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Ivan's picture

Killer halftone effect

In PhotoShop you can create halftone effects (like the background of the type behind the word halftone in the image above) in just few steps with the help of the Bitmap Image Mode. This effect is very popular because it confuses and mesmerizes your eyes if used with enough contrast.

First create an object that you gonna use as your base for your halftone effect. Use the grayscale image mode at this stage. Try bulky typefaces or simple shapes to achieve the best effect.

Now, blur your object and play with the Brightness and Contrast settings, until you have a very dense blob with reasonably big blurry edges. You may need to duplicate your blurred objects layer to have dense black in the middle parts.

Now convert your image to Bitmap with Halftone Screen Method. You can specify higher resolution than your input image to achieve more detail in your final image.

In the next pop-up window you will need to input some more variables for your effect. The lower the Frequency the bigger the dots will be. For the Shape choose Round. Make sure you try out the other available shapes later.

You can save this bitmap as a tiff file. The nice thing about a bitmap tiff is that when you place it into other applications you will be able to change it's color. If you want to further manipulate your halftone image in Photoshop, you will need to first convert the bitmap image back to Grayscale and then to RGB Mode. Your eye killer psychedelic design is ready.

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Anonymous's picture

looks cool.... maybe you should attach a action to something like this... :) I mean c´mon... I´m sooo lazy... :)

Terry Thornhill's picture

You can also achieve similar results (and I think better looking exploded dots) by using the Filter/Pixelate/Color Halftone filter. By setting all four screens to the same angle (I usually use 45 degrees), thus creating a black halftone.

From there, you can also determine the size of the screen (or dot pattern) by experimenting with various values in the "Max Radius" field.

Shameless Promotion: If you want to see some pieces created using this technique, walk into any Journeys Shoe Store (at the mall) and check out their Xmas Theme this year... Boosted Cyan, Silver and Black exploded halftones. A tough sell for Xmas, but they look awesome.

Ivan's picture

Terry, got a picture of that Xmas design? Thanks for the tip for the alternative way to create the same effect!

tpsigns's picture
2 pencils

Hello all....

It might be kind of old but I'd like to make some halftones. Getting bent on them being circular and in vector format. I came across has a few vector halftones that are clean. How the heck was that done?? I've tried using photoshop but I need to get them into vector format. Being a signmaker, I need to cut them on a vinyl plotter. We recently had a customer that wanted to wrap his scion xb with them and unfortunately I couldnt make it happen.

I need help..... Im cross-eyed and cant sleep over these dopey dots. :D

Thanks all.


Creative_NRG's picture
483 pencils

One option is to create the halftone dot pattern and place that into Illustrator and use 'Live Trace' from the newer versions to convert it into vector. Not perfect but should get you the results you're looking for.

I'll do some research on another option from right in Photoshop or Illustrator. In the meantime here are some results from a quick Google search on "create vector halftone dots Illustrator". Maybe something here will help.

tpsigns's picture
2 pencils

Thanks for your reply Creative...

Those are some prized links full of info. it's a tough call trying to do this. I might have to let down my sword. It's taking alot of time out of me, but I wont give up.
In the meantime im going to fiddle around with some of those links and see about them halftones. Printing them probably would be best but they wouldn't be crisp dots.

Will see till then i guess.

Creative_NRG's picture
483 pencils

This tutorial was just posted by JimD (CreativeGuy) and details the Live Trace process I mentioned above.

natobasso's picture
3951 pencils

This is so cool! I was just trying to remember how to do this just this morning! Well done Ivan. Keep reading my mind. :)

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