Halftone Screen Gradient
A halftone screen is a conversion of a regular cartoon (or any image) into tiny solid dots. Each dot is only one of four colors (cyan, magenta, yellow or black), yet when you look at the cartoon from a distance, it seems as if there are all sorts of colors and shades present. Why? Because, for example, if a yellow and blue dot are printed very close together, they look like a single green dot when looked at from a distance. Similarly, black dots packed closer together look like dark gray from a distance, whereas black dots packed far apart look like light gray.
So what's the point of the halftone screen? Well, since all colors and shades can be emulated using only the four aforementioned colors, it is very practical for printing (since most printers have only those four inks).
In this cartoon tutorial, I'm going to focus on the halftone screen gradient, rather than the entire aspect of halftone. When the halftone screen is applied to a gradient, it produces a pretty nice result, which can be used in cartoons (as backgrounds) or as patterns on just about anything. However, you can apply this halftone screen tutorial to just about any graphic or cartoon, so you're not limited to just gradients.
Enough rambling, let's roll:
- Press D to set black as the foreground color and white as the background color. Press G to select the Gradient Tool.
- Click the bottom of the image and drag towards the top to make a gradient (black to white).
- Convert the image into Grayscale through Image > Mode > Grayscale. If prompted whether to discard color information, click "Yes."
- Convert the image into Bitmap through Image > Mode > Bitmap. A window will pop up; select "Halftone Screen" as the effect and click OK.
- Another window will pop up, allowing you to choose the size of the halftone "dots," their direction, and their shape. Select the options as pictured below:
- "Frequency" is the amount of rows of dots per inch. The lower this number, the larger the dots will be. The "Angle" is the angle of the rows. The "Shape" is… well, you probably already guessed. Click OK.
- Press Ctrl+A to select the entire pattern.
- Go to Edit > Define Pattern… to save the selection as a pattern. Name it "Halftone screen," or anything you wish.
- Open your cartoon or, in this case, a flat color to add the effect to.
- I have a dark color on the bottom layer and a lighter color on the top layer. The top layer is what will be on the top half of the gradient. In the Layers window, click the small "Add Layer Mask" icon (3rd from left).
- Click on the layer mask to select it, and press Shift+Backspace to open the Fill window.
- Select "Pattern," and then choose the halftone screen pattern that we saved a couple of steps ago. Keep "Normal" for Mode and "100%" for Opacity. Press OK.
So we got the halftone screen pattern we wanted, but we still have to apply it to our cartoon or image.
And there's your nice halftone screen gradient. I like to use it as a background pattern, since it's a nice alternative to boring solid-colored backgrounds that are often found in cartoons. Experiment with this effect and see where you can use it. It's a nice way to add a little something to a dull solid area.