This Photoshop Tutorial will walk you through the creation of a killer abstract sports poster design. While I am using this tutorial to show a sports subject, the techniques used can be effective for a wide variety of subjects.

If you complete this exorcise, please be sure to share your results in the comments below.

Step 1

Create a new file with a white background. In this example I am using a standard paper size canvas of 8.5″x11″ and 300 pixel/inch resolution.

Step 2

Add a nice fade or solid color to fill the canvas. I am using a fade from white to dark blue because the subject of my poster will be a player from the Broncos. You can use almost anything for the background, and keep in mind that you can change out the background layer later.

Step 3

Next, the fun part (kidding)! After choosing your sports icon, you must extract the image from the background. There are many ways of doing this, and hopefully you all have enough experience with this to know a variety of techniques and are capable of selecting the best method for the job. If you need help with extracting, or cutting, your image out from the background there are many other tutorials out there on the subject. Once you have cut out your image, you should have something that looks like this:

* Your extraction does not need to be perfect since we are creating a grunge design

Step 4

Now we are going to add some paint splashes behind the player. Of course it will make the most sense to use the colors associated with the team. So, I recommend getting a team logo to eye drop your colors from.

Using some simple watercolor brushes add color like I have done. If you do not have any watercolor brushes, you need to get some! There are several great sites out there with watercolor brushes, the ones I am using are found here. You may also want to add some splatters of color to flesh out the painting effect.

Step 5

Now we are going to collage in a sports element or two (the choice is yours). For this step you need to select an image that makes sense for your sport and photo. I am going to add a football field to the image to give a sense of grounding rather than having my photo appear to be floating in space. If you chose a hockey goalie, for example, you may want to use ice or backboards. If you have a chosen a baseball player making a catch, you may want to add a sky behind the player to give a surreal flying effect.

Once you have found a good image to use, place it behind the player.

Step 6

Select the layer with your new image then hold Alt and click on the layer mask button to create a black layer mask, this will hide the layer. Now press D and change your color pallet to the standard white over black. Using a round brush with 0% hardness and about 440px diameter, brush around your photo to reveal the new background image. In my case, I am only doing this on the bottom of the photo as I want to give a grounded feeling to the graphic.

Step 7

Using the Pattern Stamp tool and one of the watercolor brushes I added some graph-paper looking patterns to the graphic. I placed these stamps on a layer just behind the photo, so that it would create the appearance of the art having been torn through to a graph paper background.

Step 8

Go crazy! Using a small brush, I used 4px, start drawing random squiggles on a new layer. Play around with the depth placement of the layer to see what works best. Repeat the process with several colors on several layers to create more depth.

Step 9

Now it is time to add some finishing touches. I felt that the photo was looking a little two flat, so I have added a slight drop shadow to the player to help pull him off the page and give some added dimension. I added a square and a few other small dots to the image.

Step 10

Next, I have added thin white circles around some key elements of the photograph and complemented these circles with solid white dots nearby.

Step 11

Lastly, since the rings focus on key elements of the player, I am adding some white lines to the circles to create a crossheir appearance. I have erased small sections of the rings as well to give it a more random appearance.

Here is my final image:

If you work through this tutorial let us see how it turns out – post a link in the comments to share your work. Good luck!