Learn how to create true halftone effects for any design context.
(logo whooshing) (gear clicking) - [Instructor] Welcome to Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory. I received another email question asking how to create halftone effects to use in a design. Now I've covered this subject in a past DVG Lab called Creating a Collage Poster so make sure to check that one out but in this movie I'm going to show you the way I prefer to do it. I like it because it's kind of old school and I like the aesthetic better so let me jump into it and explain what I mean by that.
On the left here you see a true halftone and on the right a simulated halftone. What's the difference between the two? Well let me zoom in on the true one and I'll explain it. And when we do that you can see it goes from left to right. It starts as black circles and it moves to the right and it gets ever bigger morphing into these kind of rounded corner squares until there's a convergence point and those squares merge with a reverse of that square and then it turns into a white circle and gets progressively smaller as it moves into the black and what you end up with is the illusion of a gradation from light to dark.
That's how traditional halftoning works and this was created in Photoshop which does traditional true life halftones. Now on the right is the simulated halftone and when I say simulated if I zoom in on this there is none of that morphing. There is none of that kind of cohesion between dark and light and it changes shape and moves into the darkness. It doesn't work that way. It's just a circle going from a small black circle to a large black circle to simulate a halftone but it really isn't a true halftone and another thing I mean by that if I select this shape and I go to the Appearance panel you can see I have color halftone applied to this shape.
If I turn this off this is all that's here but this effect will take that gradient and turn it into this simulated halftone. Now if I expanded this it doesn't give you vectors. It just embeds a raster image inside your Illustrator file and that tends to be the reason why I never really use this feature. I prefer going with a true halftone because, in my opinion, it's more authentic and it works a lot cooler on certain types of artwork and I want to walk you through one of those right now.
So we'll turn this layer off and we'll turn on this logo and this is for a place that does these specialized custom tours in gothic locations. Castles, haunted mansions, so on, and so forth. And we'll turn on a background image. We want to create a promotional graphic for them and sometimes when you use a logo on a dark background it's not going to show up too well so a lot of times you can just select the logo and colorize it. Let's say we turn it white and initially your first thought is well that works right there.
Why do you have to do anything else? Well I don't like the conceptual aspects of what it's doing. Meaning it's a raven. Raven's are they're black. They're not white. They're not brown. They're black and so I don't like turning a raven (chuckling) specifically with the name raven into a white raven. It just doesn't work well. So we want to go ahead and turn this back into a black because it's going to work a lot better. So we'll turn off the background really quick. I'm going to click into this isolated group.
Isolated group because I have this subtle highlight on the letters and we just want everything else other than that. I'm going to select it, copy it, click out of this, turn off that layer, turn on the glow layer, and Command + F paste and place what I just copied. On this, so you can see it, I'll turn it magenta. We're going to give it an absurdly fat outline stroke and right now it's one. We're going to go to 34 and you can see how the mitering is freaking out on these letter forms with all these points sticking out.
We're going to resolve that by turning corners to round and with this selected still we'll go up to Object, Path, and we're going to go to Outline Stroke so it changes that fat stroke to an actual shape. Once we have that we can go ahead to go to Pathfinder and unite everything together. Now notice there's these inner little pieces or artifacting. It's easy to get rid of 'em. You just double-click into this, Command + A to select everything, de-select the background shape and then everything's still selected, our artifacts, and you just hit Delete to get rid of 'em.
Click out of that and now you have your artwork. So if we turn on our logo you can see how it's just haloing our logo. That's the effect we're getting. If we turn on the background you see how it's separating the background from the logo. So that's kind of giving you a clue of what we're going to do here but we're going to push it a lot farther. I'm just going to create two circles here. It doesn't matter what size they are. We just want em. Circles, squares. Yes that's a circle. No we're going to select this first square and using a line and make sure on a line you have align to artboard set and with this selected I'll go align left, align top that puts one in the top left corner.
And the other one we'll go align right and align bottom and this puts it in the bottom right. We're defining the bounding box for this graphic and our document is set up to the same size that our Photoshop document is and that's what we're going to take this into into Photoshop. So we're going to go ahead and turn off this layer for the logo. We'll select these magenta shapes. We don't want to keep 'em magenta. We're going to color 'em in inky black. That is a black that will translate to RGB and be a rich black brought into Photoshop.
If we used the default black right here in Illustrator it'll come in in a grayish way and it's going to screw up what we're going to be doing inside of Photoshop. So with this selected I'm just going to copy it and now we're going to move to Photoshop and create the assets we need to further this project along. We're inside Photoshop now and I'm going to paste, Command + V, our artwork. We're going to paste as pixels so we'll click OK and we'll paste this in place. And this is all I did is I brought this vector artwork into Photoshop and rasterized it and we're going to do some effects on it to get what we want.
I'm going to select these corners that I used to bound it and just select and delete. We don't need those. We have it on its own layer right here and now I'm simply going to go to Filter. I'm going to pull down to Blur. I'm going to go to Gaussian Blur and right now it's set at 60. That, actually, that might work. Let's, maybe 70, let's try that. Nah, you know what? 60's going to work. Let's keep it at 60 and go OK. Now that we have that set for 60 the next thing we're going to do and oh by the way I should show you the image.
If I go to Image Size the size of the document is 400 pixels per inch. So just to let you know that. The next thing we want to do is I want to create from this a bitmap halftone. So how are we going to do that? We're going to go to Image, Mode, to Bitmap. Click on it. It'll say hey you're going to flatten your document. That's okay. That's what we need to do and here, on Output, right now it's telling us our input, our document resolution, is 400. We can do 400 here so we'll try that first.
Like this and then we want to go to halftone screen and click OK. It'll bring up another one. We want to select 45. You can do different shapes of halftone. Round, diamond, so on, and so forth. My two favorites are linear Line and Round but for this we're sticking with round. So the angle is 45. I almost always do 45 and the frequency is 18. This is going to make the halftone really big. Now you could experiment. You could do 45 but that's going to be too thin or I mean too fine of a dot so I think keeping it 18's going to work good and we'll click OK and this is what you end up with.
Now if I zoom in on this you can see the effect we're getting. It's that true halftone effect but we have some stair stepping meaning I don't like the resolution at 400. So all we have to do to change this is go Command + Z, go back to what we originally had. This is just reverting back as if we didn't do anything and we'll try it again and I do this all the time just to experiment with settings to see how I'm going to like it. And where it says where the resolution output is we're going to do 600 here. Give it some more resolution and on this one we'll keep the same settings and then if I zoom in on this that looks a lot better.
We're going to be fine by the time this is used. You're never even going to notice this and so, at this point, we want to save this out to the desktop so we can access it from Illustrator. So we're going to go to File and we're going to go to Save As and we're going to select TIFF. We're going to select the desktop here and we'll keep Halftone Glow as the name and we'll go Save. We'll select Mac.
We're on a Mac. If you're on PC select that. We want None for compression. Everything else leave by default and go OK. So we've saved a bitmapped TIFF of this halftone effect. Now I want to walk you through really quickly another thing we're going to use in our file. This is a stock photo from Adobe Stock. It was of lightning and I just turned the color photograph into a grayscale. Then I simply inverted it to turn it into black and white artwork like this and when I had it this far this is where I went to Mode, Bitmap.
We're going to kind of do the same thing we did with halftone but instead of halftoning under method we're going to go to Diffusion Dither and instead of 600 now you're going to be going what? You're using 100? That's low resolution. Well trust me I've been doing this for over 20 years and it works awesome and you're going to see why and believe it or not this is going to look awesome. And this is what it converts it to. Now it looks lousy kind of this size but let's zoom in and you can appreciate it. It breaks it down into dithered dots.
It's almost like halftoning but it's not really halftoning. It's a dither and if I zoom in even further all this is is distinct black and white dots. That's all it is and this is going to work great and if you notice the size down here it's 122 K. That's nuts. That's like tiny. That's nothing in terms of memory usage. So it works ideally for this kind of project and also works great for t-shirts by the way. So let's switch back to Photoshop or to Illustrator that is and we're going to put these assets to use.
So we're back inside Illustrator and we're going to go ahead and select these elements we used. We don't need 'em anymore. Just delete 'em and now with this layer selected we'll go up under File and we're going to go to Place. We're going to select our Halftone Glow from the desktop and we're going to click Place and then we'll just click to place it here. We have our alignment set up to our artboard so I can use that to center everything and because it's a bitmapped TIFF image anywhere that's white will be transparent as shown here and then I can color it white like this to get that nice glow and I can turn on the logo.
Look at how cool that looks. So that's as easy as it gets in terms of creating that kind of aesthetic. If I zoom in on this you can see kind of the look and feel we're going for here. It's going to work really well for this promotional image. Now what I'm going to do now is I'm just going to zoom out a little further from this like that and I'm going to turn on another layer and this is where we've created these dithered lightning and so that's all I'm going to do here. Instead of black just temporarily we're going to color this pink and I'm going to go ahead and just slide this over into place where I want it to be and on this one I think it's going to be really cool.
Ooh that looks like a good placement and I'll color it white. That's going to look kind of cool and then on this one I'll go ahead. This is made from a different photograph. I'll bring this over like this and then it's just a matter of placing it where you think it's going to look cool so I think this one's going to go a lot farther to the left here. Maybe not that far. That looks pretty good. Then I'll color that one white and now you can see what you get in terms of effect.
It looks really, really cool. I think this is going to work well and that's how you can take a simple graphic and, in this case, a logo sitting on a dark background and really create a nice narrative with your visual. This was a lot of fun to create. If I zoom in on this you can see what it looks like and I'm at an absurd zoom level right now. This is never going to be printed this big so the size it's going to print at is eight and a half by 11 so it's going to work really, really well and this methodology works for print.
It works for screenprint. It's just a great method that I've been using for years, and years, and years and I like to use Illustrator as the staging ground for designs like this. It also allows me to utilize various bitmap images that otherwise couldn't be combined together in a raster environment like Photoshop. I couldn't have a dither image within a grayscale image for example. I hope this explains how you can use halftones and dithers for that matter in your designs. If you have any question yourself just send your questions to me at question@DVGlab.com.
I'd love to get 'em and love to respond to 'em. Thank you for watching DVG Lab and remember never stop drawing.
Skill Level Intermediate
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