiply” and reduce Opacity to 70%, Fill to 65%.


Step 17

Some areas require manual adjustments. I created a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl + Shit + N) with Blending Mode “Multiply” and medium (150 – 250px) soft round brush (Opacity: 20%, Color: Black from model), brushed light areas and add shadows to the model to make it realistic in this environment. Make from this layer a Clipping Mask (Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + G or hold Opt/Alt and click between layers).


Step 18

As I wrote earlier, you need to add small details and weather conditions to the picture. My choice was the rain. This weather event very well accentuate the drama and tension of the situation. But I’ll start with a drop on a model’s clothes. You do not need other resources to create a realistic drop. Just create a brush and add style to the layer. First, set the brush. In Brush Presets panel choose Hard Round brush and go to brush settings (Brush panel – F5). Set Size: 8px, Spacing: 150%. Go to Shape Dynamics and there set Size Jitter: 100%, Angle Jitter: 35%, Roundness Jitter: 45%. In next tab “Scattering” set Scatter: 1000%, Cont 1 and save you’re brush by clicking on “Create new brush” icon.


Step 19

When our brush is ready, you need to configure the layer. That layer has the effect of a drop, brush is only form. Create a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N or use icon on Layer Panel), set Blending Mode to “Overlay” and Fill to 20% and add two Layer Styles – “Bevel & Emboss” and “Satin” (Layer > Layer Styles > Bevel % Emboss…/ Satin… or use icon “Add a layer style”).


Let’s start from “Bevel & Emboss”. Set Style: Pillow Emboss, Technique: Smooth, Direction: Up, Size: 1px, Soften: 4px. In “Shading” section set Angle: 23 degrees, Altitude: 21 degrees. Highlight/Shadow Opacity: 75%.


On “Satin” tab set Blend Mode “Screen”, Opacity: 13%, Distance: 73px, Size: 122px. and click OK to apply styles.


Step 20

Now on the first layer paint drops. Using the brush we created earlier with white color. Try not to drop merged into one big spot. Reduce the size of the brush to make smaller drops. It is not necessary to draw everything on one layer. I created two more layers with the same settings from the previous step and drew a bigger drop and long. Draw a drop on clothing and model’s weapon. The main thing do not overdo it and do not make too big a drop, you’ll lose the realism of the image. Group all model’s layers into one group “Model” (Cmd/Ctrl + G or Layer > Group Layers).


Step 21

Here we come to the last part of our photo manipulation, namely, the effects of the environment and correction. Create a new group by clicking on icon “Create a new group” icon and new layer in it. First I added bokeh. Use brush from Step 18 but much larger (120 – 250px) and Opacity around 50% with colors #ffffff, #86bcd8 and #193958. Draw bokeh in the upper left and lower right corners, set Blending Mode to “Screen”, Opacity around 40%, Fill around 25%.


Add a bit of smoke in the foreground, the model fit into the overall environment. Create a new layer and use techniques from a second paragraph on Step 11. Use large brush to create realistic texture.


Step 22

To finish with atmospheric effects create rain. Hold Opt/Alt and click on “Create a new layer” icon. In window that appear, set Mode: Screen and check box on “Fill with Screen – neutral color (Black)”. Go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise and set Amount around 30, Gaussian, Monochromatic.


Next add some blur to make the falling drops large and visible. Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur… Set Radius 1.0 pixel. Go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur… Set Angle: -75, Distance: 25px.


Step 23

Transform this layer (Cmd/Ctrl + T or Edit > Free Transform) and increase Scale proportionally (click on the “link” icon between values) to 150%. Add an adjustment layer “Levels” and make clipping mask from it (Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + G). Set following values to each slider: Black: 41, Gray: 0.83, White: 106.


Select rain layer and “Levels” adjustment layer and duplicate it (Cmd/Ctrl + J or Layer Duplicate Layers…). Then merge it into one (Cmd/Ctrl + E or Layer > Merge Layers). Change layer Blending Mode to “Screen” and Fill to 80%. Group there three layers in one group. Set group Blending Mode to “Screen” and add adjustment layer “Levels” with settings like Black: 0, Gray: 0.80, White: 255. Rain is ready! You can enjoy the results.


Step 24

To lighting effects and the environment is always advantageous to add flare. This decoration is useful in many cases, and looks very nice. In archive with glares “Big Lens And Optical Flare Collection” find the picture “Blurry Blue By CodeDraco” and place this image into working document. Resize it to size of the working field, change Blending Mode to “Screen”, Fill to 75%. Add a layer mask and with black brush remove contour of flare image. I felt that the position the highlight on the tower will be interesting, but you can use more glare elsewhere. Nobody stop you.


Step 25

We finished with the ambient effects and now in the finishing touches. First you need create a merged copy of entire image (Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + Shift + E) and convert it to Smart Object (Layer > Smart Objects > Convert to Smart Object). Go to Filter > Sharpen > Smart Sharpen… Set the values as shown in the image below. This sharpness up the entire image including you can manually adjust the sharpness of shadows and light.


The second stage of sharpening will work with the details. Go to Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask… Set Amount: 111%, Radius: 0.8px, Threshold: 1 levels.


Step 26

Now add the main spot of color. It is necessary to focus the viewer on the main character. Add adjustment layer “Gradient Fill” with following gradient #030303 > #0d2f4b > #144a68 > #4b90a5 > #92cfd2 > #d8eee3 > #ffffff, Mode: Radial, Scale: 150%, Reverse. Set Blending Mode to “Soft Light”, Opacity around 70%, Fill around 60%.



Step 27

And in the final add some contrast. I used an adjustment layer “Curves“. I edited the curve for each channel to show contrast in certain areas of the image. Use image below to set up curves. Set Blending Mode to “Luminosity” and you’re done!


Final Results

That’s the end! I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and you’ll find there are a lot of useful information. This is the final result. Now you can add the desired text and create a poster or cover.


Download the PSD

Tutorial by Maria Semelevich


Create This Magnificent Sniper Artwork In Photoshop

Article Name

Create This Magnificent Sniper Artwork in Photoshop


In this tutorial I’ll show you how to create a professional and beautiful poster. I will tell you the basic idea of creating a poster, interesting techniques and teach you by my example. I’ll tell you about a few filters of the new version of Photoshop and their capabilities, and show how to create a realistic picture, a beautiful toning to the image and much more.


Maria Semelevich

Publisher Name

Photoshop Tutorials

Publisher Logo


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