I am looking to create some graphics that look like modernism vintage style.

Examples here:

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Any thoughts here?

  • Which application you use effects how you'd achieve this. Asking for 3 separate applications makes this a bit broad.
    – Scott
    Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 19:11

2 Answers 2


There are many ways to do this and to achieve this effect very easy you can just use a ready-made texture (search for example for “vintage” or “letterpress”).

If I wanted to make my own texture I would use photoshop and start with a new black layer on top of my image.

Then i would add a low amount of Noise to it (Filter > Noise > Add Noise …)

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Now press cmd/ctrlF a few times to add new instances of the effect on top and make the noise overlap in some places. This way you will get some dots that are brighter than others and therefore more variance in the noise. You can adjust this effect by using Curves or Brightness/Contrast.

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Now add a Layermaskand select it.

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Use Filter > Render > Cloudson the Layermask (Clouds will use your selected fore- and background color, so don’t forget to reset them to black and white by pressing D). This will make the noise visible in random patches. Now you just have to set the blend mode to Screen.

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I bet if you play around a little with the settings and maybe also try out some of the airbrush brushes in Photoshop, you can get a good result.

  • 1
    Thank You very very much, great explanation, this was very helpful for me.
    – Jack
    Commented Dec 17, 2014 at 8:06

Those aren't distressed per se. They are emulating offset printing on lower quality substrates. Photocopies, or newsprint.

Essentially, it's an effect that you'd see when printing solid blocks of color where you get uneven ink coverage.

The most typical way to achieve this is scanning in the actual texture you want to use. If you Google "print textures" you'll find plenty of examples. Another term to search for is "print grunge" (which hearkens back to the aesthetic of the mid-90s that paralleled music ala David Carson and Art Chantry.

Once you have the texture you like, you'd bring it in to your image editing software (typically your raster-based software such as Photoshop or Pixelmator) and play with layer blending until it looks the way you like it.

I have no personal affiliation, nor have I personally used it, but perhaps the easiest way to achieve this is to purchase a commercial package that does exactly this. Mister Retro's products do just this.

Final note: If you want to be accurate, note that you'd rarely see this effect all by itself. In other words, if you have poor ink coverage on press, you likely also have bad line definition...meaning your edges are going to be a bit rough, your corners will fill in due to ink bleed. You may also have splotches of ink outside if your defined image or large spots of no ink inside of your defined image (often referred to as spots and hickeys). Essentially, the effect is 'cheap and/or poor quality printing' and that can include a range of things that people would not want to see in higher end printing projects.


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