I'm looking to create a "retro" effect on some images. I don't know a better name for this style, the main features of it being few colors, flat design, and bold outlines.

Some examples:

Source image: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/10/Zion_angels_landing_view.jpg

"Retro" style: https://s3.amazonaws.com/adg-bucket/zion-national-park-angel-s-landing/medium.jpg

Source image: http://image.boomsbeat.com/data/images/full/113727/rick-knepper-jpg.jpg

"Retro" style: https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/7138b6Gz1bL.SY450.jpg

My inspiration is the posters of US national parks made in the 1930s that have a retro/vintage style to them that I'd like to recreate on my own images. What are some tools that I could use to achieve something close to this? Ideally something in script form that I could apply to a big set of images.

  • Your examples are illustrations -- someone drew them.. it's not a simple one click process.
    – Scott
    Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 6:52
  • Yes I understand that -- like I said, I'm looking to achieve something close and want to know what tools could mimic these designs. I never asked for a single solution to do this, nor would I expect one to exist.
    – jackarms
    Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 7:03

1 Answer 1


If you are looking for an automated solution, you could play around with the posterize or cutout effects in Photoshop (there are quite a few tutorials if you google it), and when you find a good setting or a workflow, record it to an action so that you can do the same to the whole batch.

But the results will probably be a lot better if you start with a live trace in Illustrator and adjust the different parameters as you see fit. Then expand the trace so that you can manually adjust it, maybe do a bit of clean up and even add new elements. You will have more control over the final result, but it will take more time.

  • Thank you! Posterize looks like it's what I'm after, just didn't know the right term. I guess if it's a poster effect I'm going for I should have guessed :)
    – jackarms
    Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 7:11

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