How To Create a Vintage Postcard Design (Illustrator & Photoshop Tutorial)

Hello everyone this is Chris from Spoon Graphics back with another video tutorial Today I'm going to take you through the design process for creating a vintage postcard design, based on the postcard design style known as "large letter", which was popular throughout mid-20th century

Often accompanied by the words “Greetings from…”, these postcards presented the name of a place with faux 3D type effects and featured a variety of pictures of that locale clipped within the text face of each letter The style has become iconic and is referenced by designers who want to create artwork with a nostalgic or retro theme In today’s tutorial I show how to create a vintage style large letter postcard design, using the tools available in Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop to replicate the visual traits of those original souvenirs But first, if you want to get your hands of thousands of assets to use in your designs, check out Envato Elements To familiarise yourself with this iconic design style, Google the words “Greetings from postcards” to see hundreds of examples from across America

You’ll notice the large lettering effect is common throughout, often warped in various angles and accompanied with bold colours One of the key characteristics is the series of photos from the region clipped within each letter We'll use the powers of both Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop to produce the effect Illustrator for its useful tools for editing vector text shapes, then Photoshop for working with raster images and textures So to begin, open up Illustrator and create a new document

It doesn't really matter what the size is, but I'm using units of pixels Select the Type tool and set out your place name Choose a strong and bold font I’m using Futura Condensed Extra Bold with the tracking reduced to -50 Convert the live text into shapes by going to Type > Create Outlines

Head to Object > Path > Offset Path and enter 2px In the Joins setting, choose Round Click a light grey colour swatch to have it applied to this outline Due to the way the letters are laid out, the outline overlaps some of the black letters Right click and choose Arrange > Send To Back

Head straight back to Object > Path > Offset Path and add another outline This time give it a blue fill and send it to the back again Make a selection across all the text and go to Effect > 3D > Extrude and Bevel Configure the settings to 1 degree in the X and Y axis, then 0 for the Z axis Set the Extrude Depth to 1000pt, then change the Surface to No Shading

To permanently apply the effect and convert the text back into shapes, go to Object > Expand Appearance Many of the real large letter postcard designs used multiple colours in the 3D text effect Choose the Direct Selection tool and hold the Shift key while clicking on every bottom face of each letter Give these shapes a new orangey-red fill In order to create an extra outline around the text, we first need to make a duplicate

Go to Edit > Copy, followed by Edit > Paste in Front Click the Unite button in the Pathfinder panel to merge all the individual shapes into one big silhouette, then right click and choose Arrange > Send to Back Swap the blue fill to a stroke in the toolbar, then in the Stroke panel, configure it to 2pt and aligned to the outside Finish off the type design with a couple more text elements to add the words "Greetings from" I'm using a nice brush script named Signpainter

Select all the objects that make up your design, then go to Object > Envelope Distort > Make With Warp Choose Rise from the options and set the Bend to 30% That's the main work done in Illustrator, so now let's set up a document in Photoshop to begin working on the textures and vintage postcard effect Download my collection of free Vintage Postcard Textures from Spoon Graphics and open one into Photoshop I went with number 15 from the blank postcards set

These textures were originally saved in CMYK format, so quickly convert them to RGB, otherwise some of the tools we need to use won't be accessible Next, find a bunch of landscape photos to use within the composition You can find loads of high resolution, free photos at sites such as Unsplashcom or Pexels I'll link to the ones I used in the video description area

Open up the main background photo you want to apply to the postcard, then Select All and Copy In the postcard texture document, paste the image and scale it to size with the CMD (or CTRL on Windows) and T shortcut Double click the Background layer to turn it into a regular layer, then drag it above the photo layer Change the blending mode to Multiply to allow the underlying photo to show through the texture, then reduce the opacity of the photo layer to around 70% to tone it down so it isn't so vibrant The photo currently extends beyond the edge of the postcard, so add a layer mask to the photo layer, then Select All with CMD+A With the marquee tool active, right click and choose Transform Selection

Hold the ALT key while scaling down the selection to leave a border around the edge of the postcard Go to Select > Inverse, then fill this area with black to erase this area in the mask To eliminate the straight edge of the mask, go to Filter > Distort > Ripple Configure the settings to Large at around 20% to add some rough edges to the border Switch back to Illustrator and make a copy of the artwork, then paste it as Pixels within the Photoshop document

Scale it to size to fit on the postcard The colours from Illustrator look a little too vibrant to suit this vintage postcard effect, so go to Image > Adjustments > Match Colour Select the current document as the Source, then choose Merged as the layer option Adjust the sliders to better balance the colours, taking the Luminance down to around 10, then bringing back the contrast with around a 40% Fade In order to make clippings of each letter, we need to create separate layers Use the Magic Wand tool to make a selection of the first letter face

Add a new layer, then use the ALT+Backspace shortcut to fill the selection with black Press CMD+D to Deselect Activate the artwork layer again in order to make a selection of the next letter with the Magic Wand, then add a new layer and fill this new selection Repeat the process for each letter until you have individual layers for every letter of the word Open up one of the other landscape images and copy and paste it into the document, placed above the first individual letter layer in the layer stack

Hold the ALT key and click between the two layers to make a clipping mask, so the photo will only show in the area of the letter face Press CMD+T to Transform, then scale and position the image so a suitable portion of the landscape fills the area Open up the next landscape image and repeat the process Copy and paste into the document above the next letter layer ALT+Click between the layers to make a clipping mask, then scale and position to fit

As landscape images are placed within all the letter faces, the vintage postcard effect begins to take shape The final artwork is a great tribute to those classic postcard designs Illustrator’s 3D tool helped to produce a similar text treatment that was used in the original designs, whilst the image and texture adjustments in Photoshop gives the artwork an aged and distressed appearance to achieve the nostalgic vintage look If you enjoyed this video or learnt any new tricks, be sure to give it a like to help spread the word Subscribe to the channel to stick around for more, and if you want to get your hands on more free resources like those postcard textures, join my mailing list over at Spoon

Graphics As always thank you very much for watching, and I'll see you in the next one

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