WootBot


quality posts: 14 Private Messages WootBot

Staff

Don’t go any further.

You heard us. Stop reading right now.

“But I want to learn all about halftones!” you whine. “They’re just dots and lines and all my friends are doing them.”

We were all that naïve once. Little shirt designing Pandoras and Oppenheimers, playing with a shiny new toy we didn’t fully understand. And then BOOM! A shirt spewed forth from the Tenth Circle of Velvet Painting Hell! If we’d only known…

Still here? OK, then let’s do this thing. But consider yourself warned: halftones should be used responsibly. A little goes a very long way.

Halftone Dots in Photoshop – The Quick and Easy Method

1. Create a new layer as shown below in fig1.1. Use the Paint Bucket Tool to fill it with the color you want your halftones to be. I’ve used Pantone 2925C and labeled it accordingly. At the bottom of the layer window click the button called Add Layer Mask...



fig1.1

2. You’ve just created a mask for your layer. It’ll automatically be selected once created. The mask operates using a grayscale. White makes your layer completely visible, black completely transparent. Grays are all of the in-betweens. Use the paint bucket tool to fill in the mask with black. Your layer will now disappear as shown in fig1.2.



fig1.2

3. Draw what you want this layer to look like, using soft brushes or gradient fills as shown in fig1.3. You’re using white and grays on the layer mask, not color (if you see the color in your tools swatch instead of white or black you have the layer selected and not the mask).



fig1.3

4. Once you’re done drawing, go to Filter>Pixelate>Color Halftones as shown in fig1.3 above. Adjust your Max Radius and Channel 1, which controls the primary angle on your halftones. Press OK. There you go, halftones!



fig1.4

Tip: Note that Max Radius is the maximum size your dots will be, not the minimum. In other words you could set Max Radius to a high number, but if your layer has only a 1% visibility, the dots will still be too small to print. This is why we don’t provide a minimum setting here. A good rule of thumb is to avoid a lot of dots made up of only one or two pixels as the files will be scaled down in order to print women and kid’s sizes, sometimes by up to 50%. That’s right, the file size you’re submitting is for the men’s shirts only. We have to scale it down for women’s and kids sizes which means micro-details like one pixel halftones will be lost forever. Keep that in mind when applying your halftones.

Tip: Avoid 90 degree angles as they can produce a moiré pattern (weird grid patterns). Use an angle like 105 or 45. If the angle you try doesn’t work, try a few more until you get the desired results.

Halftone Dots and Lines in Photoshop – The Cool and Flexible Way (shared with us via the great patrickspens)

1. Draw your design on a new layer using gradients and soft edges as shown in fig2.1. Make sure you’re only doing one color per layer.



fig2.1

2. Select all of the art on the layer using the marquee tool. CTRL-C to copy to the clipboard.

3. Create a new file. The dimensions should automatically be set to the dimensions of the art you copied. Set the color mode to grayscale and press OK as shown in fig2.2 and press OK.



fig2.2

4. CTRL-V to post your layer into the new file as shown in fig2.3.

     4b. from patrickspens: You need to make your layer black before proceeding to step 5! The halftone conversion uses value (light to dark) to determine the thickness of the halftones. If you have a solid (fully opaque) light gray circle, and a solid black circle next to each other you will see when converted that the halftones are thin on the gray circle and thick on the black. In a nutshell if you have a very light color, the halftones will be nearly invisible, regardless of how opaque the original paint was. Making the paint black will ensure that the transparency is converted correctly. (thanks Patrickspens! I suggest using a black color overlay on your layer and then collapsing it down.)



fig.2.3

5. Go to Image>Mode>Bitmap to covert the grayscale image to a bitmap. Click yes when prompted to flatten your file. If your original work is at 300dpi it should automatically be at that setting. Select Halftone Screen as shown in fig2.4 if it isn’t already and press OK.



fig.2.4

6. Enter your desired lines per inch (30 is recommended officially by Woot), the style of the halftones (lines, dots, etc), and the desired angle as shown in fig2.5.



fig2.5

7. You’ve now created your halftones. Use the Magic Wand tool with contiguous unselected to select all of the black halftones. Ctrl-C to copy and Ctrl-V to paste into your original art file as shown in fig2.6.



fig2.6

8. Position your new halftones over the original gradients and hide the original. With your new halftone layer selected go to the layer’s blending options and add a Color Overlay with the color of your choice as shown in fig2.7



fig2.7

Tip: As stated in the previous method, when you set the LPI you’re only setting the maximum, not the minimum. Even with a high LPI setting you could have a design that it mostly one pixel thick lines or dots. Your main goal should be to ensure that as little of the design as possible will disappear when scaled down.

Tip: Using Color Overlay on a layer is a great way to make sure each layer has its own unique color. Even if you accidentally have a different color selected before drawing, it will automatically make it the color you wanted for that layer. Once you’re satisfied your layer is done, create a new layer above it, select both, and Ctrl-E to collapse them together.

There you have it, two easy ways to make all of your halftone nightmares dreams come true. Next time we’ll cover Illustrator and some of the available halftone plug-ins.

lucky1988


quality posts: 20 Private Messages lucky1988

awesome info and tutorial!

BaldBob007


quality posts: 1 Private Messages BaldBob007

This is great stuff! I know some of us lesser artists think we need to use halftones to compete; but that ends up flooding the derbies with some awful looking designs. I actually prefer little to none, even in some designs by the more famous artists. ;)

AdderXYU


quality posts: 38 Private Messages AdderXYU

I'm not going to lie, I smiled at this title, because it's true. Most people use halftones like T-Pain uses vocodor: egregiously and uninformedly.

Now, you know what would be great, having now posted this blog, is if from now til woot shutters, there was a "no ugly halftones" rule. Not only could you save yourself from the fact that most voters are impressed by halftones the way they're impressed by a 5 year old playing Moonlight Sonata sloppily, but entire dynasties of sloppy and overused halftoning could be eliminated for the sake of better work.

I guess that's a pie-in-the-sky dreamworld.

kevlar51


quality posts: 45 Private Messages kevlar51

nice tips. and when in grayscale, I've found the dodge and burn tools to really help a lot in shaping the gradient that will become the halftones.

taternuggets


quality posts: 22 Private Messages taternuggets

Bless you for this.


Nothing follows.

omnitarian


quality posts: 15 Private Messages omnitarian

For those of us with silly opensource propensities: Halftone plugin for paint.net:

http://forums.getpaint.net/index.php?/topic/11520-ed-harvey-effects-v336/

bellarific


quality posts: 0 Private Messages bellarific

I just get so frustrated when they don't look like I want them to. I guess it just takes a lot of practice to push them around in a way that makes them look... not slapped on.

DianaSprinkle


quality posts: 112 Private Messages DianaSprinkle

If you don't want hand position your halftones, which just thinking about is making me want to murder. All you have to is select the grey layer in the layer menu, right click the layer and choose "Duplicate Layer" then in the menu that pops up under "Document" choose "New".

It will make a new document the exact same size as the old document. Then when you are finished with your half tone magic you can easily select all(ctrl+A), copy everything(ctrl+C), and return to the original file to paste it(ctrl+V) back directly over where it was originally. Then select all the white and delete to leave beautiful perfectly placed halftones. No fiddling and lining up required. =D

tgentry


quality posts: 111 Private Messages tgentry

Staff

DianaSprinkle wrote:If you don't want hand position your halftones, which just thinking about is making me want to murder. All you have to is select the grey layer in the layer menu, right click the layer and choose "Duplicate Layer" then in the menu that pops up under "Document" choose "New".

It will make a new document the exact same size as the old document. Then when you are finished with your half tone magic you can easily select all(ctrl+A), copy everything(ctrl+C), and return to the original file to paste it(ctrl+V) back directly over where it was originally. Then select all the white and delete to leave beautiful perfectly placed halftones. No fiddling and lining up required. =D



QP! Thanks Diana!

Lish64


quality posts: 1 Private Messages Lish64

I've yet to try a shirt design in Photoshop, but I might have to give it a try sometime. This is definitely going to be bookmarked for future reference!

mrwednesday


quality posts: 12 Private Messages mrwednesday

The use of the opening to Choke really offends me. It's not even ironic it's just wrong.

paigeg


quality posts: 7 Private Messages paigeg

Thanks tons, Travis! This helps my understanding quite a bit. Yes, I know, halftones are probably the bane of Man. But sometimes you just gotta have more colors. For example, my (inept) sub this week: I'd used all six colors, but absolutely had to have a flesh tone or my senorita would have looked like a ghost. I may not have done it well, but I think I at least did it appropriately.

tgentry


quality posts: 111 Private Messages tgentry

Staff

mrwednesday wrote:The use of the opening to Choke really offends me. It's not even ironic it's just wrong.



Choke?... Haven't read it.

brockart


quality posts: 7 Private Messages brockart

For extra credit, can you show the Illustrator tutorial for halftones?

elviswind


quality posts: 1 Private Messages elviswind

I'm not an artist, but it's interesting to look at the technical process . . . . now you just need to follow-up and include a "no halftones" rule in the next few derbies. :P

j5


quality posts: 63 Private Messages j5

Not sure what Choke is, or why it would be offensive, but the opening is all Oppenheimer(yes, I AM Captain Obvious, thanks for noticing):

J. Robert Oppenheimer, Trinity 1945 wrote:We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed... A few people cried... Most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture the Bhagavad Gita; Vishnu is trying to persuade the prince that he should do his duty, and to impress him takes on his multi-armed form, and says, "Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds." I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.



Maybe a Spiderman quote would be less offensive?
"With great halftone power, there must come great halftone responsibility"

move along

mrwednesday


quality posts: 12 Private Messages mrwednesday
tgentry wrote:Choke?... Haven't read it.



You should then. It's a great book!

paigeg


quality posts: 7 Private Messages paigeg

"If you're going to read this, don't bother"


I haven't read it either, but the plot summary sounded pretty intriguing.

amreli


quality posts: 8 Private Messages amreli
DianaSprinkle wrote:If you don't want hand position your halftones, which just thinking about is making me want to murder. All you have to is select the grey layer in the layer menu, right click the layer and choose "Duplicate Layer" then in the menu that pops up under "Document" choose "New".

It will make a new document the exact same size as the old document. Then when you are finished with your half tone magic you can easily select all(ctrl+A), copy everything(ctrl+C), and return to the original file to paste it(ctrl+V) back directly over where it was originally. Then select all the white and delete to leave beautiful perfectly placed halftones. No fiddling and lining up required. =D



Alternately, you can delete the white in the "new" document and then "duplicate layer" back to your working document to get things in the right place. Both methods are essentially the same, don't know if one is inherently easier or faster than the other.


patrickspens


quality posts: 8 Private Messages patrickspens

!!! There was an important step missed in the method I use !!!

When you paste your paint into your gray-scale file, step 4, you need to make your layer black before proceeding to step 5! The halftone conversion uses value (light to dark) to determine the thickness of the halftones. If you have a solid (fully opaque) light gray circle, and a solid black circle next to each other you will see when converted that the halftones are thin on the gray circle and thick on the black. In a nutshell if you have a very light color, the halftones will be nearly invisible, regardless of how opaque the original paint was. Making the paint black will ensure that the transparency is converted correctly.

I hope this makes sense


here is a image showing the error created by solid a color of different values. they should all have the same halftones because they all have the same transparency, but the values mess it up.

tgentry


quality posts: 111 Private Messages tgentry

Staff

patrickspens wrote:!!! There was an important step missed in the method I use !!!



Aw crud! I knew I'd forget something. It may take a little while, but I'll see if I can get that corrected. Thanks!

patrickspens


quality posts: 8 Private Messages patrickspens
tgentry wrote:Aw crud! I knew I'd forget something. It may take a little while, but I'll see if I can get that corrected. Thanks!



no worries! it happens

justme476


quality posts: 0 Private Messages justme476
j5 wrote:Not sure what Choke is, or why it would be offensive, but the opening is all Oppenheimer(yes, I AM Captain Obvious, thanks for noticing):




nah, its Oppenheimer quoting the Bhagavad Gita, for what its worth

j5


quality posts: 63 Private Messages j5
justme476 wrote:nah, its Oppenheimer quoting the Bhagavad Gita, for what its worth



Yes, which is in the quote block....

move along

anishell


quality posts: 0 Private Messages anishell

Do we have to use "lines" for halftones? Personally, I like using the "round" halftones as mentioned on the second method.

Narfcake


quality posts: 284 Private Messages Narfcake
anishell wrote:Do we have to use "lines" for halftones? Personally, I like using the "round" halftones as mentioned on the second method.



No. Sometimes, lines work out better. Sometimes, dots work out better. It's all the artist's preference in which to incorporate into their design.

roofoo


quality posts: 0 Private Messages roofoo

Manga Studio has a HUGE tones library and is super simple to add halftones where you want them. I'm actually beginning to do all my illustration in MS, I think it blows Photoshop out of the water for illustrating.

bassanimation


quality posts: 98 Private Messages bassanimation
roofoo wrote:Manga Studio has a HUGE tones library and is super simple to add halftones where you want them. I'm actually beginning to do all my illustration in MS, I think it blows Photoshop out of the water for illustrating.



Ive also heard good things about MS. Id like to pick up a copy sometime and give it a whirl.

tgentry


quality posts: 111 Private Messages tgentry

Staff

bassanimation wrote:Ive also heard good things about MS. Id like to pick up a copy sometime and give it a whirl.



Likewise, I've heard it's good stuff, and not just from Manga artists.

bassanimation


quality posts: 98 Private Messages bassanimation

Another tool people might consider is Filter Forge. It is on sale right now for 60% off, til Friday I believe. I bought a copy for my house to give it a try. It has some very nice halftone and woodcut actions, as well as a gorgeous watercolor action.

roofoo


quality posts: 0 Private Messages roofoo
tgentry wrote:Likewise, I've heard it's good stuff, and not just from Manga artists.



Yes, and Smith Micro puts it on sale every once in a while. I got the EX version (normally $299) for $99 not too long ago!

JRSly


quality posts: 0 Private Messages JRSly

I'm just getting into t-shirt design and when looking into halftoning before, I wondered about the minimum dot size. I figured, "Surely, a single pixel can't be printed." Seems like it would make sense to be able to control that minimum size as well, does it not?

jimiyo


quality posts: 2 Private Messages jimiyo

Ah I remember the days when snippy wooters would complain that halftoning was somehow "cheating" and they would rail on artists for being unauthentic like it was easy to make good halftones... Times are a changin!

Josephus


quality posts: 25 Private Messages Josephus
jimiyo wrote:Ah I remember the days when snippy wooters would complain that halftoning was somehow "cheating" and they would rail on artists for being unauthentic like it was easy to make good halftones... Times are a changin!



I think that was back when woot was outlawing halftones. I know I got rejected one time for my background in my thumbnail being a gradient when it wasn't even a halftone, just a straight solid color. The rejector was having one of those 'absences' he sometimes has and saw something that wasn't there. unrejected it several hours later, but lost all my votes.

imsochady


quality posts: 25 Private Messages imsochady

Great tutorials! No wonder little dots have been running rampant in the Derby nowadays.

Lagbert


quality posts: 1 Private Messages Lagbert

I found a good tutorial on making custom halftones.

http://www.digitalartform.com/archives/2009/06/custom_halftone.html

If you are using a program other than Photoshop Hard Mix can be achieved by placing the gray scaled art on a layer above the halftone. Set the layer mode of the art to Addition. Merge the two layers. Use Threshold to convert the image to strictly black and white pixels.

Here's a sample of a custom 5 LPI Hex halftone I made using the tutorial linked above.


Other notes:

When using the layer mask method of creating halftones, you should invert the mask's colors before converting the layer mask to halftones. After you convert the mask to halftones invert the colors again. This will make sure your halftones are dots of color rather than holes to the color below.

rhochstrasser


quality posts: 1 Private Messages rhochstrasser
patrickspens wrote:!!! There was an important step missed in the method I use !!!



Thanks for pointing this out! Makes perfect sense. The purple squiggly line and gradient rectangle have areas of solid color but the created halftones in the tutorial lose the solid colors (the top of the gradient should be solid purple, but it's not).

What's the best method for changing the grays to blacks in the bitmap? Levels? Thanks!

tessderpervilles


quality posts: 0 Private Messages tessderpervilles

One thing I noticed; between steps 6 and 7, before you can use the magic wand tool you have to convert back to grayscale image mode. (at least on my version of PS7)

haxrox


quality posts: 10 Private Messages haxrox

For my fellow designers using the free, open-source Inkscape, here's the halftone tutorial.
Since Inkscape tends to hang with lots of shapes onscreen, I recommend NOT doing a union of the tiled clones, but rather taking a quick screenshot of them and then tracing the resulting bitmap into a path.

As a soapbox sidenote, if you're creating intellectual property that you want to sell (ie a shirt design), using pirated software is first-degree hypocrisy.