This post was originally published in 2008
The tips and techniques explained may be outdated.

Using simple shapes can produce some great looking contemporary designs that fit well as impactful posters, a good example being the recent Trendy Geometric Lines tutorial. This time we'll look at stripping back the tools to creating an interesting and eye-catching poster with a single typographic word.

typographic poster design

typographic poster design

Find a random image to base the design on, the subject of the photo isn't at all important, just choose a picture with varied contrast and preferably tailored towards your chosen colour scheme. In this case I've picked out a landscape scene with a mix of blues and greens.

typographic poster design

Open up the image in Adobe Photoshop and resize accordingly.

typographic poster design

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, drag the slider almost all the way to the maximum to completely disguise the original subject and blend together the colours and tones.

typographic poster design

Head over to the fantastic Bittbox.com and download one of the free high-res textures. Place the texture on a new layer in the Photoshop document.

typographic poster design

Desaturate the image then change the blending mode to Soft Light and drop the opacity to suit, adding a little detail and roughness to the image.

typographic poster design

With the Type Tool, write out your desired wording. Of course, I have used the word SPOON and set in the bold and prominent Helvetica Condensed Black.

typographic poster design

Rotate the block of text to 45 degrees (hold shift to constrain the angle). Set the blending mode to Soft Light to allow the underlying texture to show through.

typographic poster design

Position the text to encroach onto the document covering the top corner. Whilst holding ALT drag a copy of the text and scale into a new position.

typographic poster design

Hold the ALT key and drag two more copies of the text, resize them and position to fill out space on the document.

typographic poster design

With the next copy, rotate the text by 90 degrees leaving it perpendicular to the other variations. Move the text into place leaving the same gap between the other text objects.

typographic poster design

typographic poster design

Create more instances of the text and rotate and scale into varying positions, ensure that each block aligns to the diagonal gridlines of the composition that are being formed.

typographic poster design

When gaps appear in the document, visualise how the word can be scaled or rotated to fill the gap whilst aligning to the gridline and leaving the same gap around the objects.

typographic poster design

typographic poster design

typographic poster design

Also take into consideration the spread of large and small instances of the text to ensure that the sizes are varied without clusters of similar sized objects creating an unwanted focal point.

typographic poster design

With multiple copies of the text being scaled and rotated into place the document is now completely filled.

typographic poster design

Make any final tweaks to the poster such as altering the overall layout and making small edits to the individual objects, leaving a trendy poster design based almost solely on a typographic layout of a single word!

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84 Comments

  1. Great image. I’ve done something similar before, and what’s great is that utilising photography and texture in the background adds a certain depth that’s almost subliminal.

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  2. Cool tutorial – I always struggle with random backgrounds. Mine always look a little forced, I never thought to use an image and blur it to get a random effect.

    It’s the simple ideas that are the best…

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  3. great tut! I tried inverting the text and then changing the blending mode to screen so the background image would show through.

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  4. Nice, really nice.

    Like many of the comments here, I really like the use of an image and Gaussian blur to create a simple yet beautiful background on which to place the text.

    I’m planning on using this technique to create a bunch of desktop backgrounds, using the server name as the text to use on our company servers to make it quick and easy, yet aesthetically pleasing to identify which server one’s about to shutdown ;)

    Thank you.

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  5. Wow, I guess I need more knowledge of photoshop. The instructions were not quite detailed enough for a beginner. More intermediate.. Still, your design looks great.

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