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How to Design a Gig Poster in 6 Easy Steps

I recently saw James Flames old blog and on there he used to go through his process of making posters. It seems he hasn't updated that blog in 10 years. But I was inspired to go through my process of making posters, and try and simplify it as much as possible. Here is how I designed a poster for New Zealand band Pavlov's Puss. From reaching out for work, and getting contacted, to designing the poster in Photoshop.

On the 2nd of July I posted this story to my minuscule 270 followers on Instagram:

Story was only seen by 64 people!

Two days later I get a message from Matt who run's a small venue in Blenheim, New Zealand called The Plant. I had reached out and made the No Age poster for him at the beginning of the year.

No budget, quick turn around. I don't care, I'm just thrilled to be designing a gig poster!

Matt sent through and image of Ox O’Connell and a font he liked from another poster and said "I know it’s not hi res and might break up but that’s okay I think, sorta want it to have that screen printed look anyway."

Ox O’Connell of PAVLOV’S PUSS singing into a microphone in front of a girl holding a beer.
Ox O’Connell of PAVLOV’S PUSS.

Poster for MDOU MOCTAR, used as inspiration for the font choice.

So I isolated the font, and did a search on WhatTheFont, and find a similar font that I actually already have.

WhatTheFont is a great resource for finding fonts from reference images.

How to Design a Gig Poster in 6 Easy Steps:

STEP ONE: I bump up the contrast in the image and crop it. I then apply the Torn Edges filter in Photoshop, using red and white as my colours:

STEP TWO: I then decide I only want the white of this image, so I can overlay it on red later. So I go to Select > Color Range > Select: Sample Colors:

STEP THREE: I then invert this selection and copy the white of the image. I place it on a cream background. I like to use cream as a background colour as I feel white looks a little to stark and clinical for gig posters.

STEP FOUR: I then draw the red under the image using my Wacom. I also play around with the Smudge Tool, and use the Dissolve Blending Mode to make it look more grungy.

STEP FIVE: I then write out the band name and rasterize the layer. I stretch out the font a little to distort it and get it to look more similar to the reference material supplied. I feel this gives it a bit more of unique feel. I then draw over it using a custom brush using my Wacom tablet. I again play with the Smudge tool and use the Dissolve Blending Mode to remove any smoothness to the text. The white text is the typeface, and the red is the one I drew by hand over top of that.

Drawing your text, even if you are just tracing a typeface always gives your poster a more unique hand done feeling.

STEP SIX: I then repeat this method with the rest of the information for the poster. I add some underlines in separate layers and distort them. And this is the final product!


Thanks for checking out my #gigposter tutorial! :-)


Matt Limmer is a poster artist, illustrator and designer who specialises in designing gig posters and album covers for bands.

Find me at:

Instagram: @mattlimmer

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