Photoshop Tutorial: How to Make a Text Portrait Poster

Today I am going to be teaching you how to make a Text Portrait Poster in just a few simple steps. To do this, you will only need two things: Photoshop and the picture you would like to work with. I will be using Photoshop CC 2018, but any version of Photoshop will do. The final product will look something like this:

Step 1: Open your photo in Photoshop

When choosing the photo you want to work with, there are a few things you need to consider. This method works best with black and white headshots. It is best to use a large photo so it isn’t pixelated when you print. If the photo you choose is not black and white, you can desaturate it by pressing “Command+Shift+U”.

Step 2: With the Quick Selection Tool  select the background so everything except for the subject is outlined. Then, press  “Command+Shift+I” to invert the selection so that the subject is outlined.


Step 3: With the subject outlined, click “Select and Mask” near the top of the screen. If this button is not visible, click “Refine Edge” (which does the same thing). On the window that opens up, make sure “Smart Radius” is checked and drag the radius up a few px. Next, make sure the output is set to “New Layer with Layer Mask”. Click OK. Now your photo should have a transparent background. Don’t worry if the hair isn’t perfectly outlined, as we can fix that later.    

Step 4: Create a new document by pressing “Command+N”. Make this new document any size you would like your poster. If you plan to print the final product, make sure the resolution is 300 pixels/inch. Also, make the background color black. Now that you have your second artboard set up, we can move onto the next step.

Step 5: Go back to your photo document. With the Move Tool  , drag the photo up to the new document, without releasing your mouse, hold down “Shift”, and drag it down on the new document. Holding “Shift” makes sure your photo is put in the center of the artboard. Your new document should look something like this:

Step 6: Resize your picture by pressing “Command+T”. Hold down “shift” when resizing so the photo doesn’t get distorted. Resize your picture so the face fits the whole artboard. Once you are done resizing, hit “enter” or “return”.

Step 7: Next, we need to adjust the brightness and contrast of the face. Open the Levels window by pressing “Command+L”. Adjust the levels until the shadows are black and the highlights stick out. When you are done adjusting the levels, click OK.

Step 8: Next, we need to blend the hair into the background. Click the layer mask to make it active. Select the Brush Tool  and at the top of the screen make sure your brush has the following: Hardness=0%, Opacity=100%, Flow=100%. You can adjust your brush size to your liking with the bracket keys “[” or “]”. Run your brush tool on the edges where you want to blend the hair with the background. Doing so reveals the black background through the layer mask.

Step 9: Now we are going to put the text on the brighter side of the face, which for me is the left side. Select the Rectangular Marquee Tool  and from the top left of the photo, click and drag a box over the half of the photo where you want the text. Create a New Layer  on the bottom right of your screen. Assuming your background is black, press “Alt+Delete”. Then deselect the rectangle by pressing “Command+D”. Your poster should now look like this:

We’re almost done! Hang in there!

Step 10: Now we’re ready to add the text! Select the Horizontal Type Tool  and near the top of your screen, select the font you would like to use. I chose the font “American Captain” because bold san serif fonts work best. If your text will be on the left side, make sure it is right aligned  and vice-versa. Click the color box in the top menu and select white. You can play with how big you want your text, it will most likely be between 50-100 pt. Now click near the top middle of your poster to start putting your text in, 1 or 2 words per line. Your poster should now look something like this:

Step 11: “Command+Click” on the T in your layers menu to highlight the text. Now, click on the eyeball next to the T to hide the text. You should see the text still outlined. Now select the layer below with the black selection and press “delete” on your keyboard. This will delete the color inside of the letters. Now deselect it by pressing “Command+D”.


Step 12: If there is any text that is hard to read, we need to make it more legible. First, make the face active by clicking on the face layer. Now select the Dodge Tool  and at the top menu, make sure the Hardness=0%, Exposure=100%, and Protect Tones is checked. Select “Shadows” from the Range drop-down. Now click and hold over the parts of text that are hard to read. Now select “Midtones” from the Range drop-down and repeat.

Step 13: Now open your Brush Tool  and set its opacity to 10%. Brush over those same words to increase legibility. Repeat steps 12 and 13 until all words are to your liking.


Step 14: To finish, we are going to create a border on the outside of the poster. Make Layer 1 active and create a New Layer  to make a new layer above it. With the new layer selected, press “Alt+Delete” and make the foreground color white. Reduce the Fill of this new layer to 0%. Now, double-click on the layer to open the Layer Style Window. Click “Inner Glow” and set these parameters: Blend Mode=Normal, Opacity=40%, Choke=100%, Size=70px. Now click “Stroke” and set the size to 2-4 px less than what you set for Inner Glow. Next set Position=Inside, Blend Mode=Lighten. Now click OK. You should now have a border around the outside!

Congratulations, you finished your poster!