Retro styles are all the rage with creative Photoshop users, inspired by a host of print and online resources that are saturated with classic fonts, vintage colour themes and periodical visual effects. Many will remark that this appeal is a backlash against synthetic styles created through modern digital media – an opinion supported by a host of illustrative and mixed-media artworks.
However, there are some seriously popular trends that prove otherwise, with the replication of old-school looks being at the forefront of these styles. This effect can be seen in web design, logo design and even in big-budget cinematic examples such as TRON: Legacy.
This style centres on a visual effect that resembles Eighties video monitor displays and dated VHS recording quality. Authentic replication of the effect undoubtedly hinges on the application of Photoshop’s powerful tool sets. Selecting the right font is the first step, with blocky types looking best. Then it’s a quick run through with blending modes, interacting with coloured type layers. Filters also feature heavily in re-creating effects, especially Gaussian Blur, Noise and Horizontal Grain Type settings under Texture.
01 Create coloured type
Start by selecting a bold font – we’ve chosen Photoshop’s native Haettenschweiler – then duplicate your type layer three times. Set each subsequent duplicate to red (R: 255, G: 0, B: 0), green (R: 0, G: 255, B:0) and blue (R: 0, G: 0, B: 255). Now rasterise each layer.
Set all layer blending modes to Exclusion, moving them from behind your original type layer slightly. Raise your original type layer to the top of the stack, applying an Overlay blending mode. Apply 1px Radius Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur to all duplicate layers. Transform>Skew your type right.
Merge all into a new layer, selecting the bottom half of this new layer with the Rectangle Marquee tool. Duplicate your selection into a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl+J), shift it to the left slightly, apply a 1px Stroke, with Position set to Inner, Blend Mode to Dissolve and Opacity to 20%.