Create a Dark and Grungy Poster in Photoshop

By   |  Stashed in Design & Drawing


Overview of the Tutorial

Today we’re going to be creating the dark and grungy poster you see below. You will also find links to the stock images we will be using in this tutorial. This tutorial focuses heavily on blending images together to achieve a desired effect.

The Files



Step 1

Open image 1 in photoshop. While searching for this image all I was looking for was the general layout and colors. Keep this in mind if you’re following the tutorial using your own images and going your own way with it.


Now we’re going to apply a gaussian blur which will leave the overall color and feel of the image without any of the detail.


Adjust the radius until you have exactly what you need. This will usually fall somewhere between 40 and 80.


This gives us the base for our background image.


Step 2

Now open image #2 (you’ll notice there are 5 textures in this pack, I used #103 but you can choose whichever you prefer) and paste it into a new layer. The texture is quite a bit larger than our original image so we need to shrink it down a bit. To do this press ctrl+t and you’ll see the border of the texture extending beyond the poster.


Grab the corner that extends beyond the image and drag it up to the corner of the image. Since this is just a texture it doesn’t matter that we’re warping it a bit. That will just add to the character :). Then check the green checkmark in the toolbar to commit the transform.


Next we want to find a good way to blend the two layers allowing our texture to add some grungyness to our background. We’ll do this with with layer blending mode and opacity.


I ended up going with Pin Light with an opacity of 52%, but you can just play around with it until you find something you like.


Step 3

Next we’re going to add some shadows to the edges to give the background some depth. Create a new layer and with a 100px brush create a black border with some variance where you would like to have more/less shadows. It doesn’t have to look good at this point, we just need a rough border.


Apply gaussian blur to this layer and take the radius all the way up to 250 this time.


And now we have our grungy background.


Step 4

Now it’s time to add the other elements. Paste the door image into a new layer and resize it (using ctrl+t). Only this time we want to maintain the proportions of the door, so hold down the shift key while resizing.


We just want the door, nothing around it so select the rectangular marquee tool and select the door.


Go to select and choose inverse to select all of the image around the door and hit delete to get rid of it.


Now we’re left with just the door floating out among our background. Press ctrl+d to clear the selection.


Step 5

We want the door to blend in with the background so set the door layer to darken with an opacity of 75%. Again, you can play with different settings to find something you like.


Step 6

Now we need to clean up the door a bit. Notice that there is a line left over at the bottom of the door. Since we want it to look like the door is completely blending into the background, we want to erase that line. We also want to get rid of the wire running across the door. We’ll use the clone tool to do that. If you don’t know how the clone tool works, see “The Basics” in Useful Applications for the Clone Stamp Tool.


Step 7

Now it’s time to add the words. I want to do Breaking Barriers where the two words share the B. So first, let’s do a single uppercase B around 500px in size. Now add the rest of the words in a size around 200px and position them as you see in the image.


Step 8

Select all three layers and rasterize then merge them. Set the merged layer to Overlay with an opacity of 100%. The text ended up being a bit more of a brown than I would have liked, I want to make it more of a red like the door. So we double click on the preview image of the text layer to bring up the layer style box. Check Color Overlay, choose a fairly bright red then bring the opacity down to aprox 20%.


Reposition the text to your liking and we’re finished.


Final Thoughts

So that’s it for this tutorial. I hope this explains well enough the process I use to develop our wallpapers and such. We actually had a reader request this type of tutorial from us and we hope it shone a little light in some new areas. Leave me a comment to let us know what you thought of the tutorial and how your design turned out if you worked through it.

About the Author

Angie Bowen is a freelance web & graphic designer and co-founder of Arbenting and Dead Wings Designs.

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  • shaun

    Thanks for this! Very easy to follow along and great results.
    do more!

  • Tim Smith

    Love the tutorial!! Awesome outcome!

  • Kimcool

    Nice tutorials.

    Kimcool´s last post was… You are not a Designer IF…

  • Angie Bowen

    Thanks so much for the comments everyone. I’m really glad you all found it helpful and easy to follow. I was a bit nervous about it since it was my first photoshop tutorial. I’ll definitely be doing more in the months to come :)

  • Thomas | Tutorial King

    Great tutorial Angie, just featured on TutorialKing

  • nad

    a very useful tutorial indeed… thanks for sharing! :)

    nad´s last post was… Nomad Ink Design Studio

  • Its only R&R

    Im only starting out in PS and this helps…. Love TUTS that explain the detail well! Thanks!


  • BeyonDesign

    Angie…good stuff. One thing to consider with your TUTS, and work moving forward—never delete layer information. Start using layer masks on everything you do.

    For examply in editing your door–if you wanted to go back in to adjust, add, modify the door borders, or to use some of that beautiful stone texture you would have to start over with placing the door etc. Rather than deleting this info–use a layer mask. In more complex designs down the road, or when dealing with clients this skill will be invaluable. Teach everyone this from the start..

  • Johnson Koh

    This is very detailed. Great work Angie!

    Johnson Koh´s last post was… Pixel Art Mania I – The Artists

  • photo retouching

    A really detailed and interesting tutorial. Some really great photo retouching work done!

  • Mark

    this is perfect. thanks for sharing! my photoshop skills are so limited and stuff like this really opens my eyes to the possibilities that are out there.

  • Liam McCabe

    Nice simple tutorial. Well done! :)

    Liam McCabe´s last post was… Fantastic Free eBook for Creative Designers!

  • ProjectCenter

    Nice effect. Thanks for the step by step. For some reason I thought there were more steps.

    ProjectCenter´s last post was… What’s your USP?

  • bebopdesigner

    Excellent tut! Very well explained. The result is beautiful. Cheers

  • Mike

    Well done! Thanks for this one!

  • Jack G.

    Great tutorial, but for the younger, less technical readers who want to make a handmade poster, may a site like could be helpful.

    Keep up the great Photoshop tutorials!


  • Free Classifieds weekly posting service

    Excellent tut! Very well explained. The result is beautiful. Cheers

  • clippingimages

    Awesome tutorial. Thanks for sharing this nice tutorial.

  • Online Photoshop

    Thats pretty cool . good job

  • Online logo deisgn

    Very well explained. The result is beautiful. Cheers

  • Drazr

    Very interesting ! Its a nice tutorial for designing Grungy poster . Everything is is well explained , I’ll must give it a try ! Thanks anyways !

  • InformationArch

    Its really a nice tutorial & a very nice use of Blur tool . I usually use this tool for making think bit faded . I’ll try your method for another image . Hope to design it well . Thanks for sharing though!

  • InformationArch

    Very Interesting method of using Gaussian Blur , I usually use this effect in making wordpress themes . But starting from the scratch and making a cool poster is a fun and for this one need to practice such tutorials again and again . thanks to admin for posting this tutorial !

  • STen

    Great lesson! Thx a lot!

  • Sergey

    excellent tutorial, but to me, as a newcomer, vseravno difficult to master all this …

  • Global Photo Retouching

    Moody, and a great use of light, thanks so much.

  • DirectoryDean

    Beautiful work!

  • lirik

    great tutorial.. thanks for sharing


    Very good techniques used here, thank you.

  • Clipping Path

    gr8 work! it was very helpful for me :)
    thanks a lot for sharing with us.

  • The Photo Retoucher

    Some great work and looks like everyone else who has commented loves it too! The textures are great and I love the vignette.

  • Mohammad Ashour

    Love the way the door blends into the background. Great effect with minimal effort. Love it.