Tutorial Tuesday – Bob Dylan Poster Tutorial

by . May 27th, 2014

Hey Creatives, this Tuesday – YouTheDesigner brings you a Bob Dylan Poster Tutorial. Here’s a walk through of the creative process behind the poster below! Hopefully, this will be straight forward to follow and you’ll be able to learn and create something with this!

Here’s the final piece below:



I’m not good at designing blindly. Honestly. I put a lot of stock on visual research and I feel like before you start you have to plan before you let loose on Photoshop and Illustrator. I’m one of those designers that prefer client work over personal pieces because a creative brief helps me go further with the design. I read some really good design advice about creating a moodboard before you create your piece so you’ll have a visual guide as you work. This was a technique I discovered in a tutorial by Sachin Teng for Digital Arts Magazine.

So before I started – I wanted a visual style to follow. I wanted something that was clean and modern – but also had a lot of contrast and felt very appropriate for the subject – which in this case was: ‘Bob Dylan’.

So I tried to make a visual study of colors and styles I really liked for the piece. I decided to use a lot of easy shapes, under saturated colours, grids and other remnants of 60s designs. I used a lot of classic influences such as Milton Glaser and Saul Bass for the structure. For the typefaces, I took inspiration from one of Bob Dylan’s cover albums and noticed he used a sort of fat sans serif – which is why I chose Gill Sans as the predominant font in the piece.

Here’s my mood board:






First I created my Canvas. The poster was done on an A3 Document in Illustrator. I started with a pale yellow/brown color – leaving a bit of a margin on the sides so that I could add a border later on.

To create the color palette – I used this really cool technique from this tutorial from the folks over at Tutsplus. You basically use the blend tool to establish a color palette. First I made an off-black square – and then adjacent to it, I made another square with the pale yellow/brown. Below it, I made a vibrant orange square and next to it – a mustard yellow. I selected the top squares. I selected both of them and went to OBJECT > BLEND OPTIONS. I used ‘Specified Steps’ and set that to 4. Afterwards, I went to OBJECT > BLEND > MAKE – and applied it to the top. I did the same thing for the bottom.

You should have something similar to the shapes below:



Now select the squares, using the Direct Selection Tool (A) and go to OBJECT > BLEND > EXPAND. Do this for both rows, select all of them and on the Swatches Panel – create a New Color Group. The colours should now have pre-loaded into the swatches panel for easy access. Doing this technique gives you more options on hand and gives you a more even saturation and hue variants.



Iconography is a really important part of the graphic design process. I first drafted out some sketches of objects that I associated with Bob Dylan. I chose a guitar, a harmonica, shades and a cigarette. I then broke them to the simplest shapes I could manage. The key to this technique is simplifying until it is recognizable.

For example, the guitar was constructed by using two circles on top of each other, and two positioned rectangles. These were combined together using the Pathfinder Tool’s Unite until I created a shape that I was happy with. I used very basic shapes and supported that with the pen tool. I edited the fills using the swatches panel and this was the result:




The portrait was created using this Photo of Bob Dylan and the Live Trace tool. I had the privledge of using an image that was black and white, with clear contrast and the top of the head visible so that made things a lot easier. Also the image itself was relatively clean. I recommend either using similar images – or masking the background in Photoshop before applying your photo. I used the settings above to achieve the look, but since Not All Photos Are Created Equal – you may be using different ones for yours. Do which ever works best. You want to keep the edges as simple as possible.

If you’re having difficulty and/or The Photo and Live Trace just aren’t agreeing. It might be simpler to just use the pen tool to draw out the face.

After, I applied the Live Trace. I went to Live Trace > Expand so I had further control of the paths. To access the paths, I selected the portrait – right clicked and went to “UNGROUP”. I removed the big chunks of white, by simply deleting it. I then selected everything and applied a gradient to what was black.


I then constructed the image using simple techniques. Using Smart Guides and the Rectangle Tool – I made some boxes. In a new layer, added text and formatted it to fix the boxes. I positioned the portrait in one box and the items in another. I also put an off black rectangle at the bottom for contrast.





Some subtle textures – I felt would add some character to an otherwise really bland piece (although your mileage may vary – I’m very fond of noise textures!). So after, I created this. I put it in Photoshop and added some grain. I duplicated the layer, went to FILTER > NOISE > ADD NOISE – applied it to the piece and set it to screen. I then added a Film Grain Texture (Texture by JakezDaniel at DeviantArt)  on top of that one – and set it to pin light.


And here’s the final piece again.



If you want more tutorials – you can also check out our last tutorial where we taught you how to do Ribbon Typography for Your Text Please feel free to show us your work! Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.You can also hit us up on our FacebookTwitter and Google+ profiles. Lastly, our RSS Feeds is open for subscription so that you can stay creative!