Photoshop/Illustrator Tutorial: Designing a Vexel Banner

In this tutorial I will teach you some of the techniques I use when designing my banners. It requires a basic knowledge of Illustrator and Photoshop, but if you don’t understand anything please feel free to ask me.

I have covered all the basic steps I used when making banners, but there are obviously a lot more things you could add to this to make it your own.

Vexel Banner Tutorial

About the Author

This tutorial was written by the very talented Molly-Anne Kristin, a 15-year-old graphic designer from London. You can view her deviantART page at or her personal website at

Step 1.

Open a new canvas in Photoshop – I generally use 1200 x 1000px. I will be using a paper texture scan from as the background. In Photoshop hit CTRL+T to resize it. I also changed the brightness/contrast to fade it.

Brightness/Contrast Adjustments for Background Texture

Step 2.

Now open up Illustrator. It doesn’t really matter what size document you use – I am going to use 1200 x 1000px again. Using the Paintbrush Tool (B) draw a random shape. Select the Warp Tool (Shift+R), and make your shape look even more random. I applied a purple / pink gradient to my shape.

Random Shape Designed in Illustrator

Something random like shown above will be great.

Step 3.

Hit the Selection Tool (V) and select your shape. Copy it (CTRL+C) and paste it (CTRL+V). Make it about 50% smaller, using the box around it. I applied an orange gradient to this new shape, and used the Warp Tool to alter it slightly.

Duplicate Shape Resized

Step 4.

Hit CTRL+A to select everything. Go to Object > Blend > Blend options, and make your settings are similar to mine. Then go to Object > Blend > Make.

Object Blend Settings/Options

Step 5.

Hit CTRL+A again, and copy this. Paste it into your Photoshop document as a Smart Object.

Step 6.

Repeat steps 2-5, except making completely different shapes each time.

More Random Shapes Created

Step 7.

Go into Illustrator again and delete everything on the canvas. Select the Paintbrush Tool (B), and draw some diagonal lines. Select the 5pt Oval brush, which is default in illustrator. I made the lines orange and 4pt.

Illustrator Stroke Option Settings

And this is what I’ve come up with:

Random Strokes made in Illustrator

Step 8.

Paste your new lines into your Photoshop document. Repeat step 7 a few times, changing the line thickness and colour. Experiment with the layer order, putting some of the lines behind the shapes.

Additional Stroke Layers Added

Coming together now!

Step 9.

I used a dotted line brush in Photoshop to add some more lines. I then applied a dotted pattern from Illustrator, which can be found in Patterns > Basic Graphics > Basic Graphics_Dots.

Dotted Brush Settings Photoshop

Illustrator Patterns and Settings

And after adding some patterns and brushes:

Patterns Added to Canvas

Step 10.

I then added some thick diagonal line brushes I made earlier. If you don’t have these, you can feel free to use mine:

Diagonal Lines Brush

Step 11.

Using a technique similar to Step 2, draw a random shape with the Paintbrush Tool (B) and Warp (Shift+R) it. I gave it a black stroke of 1px, and filled it in white. Paste this into your Photoshop canvas. I did this step twice.

Random Shape with Stroke Applied

More Random Shapes Added

Step 12.

I then repeated Step 11, but removed the black stroke and filled the entire shape with black. I applied a black drop shadow to the shape in Photoshop. You can do this twice if you think it needs it.

Apply Drop Shadow to Black Shape

(click for full size)

Step 13.

Create some unique brushes then add them to your document. These are some brushes I designed earlier:

Unique Illustrator Brushes

More Unique Brushes Unique Brush Shape

Step 14.

Create a cross shape in Photoshop, define it as a brush (Edit > Define Brush Preset), then change your brush settings (Window > Brushes) according to mine:

Cross Brush

(click above image for larger version)

Brush Settings 1

Brush Settings 2

Brush Settings 3

Brush Settings 4

Apply this brush to different areas of your canvas. I started by using the brush in a bright orange color (#ee9c27) and then in white. Put these “plus” layers at the bottom.

Step 15.

Now, back in Illustrator, draw 4 rectangles, each having a different colour. Leave a gap between each of them. It doesn’t matter how wide they are, but make them about 20px in height.

Differently-Colored Rectangle Shapes

Step 16.

Click “New Brush”, and make the new shapes into an Art Brush, click “OK” with all the default settings.

New Art Brush

Step 17.

Using this new brush, draw a path with either the Pen Tool (P) or Paintbrush Tool (B).

New Path with Brush Applied

Step 18.

Paste your rainbow shape into Photoshop. I pasted it onto a layer near the bottom. I also adjusted the Hue slightly, to make the colours work better.

Step 19.

Create a new layer in Photoshop on top of everything. Set the layer mode to Lighten. Using a large, soft brush (I used a 198px one), apply some random blobs onto your canvas. I used a gold / yellow colour, and then some more in hotpink.

Step 20.

You should finish up by adding some typo. I added some random text using the fonts: Bifurk and Cloister Black, which are both free fonts. I merged the layers, sharpened them, and voila!

Abstract Banner Final Version

Thanks for reading this tutorial everyone, and I hope you enjoyed it! Unfortunately the PSD file for this tutorial won’t be downloadable. Just remember to get creative and add your own steps while following the tutorial.

Recommended for designers
  1. stephen said at 2:07 pm on September 16, 2008

    What! Is this really happening. :D

    I’ve always wanted a tutorial like this!
    Krissy – ily. <3!


  2. jube said at 4:54 pm on September 16, 2008

    this tutorial is effing amazing!
    ive been waiting for a krissy tutorial FOREVER!

  3. maria said at 5:11 pm on September 16, 2008

    omg this is awesome. I wish I had these programs. xD It would take soo much longer with so many more steps if I attempted something like this on psp. But still really cool. Nice job Krissy. =D

  4. Nathan said at 8:55 pm on September 16, 2008

    ily Krissy for making this. :D
    i bookmarked this page so i wouldn’t forget it lol.
    <3 !

  5. Maggie said at 10:03 pm on September 16, 2008

    Great tutorial! I really love your dA, and this tutorial’s helped a lot. Keep up the good work!

  6. Julius said at 9:19 am on September 18, 2008

    Fantastic Tutorial!

  7. Blue Buffalo said at 8:06 pm on September 20, 2008

    Very cool! Nice use of the tools!

  8. putera_aladin said at 12:36 pm on September 21, 2008

    nice it..

  9. alex said at 5:36 am on September 24, 2008

    nice tut, the illustration really looks great.

  10. alex said at 4:18 am on October 1, 2008

    nice one!

  11. Simon Flow said at 6:55 am on November 2, 2008

    Is it possible to translate it in Italian and post it on a forum?
    obviously with the credits and the link of the site.

  12. mick14 said at 1:27 pm on January 3, 2009

    thinks for the tutorial!

  13. Lina said at 5:22 am on April 15, 2009

    I enjoyed it. A newbee like me needs basic-tutorals. It looks really cool and what an inspirastion.Thank’s a lot.


  14. elyO²m said at 10:47 pm on May 28, 2009

    I think it could be more fun to apply a displacement map to the whole colored composition in order to enhance realism. But it’s a very good tutorial ! Thx

  15. lily said at 6:20 pm on August 7, 2009

    its not complete. where can i get all of the brushes?

  16. Atasözleri ve Anlamları said at 10:53 pm on January 23, 2010

    Thank you this tuttorial is wonderful sir, you are perfect!

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