Create a Retro-Futuristic Space Poster in Photoshop
recently watched the movies Alien & Aliens and marvelled at each
movie’s cover art, which gave me the inspiration for this tutorial. Both
movies have a futuristic theme but this is combined with heavy grain
from the outdated print techniques, creating that awesome
retro-futuristic style. Follow this step by step Photoshop tutorial to
create your own space themed poster design with intense lighting effects
and distressed textures.
space poster design we’ll be creating features a fantasy sci-fi scene
with the planet LV-426 and its moon being the clear subject. We’ll use
various resources to create the planet, as well as the array of whispy
nebulae, then give the whole poster that aged retro style with some
heavy grain and muted colours.
View the retro futuristic space poster design
Begin by opening up Photoshop and creating a document at your desired poster size. Download a paper texture
for use as the background. Desaturate it and reduce the levels until
it’s barely visible. This paper texture not only provides a grainy
texture to capture the retro poster style, but the lighting effects
we’ll be adding later will only work against a tonal background (not
Download a rust or concrete texture to represent the land mass of your planet. Use the Elliptical Marquee tool to crop the texture into a circle.
to Filter > Distort > Spherize and alter the amount to around 50%
to warp the flat circle into more of a three dimensional object.
the planet into the main composition and adjust the levels to increase
the contrast, then add a couple of Sharpen filters to bring out the
up the layer styles window and add an Inner Glow to the planet using
the settings white, Overlay and Size of around 100px. This gives the
planet an atmospheric glow.
an Outer Glow layer style using the settings grey-blue, Color Dodge and
around 40px Size to take the hard edge off the planet outline.
on the planet layer’s thumbnail in the Layers palette to load its
selection and fill the circle with black on a new layer. Move the black
circle diagonally to mask a portion of the planet.
Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and add a substantial amount of blurring to create a realistic shadow effect.
Browse the stock photo galleries for some cirrus cloud images. Desaturate the image then adjust the Levels to render the background sky black.
the cloud images into space composition and change the blend mode to
Color Dodge. Adjust the opacity to tone down the impact of these nebulae
the cloud images underneath the main planet layer to allow the Color
Dodge Outer Glow to interact with the nebulae and create cool flare
colours from the planet texture and dab large soft spots around the
background on a new layer. Change this layer’s blending mode to Color to
add some vibrancy to the design.
Download a set of lens flare images and position a flare over the edge of the planet.
the blend mode of the flare to Screen to render the black area
transparent. Overlap two flare images for an intense light effect.
another planet using the same steps to create a small orbiting moon,
but this time make a selection of the black shadow layer and delete it
from the texture to allow the moon to blend with the nebulae clouds.
the moon layer and change the blending mode to Color Dodge. Add a
Gaussian Blur of around 5px to create a luminous highlight on the top
up a small brush with 50% hardness and sizes between 2-5px. Randomly
dab spots around the document to create stars, using the shortcuts [ and
] to increase and decrease the brush size.
off the design with some futuristic typography and design elements.
Here I’ve used inspiration from the Alien movies with the planet name
in a portion of the texture used for the planet, load a selection of
the design elements by CMD+Clicking on each layer thumbnail while
holding Shift, inverse the selection and delete away the excess from the
texture. Trash the original text and design element layers and change
this new layer to Soft Light.
a new layer at the top of the stack and give it a mid-grey fill. Go to
Filter > Noise > Add Noise and fill the layer with grain. Change
this layer to Soft Light to capture that retro print effect.
CMD+A to select all, then right click and Transform Selection. Minus
100px from the width and height then inverse the selection to leave a
border selection. Fill this with white and change the blending mode to
leaves our cool space scene poster complete. The textures recreate the
planet and nebulae effects perfectly while the lighting effects and lens
flares bring the scene to life with a futuristic sci-fi theme. Add some
grain and subdue the colours and it sends the design back a couple of
decades to capture that aged retro poster appearance.