Join Von Glitschka for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating a halftone type design, part of Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory.
- [Narrator] Welcome to Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory. In this movie I want to share with you a process I've used to create, fun, half toned styled designs. I've turned to this method to create everything from T-shirt graphics, which was the original inspiration behind this method, and custom editorial typography as well as other designs and layouts needing this look and feel. So we're going to go ahead and jump into this and the first thing I want to show you is just some live type here.
This is actually a font I created back in the mid-90s called Beat Street and I don't know how many of you have tried this feature. I do not think it's available in CS6, I think it's CC and above, and that is the touch type tool. So if I select that, what does that allow you to do? It allows you to take any live font that you're using in Illustrator and you can isolate a live font, the characters, and it allows you to manipulate them, to rotate them, to move them, to scale them and you can grab them and move them around.
You can grab any of the letter forms, you can start kind of bouncing it around. You can grab parts of it and distort it in certain ways, grab another letter form, maybe you move this one around and this is basically how it works, as I'm showing you here. Now, I'm going to freely admit right up front that I'm not a fan of this. Frankly, I don't use this ever because when it's all said and done it doesn't save me any time. A lot of people like to say, "You can then, if you deselect "this you can go back and you could type in a new word "and you don't have to make any of the--" Well no because if I go in here and let's say if I change this to a K, it's still not, it's spaced the way it was but because letter forms change in terms of their shape and fit, it's not going to always work.
You're still going to have to finesse it and get it to look good. But I just thought I'd show you that really quickly. But I did force myself to use it in order to create this base art. So you can see, if you look at the base line on this font, they're all varied. That's because I used the type touch tool to adjust and massage these things. So we're going to walk you through a process of how I staged and setup my art, then I'm going to take it to Photoshop and we're going to do some fun stuff with it.
So the first thing I want to do is I want to select my type face here. We're going to go to effect, we're going to go down to stylize, and we're going to go over to feather. And under feather, let's see what five point looks like. No, I want it to be more than that so we'll go 10. And all feather is doing is it's eating away at the character from the outside in. Unlike gauge and blur that blurs the edge of the form and it goes outward as well, this keeps everything inside.
So think of a photograph that's out of focus and it's blowing out because the background's too bright, that's kind of the look and feel we want. So that's what I'll do there. Then I'm going to take rectangle tool and I'm simply going to create a bounding box. Meaning a shape that defines an area, approximately like that should work. I'm going to color it white and I'm going to paste it behind our type. So I have this white vector box, I have my type here and then the next thing I'm going to do is I'm going to go to the asset export, we're going to open that up here, like this, and I'm going to select these two items, the live type and the white box, I'm going to drag them into the export window here.
And then we'll just name this beta type. Like this. And we're going to export this out as with resolution, but I want it to be pretty high res so we're going to go with PPI and then I'm going to go to a normal ping because I have a white background, I want to retain that so I'll go normal ping. And with this we'll go ahead and go export and we'll select the desktop and we'll go choose.
And that's going to save that to our desktop. Now we're going to switch to Photoshop and continue our process there. In Photoshop I'm going to go up to file, I'm going to go to open, I'm going to go to my desktop and there's the type we exported. We'll go ahead and open that. And now with this open we want to change the color mode. So we're going to go down to image mode and we're going to go to grayscale here. And we'll go discard 'cause we want to just have a simple grayscale.
And the first thing I want to do is I want to adjust my levels. So we'll go to adjustment, we'll go to levels, I'll bring this down over here and I'll and I want to do is I want to make some solid black so I'm going to pull that in a little bit. Not a whole lot of adjustment. Maybe bring the right in just barely. I don't want to do it too much 'cause I want to keep a lot of that mid-tone in there, I think that's going to work good and we'll go OK. Now, the next thing we're going to do is we're going to create a half tone.
Now, the reason why I'm doing this in Photoshop is 'cause all the plugins for half tones and methodologies for vector half tones, especially, they're all fake. They're giving you a mimic of a real half tone. The reason why I do it in Photoshop is it's going to give an authentic half tone. And I'll explain that as you see it. I should point out at this point I would save this file so I could always go back to it. So we're going to go image, mode, go to bitmap, we'll click OK, and then it's going to ask me, "Do you want your output 600?" Yes.
Now here's where it changes. Under method we want to pick half tone screen and then we'll click OK, another window comes up and it says, "Okay, what do you want your line screen to be?" It says frequency, but think line screen. For our line screen we want to do 20 line screen, 45 angle is fine, but the shape of the dots, we don't want diamonds, we want to have them round. And now I'm going to click OK. And you can see how cool this half tone is.
Now, when I say authentic half tone, it's not just mere circles. You see how it morphs into these shapes. And this is 600 DPI so this is showing it a lot bigger than it will actually ever be. And if I go command Z, because let's say I don't like that size of a dot, I can go back to where I started from and just redo the process again, a bitmap, click OK to flatten, select half tone, whatever output size. You could even go larger because you're blurring it so it doesn't really matter if you go to 800 DPI, for example, click OK here, set 20, 45 round.
In this case I think we want our frequency, let's see what 15 looks like. I think 20 might be good, but we'll check it out, we can always go back. That doesn't look bad, but you know what? I'm kind of picky, I want to go back and commit to the 20, I think that is going to work. So we'll just click through everything, we'll punch back in 20, go OK. I think this is going to work fine. Now, before I save out a file here, I want to go ahead and crop off all the white we don't need.
Like this. And the reason why I bring it in with such a big white space is because sometimes I'll gauge and blur it just to add a little more fuzz to the overall composition. I wasn't sure if I was going to do that or not. In this case I'm not so I'm going to go ahead and crop this. And now that it's cropped I'll go ahead and save as, we'll select the desktop and we want to go with TIF image here, bitmap TIF, that is.
And in this case we'll go half tone and we'll go save. And for this, whether you use PC or Mac, I'm using Mac, all the defaults are fine, we'll click OK. So now we've saved it to the desktop let's jump back to Illustrator and see how we can put this to use. So now we're back inside Illustrator and we're going to compose our layout now. So we'll go ahead and turn off this layer that we exported out our artwork to Photoshop, we'll go to this layer and I'm going to place our file.
So we'll go to the desktop and we'll find our HT type and we're going to place it right here. You can see how cool that looks. I'm going to select the background here and I'm going to go ahead and colorize our background. Then I'm going to take this type and I'm going to colorize our type like this. Let's go ahead and zoom in so you can see what's going on. You can see how nice that's looking in terms of the aesthetic. Now we're going to go back to the layer underneath it, I want to grab this type and just copy it.
And then go back to our layer we're composing, paste this type, and on this one I can go to the appearance panel, get rid of the effect, I don't need that anymore. Convert this type to paths. We'll unite these letter forms together and now that I've done that I'm going to change this to an outline and no fill. And on this one give the stroke a little beefiness.
We'll go two and then I'm going to take this and just kind of compose it over the top of this half tone and you can see how cool-- I think this is a little thick. Let's go 1.5. And I think that looks really cool. So that is the style you can pull off pretty easily. Let me show you this methodology in context of a design and how it can be used. And first we need art for our design so, once again, it all starts off with a sketch.
This specifically is a crazy train here. So this little character here, I built all my base art. And once again, if you think in shapes, It can make vector building a lot easier. So I can select this smoke here, unite them all together. Take this shape and simply select the smoke shape and trim it off with pathfinder like that. I can do the same methodology with this circle, with this shape for the teeth in order to form the final teeth.
Take these two shapes that make up the eyebrow here and trim those off. We can deselect the one we don't want and delete it. And then the same for here. Ungroup and then delete the elements we don't want. And then the same principle can work here where we select this shape, the shape underneath and we go ahead and minus from front to get the final art we need. So that's how easy it is to compose your final artwork.
This is the base artwork for this specific design and this is the specific design using the half tone type in context. Now, both of the fonts that are included in the exercise files with this specific movie include two type faces that I created. One is the one I used for crazy train called Beat Street, I created that back in the mid-90's. And the other one's called Nincumpoop. It's the one down below that says one track mind, full steam ahead. And that one I created a few years ago for my friend in Portland to sell through his shop.
But I'm giving it to everybody watching this course for free. So make sure to grab that. So it's not hard to use this methodology. Now, on this specific design, I wanted to match the aesthetic of the half tone type so, once again, I'm going to turn to textures. And this is simple a half tone texture that I've placed in here. I'm going to color it that same color as the background, like this, and then I'm going to take this mask vector shape of the train, use it as a mask, and I'm going to mask my artwork.
To mask you go to object, clipping mask, and make. I have F1 so I can just select both and hit F1 and that will mask that texture which now the artwork itself kind of aesthetically goes with the half tone type and I think it's working really good. And, of course, this is going to be a T-shirt design. So this methodology of using half tone type could be used for any type of project and it's a fun one to play with. So just because a method may be old, this one I developed 25 plus years ago, it's still now just as good as it ever was.
And it's authentic, meaning it looks like a real half tone because it is a real half tone, it's not mimicking it. And I encourage you to try this half tone method on your projects and see how it works for you. Thank you for watching DVG Lab. Until next time, remember as always, and don't forget, never stop drawing.
Skill Level Intermediate
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