Beginner’s guide to creating a two-pole/flag Pt. 1

A lot of you have been looking to make your own flags/two-pole banners, but you aren’t sure how to do it. If you have Photoshop, it’s pretty easy to do. You can download a free 30-day trial of Adobe products like Photoshop and Illustrator from the Adobe site. Go ahead, I’ll wait here while you do that.

Got it? Great. Let’s start with something simple that doesn’t require a whole lot of designing. I’ve mashed together three or four ideas for tifo from last year to come up with something pretty basic:


The first thing you’ll want to do to create a flag like this is grab the main image you’re looking for from the web and save it to your desktop (right-click the image, save as…then save to the desktop).

saving the image

From there, you’ll open it up in Photoshop. It doesn’t matter if the image is kind of small, it’s getting edited anyway. Once you’ve opened it in Photoshop, you’re going to cut out the image. You could do this by using the Magnetic Lasso tool, but it’s easier to use the Quick Selection tool.


To use the Quick Selection tool, you’ll need to click on the part of the image that you want to keep. I’m keeping Cozmo, so I’m just clicking through on Cozmo’s body to select him.

Skippy or Peter Pan peanut butter?

Once I’ve selected all of Cozmo, I’ll need to place him on another artboard (document). To do that, I’m going to create a new artboard by hitting ctrl+N on a PC or command+N on a Mac. That will bring up a create new box that you can use to edit your specs.

x-ray spex!

Once you have the new artboard set up, go back to your original artboard and hit ctrl+C (PC) or command+C (Mac) to capture what you’ve selected. From there, you’re going to switch back over to your new artboard and hit ctrl+P/command+P. This will place your image in the middle of the canvas, but worry not! You can move the image to wherever you want.

copypasta! delish!

Once you have placed and resized the image, you’ll want to make it more like a stencil and less like a photo. You can do that a couple of ways. The first thing I did was change the image to greyscale to make it easier to work with (yes, you want to flatten the image, yes, you want to discard color information).

not SHINee

Then I lightened up the image using the Dodge tool.

Weave and dodge? NO.

After you select the dodge tool, go up to Range and select what range you’re dodging (shadows, midtones, highlights).

No guns allowed.

Once you’ve selected the range, go ahead and click and drag your cursor over the parts of the image you’re lightening. I lightened both the midtones and the shadows and pretty much stuck to Cozmo’s head. Once you’ve dodged your image to your satisfaction, the next step is to set the image threshold. This will essentially turn the image into a stencil.

Not quite a door

Once you’ve selected the image threshold option, you can play around with the levels until you get your stencil how you like it.

+50 stealth

If you think some sections of the image are still too dark (or you just don’t want to paint as much), you can use the Eraser tool to adjust how much of the stencil is going to be dark.

Eraserhead wut?

Once you’ve got your stencil down, you can add your text. If you’re not a fan of the basic preloaded fonts available on your computer (who is?), there are plenty of websites that have free downloadable fonts. Add your text by using the Type tool.

Type? Oh, you know...tall, dark, and handsome.

Part 2 of this post will be a tutorial on getting your stencil to fabric. Stay tuned!

Questions, comments, concerns, wanna tell me where I can stick it?
Twitter: @KieranTL
Facebook: kierantl

  • Alexdrod

    Just a heads up for those who don’t want to spend the money after the trial expires: GIMP is a free photo editing tool that is comparable to photoshop.

    • Kier

      Good info!

  • Really good tutorial thanks @KieranTL:disqus!