When developing your skill set as a designer, you also
start to pick up habits. I use Photoshop differently
than my coworkers, and their use of the program may vary
from your own. Whatever the end result — in this case,
halftoning an image — there are multiple ways to arrive
First, let’s talk halftones. I use halftones
printing artwork. The idea is that you take a solid
color and break it up into a series of dots. The closer
and bigger the dots, the darker (and less detailed) the
image; and the smaller and more spread out they are, the
lighter (and more detailed) the image. Below are a few
different methods for making this happen.
Screen Printing involves taking images and breaking them
down to simple colors. You print the images by running
ink through a mesh screen (hence “screen” printing).
Since the ink needs shapes to pass through, people use
halftones to create the images. These steps will be
shown in black and white, just to convey the basic
method of creating the dots.
Photoshop likes to make things easy for us, so the first
trick on this list is to use the Photoshop Halftone
a new file and fill the document with a black and white
> Pixelate > Color Halftone
When the menu pops up, set all channels to “0” to remove
the color. In the top menu, Max Radius dictates the size
of the dots; the higher the number, the bigger the dots.
This second method is a really good way to get a subtly
different dot pattern, as well as a bit more texture and
a “grungy” Xerox-like result.
you have your art set up and your color gradients set,
> Mode > Grayscale. This removes all color from
the picture and sets your file up for bitmap.
the same process, this time, going toImage
> Mode > Bitmap, which will prompt the window
below. For this method, match the resolution to whatever
you set your file resolution to. (Since this is a web
post, mine is set to 72 dpi.)
the drop-down menu under “Method,” and pick “Halftone
Screen.” Play around with the next menu a bit to get a
style you like for your halftone pattern. For
“Frequency,” the lower the number, the bigger the dots.
For “Angle,” this is the angle at which the dots are
this is done, hit OK. You’ll be in bitmap mode still, so
make sure to toggleMode
You’ll see the jagged edges and rougher look commonly
used by designers going for the “Xerox” effect of an
image being repeatedly copied on a machine.
As you can see from the above two processes this often
takes a lot of trial and error — but what if you could
just “draw” your own halftones? IllustratorKyle
released a brush preset that lets you do just this.
Below are two videos: one of Kyle quickly showing off
the different styles of his brushes and the other
showing how to use them in a drawing for a “comic”
Because we all have limited time, and because not all of
us use Photoshop, here’s a series ofvector
the Shutterstock collection. Use any of these for your
project and you can simply scale and move your dots
around at will, without losing resolution.