Grindhouse Poster

Ever wanted to create your own grindhouse style poster? Maybe you’re remixing the poster for an existing film. Maybe you’re creating the poster for your own schlocky grindhouse film. Here’s the low down on how you can achieve this style using Adobe Photoshop.If you’re looking for some inspiration, check out some original grindhouse posters on the internet. If you’re remixing a  movie poster and giving it the grindhouse treatment, consider having a look at this Something Awful Photoshop Phriday competition in which people were asked to give otherwise respectful films the look of low budge exploitation flicks.


Start a new photoshop document by selecting File > New…. The shortcut for creating a new document is Command + N (Mac) or Control + N (PC).

Select a paper size from the format menu that will allow you to print it out easily later on. I’m going to use International Paper > A4. If you’re in the US, you might choose U.S. Paper > Letter. Make sure the resolution is set to 300 pixels per square inch and the colour mode is set to 8 bit.


There are a number of ways you can create a solid background colour in Adobe Photoshop.

1. Create a new layer by choosing Layer > New > Layer…

– Select a foreground colour and fill the canvas using the paint bucket tool.

– Choose Edit > Fill…

– Go to Select > All, then hold down Option/Alt + Delete to fill the area with the foreground colour.

2. Create a Fill Layer. Choose Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid… Give your layer an appropriate name and choose a colour.

If you do need a background, call this layer ‘Poster Background’. When you’re working in Photoshop, even on seemingly simple projects, it’s a good idea to keep your layers, layer groups and smart objects named. It can be a bit chaotic if you don’t.


When I was creating my grindhouse poster, I used a number of basic geometric shapes throughout the design. The easiest way to create these sort of objects in your document is using the assorted vector tools in Photoshop. Creating a rectangle is as simple as choosing the Rectangle Tool (U). Once you’ve drawn a vector object on the canvas, you can adjust the colour of this object by double-clicking on the colour swatch in the layers palette. To add effects to the object, such as a stroke or drop shadow, click on the layer you want to add the effect to, then press the layer styles button and select it from the drop down menu.


Adding text in Photoshop is simple. Select the Text Tool (T) and drag a text box onto the canvas. You can change the font, font size and colour in the options bar at the top of the screen. It’s also useful to have the character palette open on the screen. You can toggle the character palette by going toWindow > Character. This is useful because it allows you to change the font, font size and spacing between the lines.


If you convert an image into a smart object, any filters you add are non-destructive. This makes it a lot easier to modify the filters later on.

To convert an image in your document to a smart object, right-click on the appropriate layer and select ‘Convert to Smart Object’.

If you want to make a photograph look like it’s been painted by hand, I recommend using Artistic > Palette Knife.

To make your photographs appear slightly blown out and grainy, use Artistic > Film Grain.


royalty free paper texture can be used to age and weather your grindhouse poster.

Choose File > Open. Select the paper texture after saving it to your hard drive.

Select > All.

Edit > Copy.

Close the document and paste the image that you have copied into your poster by choosing Edit > Paste.

Change the Blending Mode of this layer to ‘Overlay’. You may need to experiment with the Blending Mode of the layer until you find the one that works best for your texture and photograph. If the effect is too strong, try adjusting the opacity.


When you’ve finished the layout of your poster, it’s time to start making it look like an authentic grindhouse poster. Select all of your layers by holding down the shift key and clicking on them. Right-clicking on the layers brings up a contextual menu. Choose ‘Convert to Smart Object’.

To add a layer mask, choose Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All.

There are a number of default brushes in Photoshop that can be used to create realistic looking rips and tears along the edge of your poster.

Select the Brush Tool (B). In the Options bar, click on the brush icon to select another brush. Open the drop down menu to choose from a selection of brush sets as shown below. Choose Faux Finish Brushes. You will be presented with a dialogue box asking whether you want to replace the current brush set or simply append the Faux Finish Brushes to the current list. Choose ‘Append’ so you still have access to the basic Photoshop brushes. You might need to choose ‘Small List’ from the drop down menu so you can see the names of the brushes.


I recommend tweaking the brush settings before you go about tearing and weathering your work. To achieve a more random effects, and largely because I’m lazy, I like to adjust the shape dynamics. If not, I find that the effect becomes too calculated and people will notice the same shape recurring again and again. To adjust the brush, select Window > Brushes. You will be presented with a number of options.


Looking at the above diagram, you’ll notice that I’ve increased the Size Jitter and Angle Jitter to their maximum settings.

Start painting around the edges of your poster.



Select the Gradient Tool (G). Choose a standard black to white gradient. In the Options bar, set the Mode to Difference.

Create a new layer by choosing Layer > New > Layer… or by clicking the Create a New Layer icon in the Layers Palette.

Select the Gradient Tool (G). Start drawing random gradients on the new blank layer. You should end up with something like this:


Choose Filter > Sylize > Emboss.


You will end up with something like this…



Below are some terrific mash ups made by students.