Halftone Mania

When I was thumbing through some magazines the other day, I noticed a number of ads using halftone effects. Photoshop provides a few different ways to show a halftone effect. This tutorial will walk you through them.

The first one is the Halftone Pattern filter. We’ll start with our image, I used another from PhotoSpin (PhotoSpin #1490009), and extracting the object from the background.


The Halftone Pattern Filter works with the two colors you have chosen as your foreground/background. I sampled two colors from her skin.


Duplicate the layer [Ctrl + J]. Go to [Filter > Sketch > Halftone Pattern]. You can adjust the settings as you wish, my settings were:

Size: 2

Contrast: 5

Pattern Type: dot



Prett exciting, huh? I haven’t found any practical uses for that one yet, but now you know it’s there.

The next one is the Color Halftone filter. Start by duplicating your layer [Ctrl + J]. Select the original layer (not the one you just duplicated) and run a Gaussian Blur [Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur]. Set the amount high, to 30 or 40 pixels.


Now go to [Filter > Pixelate > Color Halftone]. You can adjust the settings as you want, but I just left mine default. Hit OK, and now…


The third way is a little more of the effect I see in magazines. Right-click on your object layer and choose Duplicate Layer. When the dialog pops up, name it whatever you like, but set the destination to New.


In your new document, go to [Image > Mode > Grayscale]. A dialog might pop-up asking to discard the color information. Choose yes.

Now run a big Gaussian Blur [Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur] of around 30 or 40.


Go to [Image > Mode > Bitmap]. Under Method, choose Halftone Screen.


In the next dialog box, set the Frequency to around 8 or 10 and the Shape to Round.


You should now get an effect like this:


Set the Image Mode back to Grayscale [Image > Mode > Grayscale]. Apply a slight Guassian blur of around 1-pixel to smooth out the rough edges.


Now bring up the Levels Dialog [Ctrl + L] and drag the sliders closer to each other to sharpen the pattern a bit.


You can now drag that layer back to your original document.


That’s about it for Photoshop’s halftone effects.


Comments Spill 4 Comments »

  1. June 6, 2008 3:06 amMissa

    This is fantastic!! I was going mad trying to figure out how to make halftone brushes, but this is so much more simple and I’ll probably ending using this more than the stinkin brush anyway! Thank you!

  2. August 7, 2008 5:59 amoak

    on the third one…seems like taking it to bitmap and then back to grayscale pretty much requires a white background. Do you know of way to do the technique and preserve transparency?

  3. September 30, 2008 6:31 amPFD Studio

    To get transparency, convert the bitmap back to grayscale, and then use the Select->Color range… option to select the white background (or select the black and choose Inverse). Once the white background is selected, just cut it to get a transparent background. (You may have to explicitly rename the layer something other than “Background” to unlock it.)

  4. November 14, 2008 7:56 pmJim

    I’m having a similar problem…I start with a psd file with a transparent background. After Mode> Grayscale, Mode >Bitmap, Halftone, etc, the process automatically adds a white background to the image. If the image weren’t halftoned I could just use the Magic Wand tool and cut out the image, but the dots make this impossible.

    So, is there a way to create a halftone in Photoshop with it preserving the transparent background or an easy way to remove the white background once it’s been added? I tried the Select > Color Range and it didn’t work for me.

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