How to Add Retro Matchbook Print Effects in Photoshop (+ FREE PS Action!)

Hello everyone this is Chris from Spoon Graphics back with another video tutorial for Adobe Photoshop Today I'm going to show you a series of filters and adjustments you can apply to your artwork to give it an old, aged print effect

The aesthetics of low-cost printing methods in the mid-20th Century is associated with retro comics, magazines and matchbook prints Ink bleed, misregistration and visible halftone dot patterns are all side-effects of cheap offset printing on cheap paper stock, but those visual traits that were once defects from the printing process are now desired effects to give modern artwork the appearance of a retro print Follow these steps in Adobe Photoshop to turn your crisp digital designs into nostalgic retro prints We'll add filters that replicate the appearance of high ink absorption with irregular edges and bleeding corners; Convert all colours into halftone screens; Separate and offset the black areas as if the printing plate is misaligned; Then we'll finish off the effect with worn ink and paper textures to add the fine details of pulp grain and distressed areas where the print has worn away Since this tutorial is all about applying effects to a completed design, I've put together some artwork using a sugar skull from one of my old video tutorials, along with some accompanying text and colourful background colours to make the kind of weird and wonderful designs you see on those retro matchbook prints

Flatten your artwork to begin, then make a duplicate of the background layer by dragging it onto the New Layer icon, or press the CMD+J shortcut, or CTRL+J on Windows Fill the original background with white, then select the artwork layer and convert it to a smart object via the right click menu This will ensure all filters and effects are applied non-destructively so they can be turned off or edited The first effect to apply is under Filter > Noise > Median This will round off the corners of the artwork, which helps to mimic how the ink bleeds into the paper

If you go too high with the radius setting things start to become blurred, so find a value that rounds off the corners without distorting the overall artwork I'm using 4px Another filter to eliminate the crips digital lines is Ripple under the Distort menu Find a value that adds subtle irregularities to the outlines, without being too prominent 25% works for my artwork

Real prints are made using halftone screens On old, cheap offset prints the halftone dot patterns are visible Easily add the effect in Photoshop using the Filter > Pixelate > Color Halftone filter Reduce the max radius to the lowest value of 4, then set all the screen angles to 45 degrees You could leave these default values for a more realistic halftone pattern, but the effect is more defined at 45 degrees

Double click the slider icon next to the Color Halftone effect in the layers panel to edit its blending mode Change it to Soft Light to allow the dots to interact with the underlying colours If you move the Color Halftone effect underneath the Ripple effect by dragging it in the layers panel, the Ripple effect will actually be applied to the dots too, which helps give them a distressed appearance Click the little eyeball icon next to the Color Halftone effect to turn it off for a moment, while we make a selection of the black elements of the artwork to produce the misregistration effect My first thought was to use the Select > Color Range command to make a selection of all the black elements, but it's difficult to accurately find the right settings to capture every detail

An alternative method I found was to convert the image to CMYK, so the black parts of the artwork are separated under the K channel for key, or black in other words Go to Image > Mode > CMYK, but click no to Flatten or Rasterize the artwork In the Channels panel, make a duplicate of the Black channel One problem we have is that CMYK black is not pure Photoshop black, so go to Image > Adjustments > Levels and increase the Shadows to darken the blacks to a pure 000 hex or RGB value Hold the CMD key, or CTRL key on Windows and click the thumbnail of the new Black Channel to loads its selection

Switch over to the Layers panel and add a layer mask to the artwork layer while the selection is active, to mask out all the black areas The next problem we have is we're left with a fine 1px outline where the selection was made Use the Step Backward or Undo command to erase the layer mask so the selection is active again Go to Select > Modify, then choose Contract, since this is a negative selection Enter 1px, then apply the Layer Mask again

Change the artwork back to RGB under the Image > Mode menu, choosing not to Flatten or Rasterize again Bring back the visibility of the Color Halftone effect Switch over to the Channels panel and make another selection of the Black copy channel by clicking the thumbnail while holding the CMD key Add a new layer, then inverse the selection under Select > Inverse, before filling the area with the black foreground colour using the shortcut ALT+Backspace to restore the black artwork, but on a separate layer Press CMD+D to Deselect

This black artwork layer can now be nudged out of place using the keyboard cursor keys to simulate a misregistered print plate effect Next we'll need some texture assets to distress the artwork further Download my Free pack of Subtle Grunge Concrete Textures from Spoon Graphics Open up any of the textures into Photoshop Use the shortcuts CMD+A to Select All, CMD+C to Copy, CMD+W to close the image, then CMD+V to Paste it into the main document, followed by CMD+T to Transform

Scale and position the texture so it fills the canvas Go to Image > Adjustments > Invert to flip the texture so the fine details are white against a dark background In order to make the dark background invisible it needs to be pure black, so use the Levels to darken the texture Change the blending mode of this layer to Screen to make the black areas transparent, leaving just the array of white speckles A quick Sharpen filter can help enhance them

Add a Levels Adjustment Layer and adjust the Output Levels to lighten the darkest areas, making them a dark grey rather than pure black Make a copy of the layer with the black areas of the artwork and drag it to the top of the layer stack Reduce its Fill value to zero, so its contents can't be seen, then double click the layer to bring up the Layer Styles options Add an Inner Glow and reset to the default values To make it easier to find suitable settings, temporarily change the glow to a bright colour

You can then alter the Choke and Size sliders to generate a soft outline around the artwork, that doesn't completely fill in too many areas I'm using 50% choke and 10px size Set the glow colour back to black to see a subtle outline effect that simulates the plate pressure, where the ink is slightly darker with better coverage towards the edges Finally, open up an old paper texture to simulate the aged paper stock the print is applied to Even when they were brand new, many old prints were applied to cheap, heavy grain paper, but as they have survived over the years they become yellow and stained

This pack of Grungy Paper and Card textures can also be downloaded for free from Spoon Graphics Copy and paste a texture into the artwork file Scale it down to fit Texture 4 has some lines in the texture which I've cropped out Set the blending mode to allow the stained paper texture interact with the underlying artwork

Open up the Levels to adjust the contrast of the texture Bringing in the highlights brightens the texture, while darkening the shadows makes the texture detail more prominent If the yellow colouring is too intense, reduce the Saturation using the Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation tool -50% takes away the vibrancy while retaining a subtle yellow colour cast To fine tune the effect, alter the opacity of the layer to tone down the texturing

Adding a quick Sharpen filter also helps to bring out the texture of the paper grain too The final result is a retro style design with all the sought after defects associated with old prints, including ink bleed, misregistration, halftone patterns, distressed textures and paper effects If you want to add all those effects with just a click of a button, this whole process is available as a Photoshop Action Follow the link in the description to download Bad Print Effects for free, and don't forget to join my mailing list while you're there to get my entire bundle of free resources As always thank you very much for watching, and I'll see you in the next one

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