The retro aesthetic of the 1950s and 1960s is currently back in vogue and it’s set to be a great trend for 2010. It’s not hard to see why retro design is so enduringly popular: the bold, blocky colours, simple imagery and vivid typography make this a striking era of design.
In this tutorial, Gordon Reid – who works under the creative handle Middle Boop – shows how he blended retro imagery and colour schemes with digital technology to create this month’s stunning cover image.
He walks you step-by-step through the process of preparing stock images for compositing, lighting, colouring and texturing the design – as well as providing a few sneaky keyboard shortcuts to speed things up.
The stock images that Reid has used are all available from iStock. You can buy them from bit.ly/4V2JvR, bit.ly/7rdMRZ, and bit.ly/4P2kj9 – or if you prefer, you can substitute similar images of your own.
To start off, download the images mentioned in the introduction, or find suitable ones of your own. Then cut out the images – there are many ways of doing this but the cleanest and most efficient by far is the Pen tool (P). Once they’re cut out, add a more aged effect by holding down Shift + Cmd/Ctrl + U and desaturating the images.
Now let’s merge the two images of the women together giving the impression that one is presenting the computer. Hit Cmd/Ctrl + L to match the levels of the images, go to Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast, adjust these, and add a warming photo filter with a density of around 15% (Image > Adjustments > Photo Filter).
Let’s take the aged effect further by adding a slight texture to the three images. In the computer layer, go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise, set the amount to anywhere between 6 and 8 for the computer and set the distribution to Gaussian. Do the same process for both of the other layers but use the filter a lot more lightly.
Now that we have the focal point to work from, it’s time to work out some vibrant colours to make the design really eye-catching. I want to use colours that emphasise the old-school feel but can also be combined to look contemporary. Put a cream coloured layer such as #fdf9d1 over the top of the image and set the blending mode to Multiply, then play about with colour swatches to find some great colour combinations.