Graphic Design: Make a Vintage Postcard

Intermediate level Adobe Illustrator Adobe Illustrator Adobe Photoshop Adobe Photoshop


In this tutorial you'll learn how to make a vintage style postcard by using lettering and ageing a photo by using Illustrator and Photoshop.

Creating the lettering in Illustrator

Step 1

Set up a new document in Illustrator. For creating a standard postcard: A6 format 148x105 mm.


Step 2

Choose a thick bold font with a retro look, the bolder the better. The more condensed the letters are, the better the outcome. In this case I’ve chosen Popular Std Black. On this retro postcard we’re going to write "Wyoming", use the Type Tool or shortcut T, 100 pt.


Step 3

It’s time to warp the letters, select the text and go to Effect > Warp > Rise. Click on preview and change the bend to 25% and click on ok. Select the object and expand it by clicking on Object > Expand Appearance, the text is outlined which makes it easier for us to work with.


Step 4

To give it a drop shadow we’re going to use the 3D Tool. I prefer to change the colors of the object so that the effect is easier to see. Select the object and click on Effect > 3D > Extrude and Bevel, click on Preview and change the settings to 10 x- and y- axis, 50 pt extrude depth, no shading and click on ok. Select the object click on Object > Expand Appearance.


Step 5

Select the outer edge of the letters with the Direct Selection tool (shortcut A) and change the fill color to white and the stroke to black, make sure that the stroke has rounded edges for a smoother line.


Step 6

As you click on the 3D type with the Direct Selection Tool (shortcut A), you'll notice that the shadow lettering comes out of different parts. To fix this, select all the components with the direct selection tool and click on Pathfinder > Unite. Repeat for each letter but don’t merge the shadows of the letters together.


Step 7

As you can see, some of the shapes that are merged stand out in the front, to fix this problem select the shape with the Direct Selection Tool and send the shape to the back until the shape is in place. You can do this by right click > Arrange > Send Backward or shortcut Command + [. Select the shading and change it to black.


Step 8

The first step to giving a different fill to the letters is separating the letters from the shadow. Use the Direction Selection Tool (shortcut A) and select all the letters, press shortcut V for the Selection Tool or select the tool in the sidebar, press Command + X to cut. And past with Command + V somewhere on the art board where there’s more space.


Step 9

Choose a picture you would like to use for the lettering. Place it behind the letters, send it to the back with Right click > Arrange > Send to Back. Scale the picture to your taste and make a copy of the picture and place it to the side (to use the same measurements of the picture in each letter). Select the first letter and picture > Right click > Make Clipping Mask. Repeat this step with each letter.


Step 10

If you’re not pleased with the positioning of the picture within the letters you can always adjust it by using the Direct Selection Tool (shortcut A), click on the letter you would like to adjust and drag/scale the picture to your liking. To add a white stroke, click on the letter, change the weight to 2,5 in the Stroke panel and change the color to white. Repeat with all the letters and place them back into the shading.


Adding the background picture in Photoshop

Step 1

Open Photoshop and make a new file 148x105 mm. Place your background picture, in this case I’ve chosen Grand Teton in Wisconsin. To make a stroke, add a new layer, select all by shortcut Command + A > Edit > Stroke > 15 px > OK, make sure the color is set to white.


Step 2

Copy the text from Illustrator and place it into the Photoshop file. Scale it a bit so that the letters cover the largest part of the card.


Step 3

Add the text “Welcome to” above Wyoming and “Grand-Teton” below, using Brush Script Mt, 40 pt, white. To warp the text, select the text and click on the icon (letter T above an arch) in the upper panel, click on Rise>bend 10%>ok. Repeat this step with the text below.


Vintage texture and adjustments

Step 1

To give it a bit of a vintage feel, we’re going to add an old-textured layer on top. On the website you can find some free textures, this one is called 03-01. Place the texture on top and stretch it until it covers the whole picture, in the right panel click on Multiply and change the x to 70%.


Step 2

To brighten up the picture a bit we’re going to add an adjustment layer, if the you haven’t got the panel on the right side you can click on Window > Adjustments or on Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Brightness/Contrast, change the brightness to 30 and the contrast to -25 for a lightly ‘faded’ effect. Make sure you place the adjustment layer above the Wyoming text and picture so that the filter only applies to those two layers.


Step 3

To make it more authentic, change the Saturation in order to make the colors “pop” a bit more. Make a new adjustment layer but this time choose Hue/Saturation, change the Saturation to +30 and you’ll notice that the colors are more intense, which gives it an old-school vibe.


Final result


What do you think of this tutorial?


Edited 1 year ago

Hey Kimberly, this tutorial is exactly what I was looking for! Unfortunately, the farthest I've gotten is step 3. When I follow step 4 and apply the Extrude & Bevel my object is all one color. I appreciate any help!

1 year ago

me too!! How do you get the gray shadow. It's all one color for me.

1 year ago

Change the color  to pink  before using extrude and bevel ;)

Hey! So the problem is that Illustrator is still recognizing each letter as an independent unit; so it's only going to let you change the color on each complete letter, and not on each of its sides. To change this, so you can change the color on the face of the letter, you're going to have to seperate its parts. There's a few ways to do this. For me, the easiest way is to expand the 3D result. You can do this going to Object > Expand appearance. Once, you've done this, you'll see that each of the faces are seperated and that you can edit the colors independently.

I hope this helps! :)

Edited 1 year ago


Have you been on a trip lately and taken tons of photos? Don’t know what to do with them? Well, take a look at this awesome tutorial, where we'll learn how take those pictures and create an original composition with them. So grab your best holiday snaps and let’s get started!

Tut Details

Intermediate level 30m 8,962 views