How To Get A Vintage & Distressed Look On Designs Using Textures

So I know a few of the readers of this blog and fans of this brand are also graphic designers so I figured I’d do just a quick and brief tutorial on getting a vintage and weathered look on your designs through the use of textures. I’m using a design we released in our last Winter line VIVA LOVE which is a simple one color design but has that vintage look. It is a pretty simple process once you know how to do it. There is a link at the bottom of this tutorial to download the free CX CITY texture pack (or click here).

First off this is the finished look that we are going for.

For the sake of the tutorial I have taken off my “final” texture layer and dragged in the original texture I used. What we have is our untreated design which you can see is be a clean and solid white design on a black background. There are some great sites online to grab textures from so just google it and you’ll find tons of them. I believe I got this particular texture off

And this is what the original texture looks like. As you can see it is basically just a photograph of the ground. If this design wasn’t going to be screen printed I’m sure we could just overlay it and be good to go but since that wouldn’t translate to it being printed we have to do a few quick steps to make it print ready. You can grab this texture here

The first step is to get the texture to be black and white which we can simply do be desaturating the layer. This can be done by selecting Image > Adjustments > Desaturate. Since we need this image to be halftoned (which means it has to be grayscaled before we can do that) you can also grayscale your whole canvas. The choice is really up to you, either way will work and if you grayscale it now you won’t have to do it later on. (Just a note if I’m doing a design with colors in it I will just desaturate the texture layer and when it is time to halftone it drag it into a new canvas that is the same size as the file I am working on). The result will be this.

Now this next part just takes some trial and error to get it right but after a few tries you’ll get it. We need to mess with the levels and you usually want to try and get a predominantly white background with some dark black cracks and some areas that are grey. This will give some good variety to the texture and will have a good balance that won’t cover up too much of the design. Like I said this may take a few tries to get it right and the level balance will probably vary from design to design depending on what you are looking for. You can tweak the levels by going Image > Adjustment > Levels. You are most likely going to want the texture to look something like this when you are done.

Now you’ve got the texture the way you think you want it and the next step is to make that layer print ready. Right now there are all sorts of shades of gray in that layer and when you export something to film you want everything to be solid and one color (no shades). To achieve this you need to halftone this layer. Now while preferred halftoning specs will vary from printshop to printshop I’ve found that a frequency of 35 lines/inch is a pretty nice medium. Some printers are able to print at a much higher frequency than this results in more details but some shops can’t so 35 is nice safe number. To halftone your texture make sure image mode is in Grayscale and then select Image > Mode > Bitmap which will prompt the below screen. You are going to want the Output at 300 dpi (obviously) and the Method to be Halftone Screen then click Okay. On the next prompt you will want to enter a Frequency of 35 lines/inch with an Angle of 22.5 (again this number can vary on preference) and you will want the Shape to be Ellipse. Then click Okay and your image will be halftoned and able to be silk screened.

Now it should look like this (without zooming in a bit it will look very close to the unhalftoned image)

But once you zoom in you can see that the image is indeed halftoned and can make out all the tiny dots. The next step is to use the Magic Eraser Tool to delete all the white background. Make sure that Contiguous isn’t selected so everything white is deleted in one nice click.

Now just drag the halftoned layer back into your design and arrage the placement to however you want it and you are basically good to go. Once you get the placement of the texture to how you want it you need to cut out the texture from your solid design. This can be done by loading the selection (Select > Load Selection) and then once the selection is loaded click on the layer your original design is on (while still having the texture selected) and hit Edit > Cut. This will remove the texture from the original design so you will have a one color file that is ready to print. This finished product will look something like what is below.

Update: I have a new set of textures for sale via