Create a Wild Western "Wanted" Poster in Photoshop


Click on the image to see the final result in full size.

Tutorial Resources

Step 1: Drop in the Wooden Background

Create a new document in Photoshop by going to File > New (Ctrl/Cmd + N). Set the dimensions of the canvas to 1350x1350px.

Drop in the Wooden Background

Download and open Wood Grain Texture 5 in Photoshop, place it into the new Photoshop document and then scale it down to fit the canvas.

Drop in the Wooden Background

Step 2: Create the "Wanted" Poster Background

With the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M), draw a selection sized at 800x1200px for the background of the "Wanted" poster. Go to Edit > Fill to fill the selection with a beige color (#f2e7cb).

Create the "Wanted" Poster Background

Zoom in using the Zoom Tool (Z) so that we can focus on the edges of the poster’s background. Switch to the Lasso Tool (L) and then make an irregularly shaped selection at the top edge of the poster’s background.

Create the "Wanted" Poster Background

Once done, hit Delete to remove the selected parts of the poster’s background.

Create the "Wanted" Poster Background

Go around the edges of the poster’s background to roughen up all the sides. Patience and experimentation go a long way in this process.

Create the "Wanted" Poster Background

Create a selection around the poster’s background by Ctrl-clicking/Cmd-clicking on its layer’s thumbnail in the Layers Panel. Grab the Burn Tool (O) and, with a round, soft brush, brush over the poster background’s edges to give it a burnt look. Note that we load a selection around the poster’s background so that we only burn within the selection.

Step 3: Intensify the Burned Edges

Let’s intensify the burns around the edges. Create a new layer above the poster background layer (Ctrl/Cmd + Shift + N). The previous selection should still be active, but if you accidentally deselected, just go to Select > Reselect (Shift + Ctrl/Cmd + D). Set the Foreground color to a dark brown (#211a0a) and, on the new layer, fill the selection with the Foreground color by pressing Alt/Option + Backspace.

Intensify the Burned Edges

Go to Select > Modify > Contract and contract the selection by 10px.

Intensify the Burned Edges

Remove the selected inner area by pressing Delete.

Intensify the Burned Edges

Load a selection around the poster’s background again. On the dark brown layer, apply the Gaussian Blur filter with Radius set at 3px. Change the Blend Mode of the layer to Overlay and reduce its Opacity to 40%.

Intensify the Burned Edges

Deselect the selection (Ctrl/Cmd +D). Duplicate the dark brown layer (Ctrl/Cmd + J). Load a selection around the poster’s background again. On the duplicate dark brown layer, reuse the Gaussian Blur filter by going to Filter > Last Filter (Ctrl/Cmd + F). Set the layer’s Opacity to 50% afterwards.

Intensify the Burned Edges

Repeat the above process one more time, but this time, use a Radius of 5px for the Gaussian Blur filter on the new layer and set the layer Opacity to 20%.

Intensify the Burned Edges

Step 4: Add the First Block of Text

Set the Foreground color to a dark brown (#231d14). Switch to the Custom Shape Tool (U). Up in the Options Bar, under the Shape dropdown menu, choose the Point Right shape and then draw it on the upper left corner of the poster.

Add the First Block of Text

Duplicate this shape (Ctrl/Cmd + J). Go to Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal and position the duplicate shape on the upper right corner.

Add the First Block of Text

With the Horizontal Type Tool (T), type the word "PROCLAMATION" using the font Rockwell Std, Bold Condensed with the text color set to the dark brown we’ve been using (#231d14). Also, set the Vertically scale and Horizontally scale options to 70% and 180% respectively.

Add the First Block of Text

Add another text block below the first text block (settings of this new text block shown below).

Add the First Block of Text

Step 5: Add the "Wanted" Text

We will now be adding the word "WANTED" on our poster. Choose the Horizontal Type Tool (T), set the tool up so that you’re using Rockwell Std, Bold as the font and the same dark brown text color (#231d14), and then type the word "WANTED" below the text we added earlier. In the Character Panel, set Tracking to 50 (to give the letters more space in between them), Vertically scale to 120% and Horizontally scale to 150%.

Add the "Wanted" Text

Ctrl-click/Cmd-click on the "WANTED" text layer’s thumbnail to load a selection around the letters. Go to Select > Modify > Expand to expand the selection by 3px. Create a new layer below the text layer and, on the new layer, fill the selection with a light beige color (#f2e7cb).

Double-click on the new layer to access the Layer Style dialog window, and then give the layer a 1px Stroke layer effect (color of the stroke shown below).

Add the "Wanted" Text

Ctrl-click/Cmd-click on the text layer’s thumbnail to load a selection around the letters. Expand the selection by 1px by going to Select > Modify > Expand. Create a new layer below it and, on the newly created layer, fill the expanded selection with #231d14. Afterwards, switch to the Move Tool (V) and use your Arrow keys to move the layer 4px down and 2px to the right.

Add the "Wanted" Text

Step 6: Adding More Text

We need to add more text to our "Wanted" poster. Use the following images as a reference (the text color used is #231d14).

Adding More Text

Adding More Text

Note that for the "The Wild Bunch Gang" text, you have to set the Vertically scale option differently. First, set Vertically scale to 90% for the entire text layer. Afterwards, select the first letter of each word and then set the Vertically scale option to 100%.

Step 7: Add a Photo of the Wild Bunch Gang

I have used a Wild Bunch photo found on Wikimedia Commons, but feel free to use your preferred photo. Open the photo in Photoshop and then copy and paste it into our canvas. Use Free Transform (Ctrl/Cmd + T) to resize the photo a bit (make it smaller).

Add a Photo of the Wild Bunch Gang

Go to Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast to make tonal changes to the photo (settings shown below). Afterwards, set the layer’s Blend Mode to Multiply.

Add a Photo of the Wild Bunch Gang

With the Horizontal Type Tool (T), add names of the Wild Bunch members just below their photo.

Add a Photo of the Wild Bunch Gang

Step 8: Add the Bounty

Many Old West "Wanted" posters had monetary rewards for the capture of the individuals featured in the poster. Let’s add a bounty to our poster.

First, add a dollar sign using the Horizontal Type Tool (T) with the font Cooper Black sized at 120px. In the Character Panel, set the Vertically scale option to 110% and the text color to the dark brown we have been using (#231d14).

Add the Bounty

Use the text effect technique we used for the "WANTED" text (Step 5) on the dollar sign.

Add the Bounty

Beside the dollar sign, add the bounty’s value (I used "10000").

Add the Bounty

Below the bounty’s value, add the word "REWARD".

Add the Bounty

Use the same text effect technique in Step 5 to finish up the text.

Add the Bounty

Step 9: Add Some Textures

Download and open the Concrete Texture 02 texture (or your preferred texture from the Rough Concrete: Texture Pack freebie). Scale down the texture using Free Transform (Edit > Free Transform) so that it fits our poster’s dimensions.

Add the Bounty

Load a selection around the poster’s background again by Ctrl-clicking/Cmd-clicking on the layer’s thumbnail.

Add the Bounty

Make sure you are on the texture layer, then go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal Selection to apply a layer mask to the texture layer.

Add the Bounty

Change the Blend Mode of the layer to Overlay and Opacity to 60%.

Add the Bounty

Open the Fold 01 texture from the Folds: Texture Pack in Photoshop. Desaturate the texture by going to Image > Adjustments > Desaturate (Ctrl/Cmd + Shift + U) to remove the colors in the texture. Afterwards, copy and paste the texture into our Photoshop document. Using Free Transform (Ctrl/Cmd + T), scale down the Folds 01 texture to fit the poster’s background.

Add the Bounty

Set the Blend Mode of the layer to Multiply and lower the Opacity to 35%. Load a selection around the poster’s background then apply a layer mask to this layer by going to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal Selection.

Add the Bounty

Let’s add more texturing effects: Some noise and scratches.

Duplicate the Concrete Texture 02 layer and position it on top of all the layers. Desaturate the layer (Image > Adjustments > Desaturate) to remove its colors.

Add the Bounty

Go to Image > Adjustments > Invert (Ctrl/Cmd + I) to invert the colors of the concrete texture layer.

Add the Bounty

Press Ctrl/Cmd + L to access the Levels image adjustment dialog window and then increase the color contrast by modifying the Levels settings (use the image below as a reference).

Add the Bounty

Change the Blend Mode of the layer to Screen and then lower the Opacity to 70%.

Add the Bounty

Step 10: Nail Down the Poster

Let’s nail down the poster to the wood by creating the rusty nail heads. Create a new layer above all the layers. Zoom in to the upper right corner of the poster using the Zoom Tool (Z) so we can focus on the details of our nail head. Select the Elliptical Marquee Tool (M) from the Tools Panel, hold Shift to create a perfect circle and then make the marquee selection.

Nail Down the Poster

Set the Foreground color to gray (#434343) and the Background color to black (#000000). Switch to the Gradient Tool (G). In the Options Bar, choose the Radial Gradient option and click on the Gradient Editor in order to be able to set the gradient to the Foreground to Background gradient preset. Click-and-drag over the selection to make the color gradient.

Nail Down the Poster

Nail Down the Poster

Double-click on the nail head’s layer to access the Layer Style dialog window. Add the Bevel and Emboss layer effect using the settings shown below.

Nail Down the Poster

Grab the Custom Shape Tool (U) and, in the Shape dropdown menu up in the Options Bar, choose the 5 Point Star shape. Draw the star on top of the nail head.

Nail Down the Poster

Add the Inner Shadow layer effect on the star.

Nail Down the Poster

Create a new layer above the star layer. Switch to the Brush Tool (B), select the Chalk brush, set your Foreground color to white (#ffffff) and then click once over the nail head to apply your brush stroke.

Nail Down the Poster

Change the Blend Mode of the layer to Overlay and set the Opacity to 50%.

Nail Down the Poster

Group the three layers associated with the nail head in a layer group called "nails" by selecting the layers in the Layers Panel and then pressing Ctrl/Cmd + G.

Duplicate the "nail" layer group three times by right-clicking/Control-clicking on the layer group and choosing Duplicate Group from the menu that appears. Use the Move Tool (V) to relocate the duplicate nail heads to each corner of the poster.

Nail Down the Poster

Step 11: Final Touches and Tweaks

Let us add some finishing touches to our Wild West "Wanted" poster design.

First, we need to add a drop shadow below the poster, so create a new layer just below the poster background layer for the drop shadow. Load a selection around the poster background. Fill the selection with black (#000000) on the new layer.

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, use a 1.1px Radius and apply the filter on the drop shadow layer.

Final Touches and Tweaks

Copy the drop shadow layer and then give the copy a Gaussian blur of 3px.

Final Touches and Tweaks

We are almost at the finish line! Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Photo Filter to add an adjustment layer above all the other layers to harmonize the colors of our artwork.

Final Touches and Tweaks

Final Touches and Tweaks

That’s it, we’re done!

Tutorial Summary

In this tutorial, we created a Wild West "Wanted" poster using Photoshop. We used the Lasso Tool to roughen/tear up the edges of the poster, the Burn Tool to age the surface, and plenty of textures to create folds and scratches. I shared with you an awesome text effect technique that you can see on the "WANTED" text and the bounty text. To top it all off, we used a Photo Filter adjustment layer to adjust the overall color scheme of our piece. We did all that and more!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and I hope you have learned some useful techniques that you can use in your design work. I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments. Thanks for following along with me! Stay tuned for more awesome tutorials!


Download Source Files

  • Great tutorial – I’m going to give this a go. I really like the old feel to it.

  • Skills

    you done great job again m8

    only i will use font from movie poster
    True Grit
    jedan od ovih ^^^^^
    ispalo je nesto ovako ovo je nabrzinu^^^^^

    cheers m8 and thx again

  • Jasmina Stanojevic

    Great tutorial Nikola! Very easy to follow. Looking forward to see more of your work. Pozdrav!

  • thanks bud! love your versions of poster.

  • Thanks Jasmina, glad you like it! Love your illustrator tuts btw.

  • Very cool!

  • basuki

    You can add more details like shadowing the paper a little, because it is installed on the wood fence / wall, right?
    Thank you for the tutorial.

  • 9ale7

    thank you for the files

  • Thank you! This is fantastic! Please let me know if I’ve used and attributed this properly on my site.

  • Alam Chowdhury

    I am very impressive. It’s a nice, attractive and eye catching creation.
    Thanks for the tutorial.

  • Lany

    Ty so much as I had a poster to do with a western theme this helped alot 🙂

  • Pam

    OMG, I just finished your tut. Love it…looks great. TY for the awesome tut.

  • CWalker

    I LOVE your poster! What Version of Photoshop are you using? I am trying to repeat the WANTED Text but cannot seem to get to the select modify point. Any baby step pointers would be much appreciated. I am using CS2. Please help!

  • Hi CWalker, I’m using CS5, but I think you can do the same with CS2.

  • Deepali Ghanekar

    Just finished ur tutorial…had fun and learnt a lot frm it…thnx a ton Nikola… 🙂

  • Heather

    Thank you so much! I learned a lot of quick keyboard shortcuts and how to put them to use in the future. I’ve been well experienced in illustrator & indesign, but photoshop has always been my weakness. Thanks for the great tutorial and easy to follow instruction.

  • Awesome tut gonna try it m for sure..though i just a newbie i hope i will be able to do it… 😛 Thanks 🙂

  • Don

    Step 5 Does Not Work To Get the Lines Around the Text.

  • JC Parmley

    I’m not sure which part is giving you the issue, but I’m having a little problem loading the selection around the letters. My work around is to use the Magic Wand Tool. By Selecting the text layer then Select>Inverse does the same thing by loading the selection around the letters. From there I was able to continue through the rest of Step 5.

  • john

    Hey this was a nice tutorial. Did you end up making a poster?

  • Don

    JC the part that Giving me The Problems is The stated Instructions. and Thank You for the Help.

  • diego solís

    Thank you so much for this tutorial, I am going to try it.

  • Thank you for this tutoiral, I am going to try something similar I love that the old fashion feel is so easy to create following your instructions thanks

  • Awesome tutorial!

    I am having an issue vertically aligning the $ and the 1000.
    Are they different text boxes?

  • AhMaD

    So thanks, used and was so good…

  • Steven

    Very nice tutorial. You explain everything clear and simple. I still consider myself a novice in Photoshop but I was able to keep up with the instructions quite easily.
    I used a diffrent font and sometimes a slightly higher/lower ocapacity or another blend mode. But it still looks quite a lot like yours.
    Here is my result:

    I’m thinking about maybe using this guide to make a fictional gig-poster for a friend of mine


    When I do Step 2 with the lassoo tool I get a white border around the irregular shape I’ve made and I can’t seem to change it to the wood effect.

  • JC Parmley

    kenny, make sure you are doing step 2 in a New Layer (Shift+Ctrl/Command+N). This layer should be on top of the wood background. Let me know if this helped.

  • Harry Lime III

    Thanks a bunch, detailed yet easy to follow. This was my first foray into Photoshop. Fooled around a lot with it, good fun–thanks again. –you probably have to watch/listen to The Dan Patrick Show to understand it

  • NWilson

    Fantastic tutorial – thank you so much. We couldn’t get the burn tool to work, so any advice on that would be greatly appreciated.

  • NWilson

    PS – sorry, we are using Photoshop Elements 7 on Windows 7!

  • NWilson

    Ooh – just figured it out. I had made a new layer for the burnt edges, but should have kept working on the existing layer. Thanks anyway! Trial and error and persistence – you’re right!

  • Macfer Antony

    its very useful and nice tutorial. Thank you.

  • Paul

    Where can I download the point right and left shape?

  • y

    Couldn’t follow along. This is for advanced, very hard to follow nothing worked out.

  • eh

    its great tutorial thanks a lot

  • Hi,
    I love your blog and posts. I am a graphic designer myself:) I made a new site about photoshop tutorials and posted a tut about wanted poster.

    If you like my tut , I would appreciate if you can share them with your readers.


  • Robert

    Great tutorial and psd, many thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Thank you.Great job in tutorial .;)

  • charlene

    What’s the largest size to print? My son has to do project but has to be 1/2 sheet of posterboard…….any ideas to print?

  • Kinu Maillian

    I dont really understand what it is your showing????

  • kayla

    this was a GREAT tutorial!!!! definitely going to use it again thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Dilushan

    Great! I was looking for this kind tutorial and this is very good. thanks.

  • Arfon

    Superb Tutorial. Used it to make a pirate patry poster.

  • Andy

    This was AMAZING! Easy to navigate and i managed to make the poster (but used a different picture and gang name :P) awesome job man!

  • That’s so cool Andy! Feel free to post a link to your results if you want to.

  • Amanda

    Thank you for this awesome template!

  • Autumn

    That was fun! Thanks! Check it out!

  • Glad you had fun with this tutorial Autumn. Thanks for sharing your final result too!

  • Its rally awesome and beyond imagination. Thanks

  • This is my Wanted Poster. Hope to receive comments from you guys. Thanks.

  • Great job on this Ni! My one critique is that your photo could have a bit of distressing at the edges so that it doesn’t look so superimposed. Perhaps just add some wear-and-tear and soften up the corners. My $0.02!

  • ham

    if you think this is advanced you are an idiot a group of stupid highschool students (me) did this in two days with a week of poor photoshop instruction

  • zitto


  • Mad Mad 25 freak in the sheets

    You’re very welcome boi