Create A Retro Inspired Business Card

In today’s tutorial Kendra Gaines will be running you through creating a beautiful retro business card in Photoshop. Its a detailed tutorial focusing on all the aspects of the design and creation. People love having there own business cards and won’t it be great to know you can create your own? Let’s find out how Kendra did it.

Final Preview


Hey all. My name is Kendra Gaines aka @kgainez and I am coming to you all today with a VERY in depth tutorial on how to create (what I think is) a retro inspired business (print-ready). While it’s a fairly simple business card, I really hope you all pick up some good techniques and tricks from this tutorial.

As far as knowledge level, I think a beginner could do this tutorial, but of course’ it’d be a bit easier if you’ve been inside Photoshop before. I am using Creative Suite 5 on my Mac.


I love fonts! I’ve used quite a couple fonts that you may want to download before starting this tutorial:
Dancing Script
Interstate (There is a similar font called Blue Highway).

We are also going to be using a VERY useful pattern as well. This is great resource:
Dooffy Pattern Set

Once you download all that stuff, let’s get started!

Step 1.

So to begin your Print-Ready Business Card, you want to create a New Document in Photoshop. Make sure you are using inches, turn your color mode to CMYK. A business card’s dimensions are 3.5 inches by 2 inches. In the print world, when you want to add a bleed (so that the color goes all the way to the edges) you want to add an extra 1/8 (.125) of an inch. Important: Make sure you are using 300 dpi Resolution.

Step 2.

I wanted to use a retro kind of color, so I’ve picked what I think is a ‘dirty pale yellow’ color. Inside the outlined red box is typically where I look to get my retro/washed out colors.

On your blank canvas, grab your paint-brush tool (G), and fill it with this yellow color.

This is my secondary color–a very deep gray. Great contrast in colors really works for simpler designs, especially in print. If you want to make sure it’s grayer looking when you print it, don’t pick too deep of a gray. Almost always when you print, your colors will come out a bit darker than viewed in PhotoShop.

Step 3.

On your tool palette, select your shape tool (U). You may have to make sure the ‘Custom Shape’ Tool is selected, just by clicking the shape that looks like a blob. You’re going to create your emblem/seal by selecting the seal from the custom shapes drop down (see above picture).
*Make sure you hit the arrow on the Shape’s dialog box to make sure ‘All’ shapes appear on your list.

Get to your canvas, and with your shape tool activated, hold down Shift, and Click & Drag your Seal (left-click) to a desirable size on your canvas.

Step 4.

I wanted the seal to look a bit fuller. I didn’t like the way it looked with one seal so I duplicated (Cmd/Ctrl + J) that same seal and rotated it (Cmd/Ctrl + T) so the points were in between each other.

Above is what the finished product should look like. Looks a lot better, right?

Too condense layers and help with organization it’s best to merge like layers. Since these two seals make up one shape, we are going to convert them to a ‘Smart Object.; Select both layers (Cmd/Ctrl + Left click) then right-click on the layers to get this menu. Select ‘Convert to Smart Object.’

Step 5.

Now we want to put the initials in the seal shape. Grab your type tool (T), click in the seal and type your initials in the Dancing Script font. Above are my settings for the typo. Notice my tracking is at -10.
*Get in the habit of renaming your layers by double clicking the name of the layer and just typing it in

Step 6.

Now you want to put the little swoosh under your initials. Grab the Shape Tool again (U) and this time make sure you are using the Eclipse setting. In your yellow color, create a small oval much like the one above.

Step 7.

Now you want to warp it to make it look more like an organic swoosh. Go to Edit > Transform > Warp and play around with the points to your liking. I like to widen out the rightmost points, and squeeze in the leftmost points. You also want to try to create some movement by moving up or down the middle points and lines. Play around with it until you get something you like.

You want to try to get something like this (above). You may have to play with the scaling and rotation as well.

Step 8.

Now to make the dotted lines. Select your Paintbrush tool (B) and choose a round hard brush. I chose a size of 5px. On the toolbar on the right of your selected brush (above), click the little icon that looks like a folder with the paintbrushes in it.

When you open this Brush settings menu, you want to increase the Spacing of the brush. I have mine set at 200%. Make sure the other settings are the same as the above as well.

On your canvas in your gray color, you want to Create a New Layer (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N). Choose a spot to start at on the left side. Hold down Shift and Left-Click and Drag your mouse to a stopping point on the right side. It should look like the image above. Rename this layer ‘dotted lines.’
*Sometimes you may have to go to Filters > Sharpen > Sharpen to clean up the slight blur on the dots.

Step 9.

Now we want to create our title to go to the left of the seal, below our current dotted line. Grab your Type Tool (T) and click on your canvas, and type whatever your title may be. I used the Quicksand Font for this, with settings like the above. Please notice my tracking is at 120. Depending on your titles you use, you may use less or more tracking.

You want your image to look much like the above.

Step 10.

Follow the directions from Step 9 to create a title on the right side of your seal.Your current image should look like the above. You want to try to make everything as balanced and even as possible.

Step 11.

Duplicate your original ‘dotted line’ layer by pressing Cmd/Ctrl + J.

Hold Shift and drag the new layer underneath your titles. Try to make sure it’s evenly spaced and comfortably surrounding the text.

Step 12.

We want to make our Layers Palette very neat, so we want to group all of our current layers. Select all your current layers (with the exception of the Background) by selecting your top layer (which should be ‘dotted line copy’), hold Shift and select your bottom layer (should be your ‘seal’ shape), then go to Layers > Group Layers. I renamed my group to ’emblem.’

Step 13.

Moving on to the next part of the business card, your name, select the Type Tool (T), click on the canvas and type your name. This time we are going to utilize our Interstate font. Notice I’m using the Bold Compressed style.  I’m fortunately enough to have an even number of letters in both my names, but you may have to do some messing around. I wanted it to be weighted evenly on the left and right side of the seal, so I added some extra spaces in between my names.

Step 14.

After you’ve figured that out, you want to duplicate your layer (Cmd/Ctrl + J). Select your original layer (because it is behind the copy). Turn your Fill down to 0%.

Step 15.

Now you want to get your Layer Style settings. Make sure you’re using the name layer that is behind the other. On your layer palette, there is a button that has an ‘fx’ on it (second from the left). You want to change your Pattern Overlay and use the Dooffy Pattern Set. I chose the 4 pixel line.
*To get to the Dooffy Pattern Set, you will have to click the arrow to the right of the Pattern box, click on Load Pattern and locate your Dooffy Pattern Set.

Step 16.

On that layer with the line pattern on it, you want to use your arrow keys to nudge it down and over. I hit my down arrow 5 times and hit my right arrow 5 times as well, so it would like the above image.

Step 17.

Once you’ve gotten your pattern shadow in a decent position, you want yo try to fill in the space you created between your name. Grab your Shape Tool (U), and put it on the Line Setting. On your toolbar, make the weight 2px.

Hold Shift and click and drag your line in between your name. Duplicate your line and position it under your first line.

Step 18.

AGain to try to condense layers, we’re going to select both these lines we just made and covert them to smart objects by right-clicking on the layers and selecting Covert to Smart Object.

Step 19.

Now you want to group your layers again (Step 12) and name your group ‘name.’ Your image should look similar to the image below.

Step 20.

On to the phone number portion, grab your Shape Tool (U) and make sure you’re on the rounded rectangle setting. Change your Radius to 50 px. Click on your canvas and make an oval like shape, make sure isn’t too tall so that it looks like a pill (see bottom image).

Step 21.

Grab your Type Tool (T) and pull up your Pompadour font. Please be aware, this only a numeral set with some other characters. Click inside of your pill shape and type your number. Above are the settings I used–notice the tracking is set to -10.

Step 22.

I linked these two layers to make sure they stay together. Just select both layers (Cmd/Ctrl + Left Click) and hit the chain on the bottom left of the Layer’s Palette.

Step 23.

Now we are going to make the circles next to the pill shape. Grab your Shape Tool (U) and make sure you have it on the Eclipse Setting.

Shift + Left Click and drag to create a circle that is slightly smaller than your pill shape. Once you create one, duplicate the layer (Cmd/Ctrl + J) and create another and move it further from the pill. Follow these same steps on the side. You want it to look similar to the image below.

Step 24.

I created Smart Objects (Step 18) from each pair of circles and named them ‘circle left’ and ‘circle right’, accordingly.

Keeping things clean and organized, you want to group your number layers and name that group ‘number.’

Step 25.

I stole the dotted lines from our original emblem layer. just select your two lines in your ’emblem’ group and Duplicate them (Ctrl/Cmd + J). Drag them in the Layers Palette outside the group and to the top of the Layers list. Once you do that, you can position them under your number info  on the canvas. Your Layers Palette should look like the image below.

Step 26.

Grab your Type Tool (U) and in Quicksand, type your e-mail address in between your bottom dotted lines (much like you did in your earlier steps). Because we have a lot more information going inside these lines, you want to tighten the tracking up a bit (I set mine to -75).

Step 27.

Now, we’re going to add a mail icon next to your email address to give it some character. Grab your Shape Tool (U), and make sure it’s on the Custom Shape Setting. You’ll have to scroll down a bit to find it, but select that Envelope shape. Shift + Left Click and Drag your Envelope next you your e-mail address.
*Make sure you hit the arrow on the Shape’s dialog box to make sure ‘All’ shapes appear on your list.

Step 28.

Link your layers (Step 22) to guarantee they will always be together.

Step 29.

Call up Shape Tool (U) again and this time, grab the Globe Shape. Draw it up on your canvas and make sure you type your website’s name next to it.

Step 30.

Link up your website layers.

Step 31.

For this last portion I actually had to search google images for the ‘twitter t’ icon. I would recommend using this one. Once you download it, open it and drag it into your business card’s canvas and put a Color Overlay on it. Pull up your Layer Effects (Step 15) and click the Color Overlay checkbox and use the settings used in the above image. After you do that, grab your Type Tool (T) and type in your Twitter Username.

Progress Check

A quick progress check to make sure everything looks right. Here is what it should look like thus far. This is the basis of the business card.

Below is what your Layer’s Palette should look like when all groups are compressed. We grouped all the contact information and named it ‘contact’.

Step 32.

To add some character on this Card, select your Background layer and we are going to grab our Burn Tool (O). Make sure it is on the burn setting, as there are some other settings on it. You want to ‘burn’ around the edges of your card to give it a dirty look. This is completely optional, but I like the look. Play around with your range and your exposure. This is using the Burn tool on the Midtones Range.

Step 33.

Here is what it looks like when you use the burn tool on the Highlights range. Play around with your brush sizes and different exposures to see what you like. It kind of adds a western feel to it.

And that’s it! You have a new print-ready business card! Send it off to your printer and get some cards printed up. If you said screw all that and just want the template, you can download the source files below.

If you have any questions or what to show me what you’ve come up with, hit me up on twitter, @kgainez!

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  1. Reply Brandon Halliburton April 13, 2011 at 4:36 PM

    Very retro.

    Good job!


  2. Reply Daveido April 22, 2011 at 4:30 PM

    Wow, nice, love it, and it is a really detailed tutorial! Definately will try to create something myself in this style :)

  3. Reply LisaT April 23, 2011 at 5:04 PM


    I just finished your tutorial, wanted to thank you. It was very informative, easy to follow and the end result was fabulous! Looking forward to more tutorials


  4. Reply Ted Baker December 4, 2011 at 12:15 PM

    I am just to start your tutorial, I hope I’ll be able to finish it up.

  5. Reply luis April 11, 2014 at 11:24 PM

    very nice tutorial thank you
    for sharing such a great techniques

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