newspaper clippings tutorial

As promised here it is.

This little tutorial will explain the basics of replicating newspaper clippings of various levels of age.

 As you probably know it, newspaper clippings are the most common prop used in call of cthulhu scenarios. And almost every published scenario will include some of them to hand to your players. But, most of the time these are simple, one article clippings with a very simple design and once printed they will only look like a piece of standard white paper with an article printed on it and a blank back. I never figured why people forgot so often that newspapers were printed recto-verso…

 So if you are planning a game and already have the clippings that came with the scenario or you are designing new ones, you should begin by modifying it in Photoshop and preparing a text for the back of your clippings. Here is a little example of what newspaper clippings from scenario looks like, this one is from the plantation:

You will agree with the fact that it won’t make a really credible newspaper clipping when printed. So you’ll have to take the original text or the one you’ve written, transfer it in Photoshop, and make a nice layout for it. Here are some examples of some clippings I made for a game, note the verso I did with some various texts found on the web (much easier and faster than writing them).

This is maybe the more tedious and long step in making clippings. But once you’re done with it, start your printer and print them out, taking care to align the recto with the verso and put the text in the good direction. Cut or tear the edges of your clippings, you decide how neat you want them to be.

Next comes the aging and colouring of the paper. You surely noticed that newspapers were printed on greyish paper, never white one. So even if the newspaper clipping you are doing is supposed to be brand new, you’ll have to colour it a little. To bring this grey colour I use two products: iron buff and black tea., iron buff is the solution that is created when you mix some pieces of steel wool with vinegar and let it sit in an airtight container for a week or more. When some really concentrated black tea (high in tannic acid) is brushed and let to dry on paper and afterwards covered with iron buff it creates a strong gray color almost instantly. The color may even be too strong for new clippings so you might have to cut the iron buff with some more vinegar or water (a little bit of experimentation needed here). It is important to put the tea first and after the iron buff, because making it the other way around doesn’t give as good results, also it is important that the tea has dry thoroughly on your paper before brushing on the iron buff.


This was for recent or new newspaper clippings. But if the ones you want to create are supposed to be a couple of decades old, like the ones that could be found in newspaper archives? For this effect you will have to oxidize your clippings to simulate the aging process of the cheap acidic newspaper. This can be done quite easily by brushing pure iron buff directly on your paper for a strong yellowing that is nice to imitate really old clippings or by using other aging techniques like the ones I described in my other tutorial:

 Here are some examples of the diverse tints of paper that can be done with the  above-mentioned  techniques

And of course, as a finishing touch you can add some notes and annotations to the text by hand with a pen or pencil, or you can fold it a couple of times and carry it in your pocket for a week, etc

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5 Responses to newspaper clippings tutorial

  1. Mik says:

    Pretty interesting have to try the iron buff technique. I usually use paper from a kids drawing pad which is almost like newsprint paper in look and feel with the off-white coloring.

  2. chris says:

    Really great stuff. Thanks!

  3. cephalopodprods says:

    thank you!

  4. cephalopodprods says:

    yes that is good idea, also art material stores sells some newsprint paper for really cheap…

  5. Zipporah P. Morales says:

    it is really useful. thank you.

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