Graphic Design / Interactive Design / Fine & Applied Arts / Parkland College

Graphic Design Exercises
Integrated: Poster


To be introduced to Photoshop's selection tools, masking options, and adjustment layers. To use Indesign as a layout tool. To recreate the above poster design.


Adobe Photoshop contains powerful photo manipulation tools. When used skillfully, the designer can create dynamic images which would be impossible with a camera alone. Indesign can be used to add type and prepare the design for print. Posters continue to be a popular print medium for commercial and educational purposes.


preparing the file

  1. download starter file, open susan_helms.png in Photoshop
  2. image > image size; note image size and resolution
  3. practice Adobe navigation keyboard shortcuts: space = hand; space + cmd = zoom in; space + cmd + opt = zoom out; cmd + zero = fit in window
  4. rename layer "susan"
  5. save as "susan_helms.psd

adding the background layer

  1. open space.jpg
  2. copy and paste into susan_helms.psd (cmd + A, cmd + C, cmd + V)
  3. rename layer "space"
  4. re-stack layer under "helms" layer
  5. layer adjustment > hue/saturation: lightness -25, saturation +29

adding blue background

  1. new layer: rename "blue"
  2. sample blue from table with eyedropper tool (I)
  3. fill "blue" layer with foreground color (opt+delete)
  4. re-stack "blue" layer to top
  5. decrease layer fill: 40%
  6. create layer mask on "blue" layer (mask button at bottom of layers panel)
  7. gradient tool: black, white
  8. draw gradient (draw a line half way down the table starting at the bottom of susan's hand)
  9. return fill to 100%

adding international space station

  1. open iss.jpg in photoshop
  2. copy and paste image into "susan_helms.psd"
  3. rename layer "iss"
  4. re-stack layer to top
  5. magic wand tool: tolerance 22
  6. select black background on "iss" layer
  7. select > modify > expand 2px
  8. select > inverse (cmd+shift+I)
  9. add layer mask (mask button at bottom of layers panel)
  10. reposition, re-size (cmd T)
  11. blur > gaussian blur > 3px (make sure image thumbnail is selected and not the mask thumbnail in layers panel)
  12. clean up mask if needed
  13. adjustment layer > levels
  14. attach levels adjustment to "iss" layer (hover between "iss" and level adjustment layer, click when a square and arrow become visible)
  15. output levels: 0,185
  16. save

finishing layout in Adobe Indesign

  1. open "nasa.indd"
  2. rectangle frame tool, double click on art board: W 24.5in, H 36.5in
  3. reposition (note bleed)
  4. place "susan_helms.psd" (cmd D)
  5. resize image
  6. new layer: "type", stack above "art"
  7. draw guilds for margins
  8. place type: "nasa_text" (cmd D)
  9. series title: adobe caslon pro semibold, 42pt, track open (opt+right arrow)
  10. "Susan Helms:" Helvetica Neue LT Std, 87 Heavy Condensed Oblique
  11. subtitle: 47 Light Condensed
  12. view > overprint preview
  13. save
  14. file > export "nasa.pdf" ("smallest file size" for web publishing)


  1. print your exercise on 11x17 paper
  2. file your exercise in your Process Book for individual review
  3. publish "nasa.pdf" as a link from your Process Page

Last updated: 11/13/17 ■ Webmaster: Paul Young