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How To Create A Cool Halftone Effect With Text & Images In Photoshop

Jennifer Farley

Halftone-Thumb Halftone effects can bring a nice tactile effect to a web graphics, giving the impression of printed work. I’m going to show you how to create this effect in Photoshop using the Bitmap Image Mode.

1. Create a new Photoshop document with a white background, width 600 x 200 pixels. Select the Type tool (T) and add some text to the document. I’ve used a font called Blackoak Std but any big, fat, bold typefaces work really well when creating this effect.


2. We need to blur so that it looks like more of a blob than readable text. Choose Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Set the Radius to about 10 pixels or until your text looks something like this:


I’d like the effect to be a little darker so, duplicate the layer by pressing Ctrl + J (win) or Cmd + J (mac). It should look a bit like this.


3. We’re going to change from RGB mode to Bitmap mode, but we can’t go there in one step. We need to change firstly to Grayscale mode. To do this choose Image > Mode > Grayscale. You’ll see the following message.


Click Flatten. You’ll probably get another message about Discarding Color Information, click Discard.

4. Now choose Image > Mode > Bitmap. On the Bitmap dialog box leave the output at 72 for web graphics and choose Halftone Screen from the Use dropdown box.


Click OK.

5. On the next dialog box that opens you set up how your halftone dots will look. There’s a bit of trial and error here, so you might like to play around with the numbers. The higher the frequency, the more dots will appear. I kept the number fairly low here at 15. You can also choose the angle of the halftone screen and the shape of the dots.


When you click OK, the former blurry blob turns into a halftone blob, like this.


6. So that’s the effect created. Although it looks reasonably cool on its own I still want to include some readable text with it. To add more text we’ll get back to RGB mode. First choose Image > Mode > Grayscale, then choose Image > Mode > RGB.

7. Now we’re back in RGB mode, select the Type tool again and with the same settings as before type in the same text in black. Reduce the opacity of the text to about 50-60% and voila!


Working With Images

The process is EXACTLY the same if you want to create this effect with an image. Here’s a world map I created using the same steps as outlined above.


The only step I took here that was different was in the final stage. When I put the duplicate map of the world on top of my blurred halftone image, I set the blending mode to Multiply so that the original red color of the map can be seen in some of the dots.

So that’s how to create halftone images. I love the dirty, retro look that this effect can bring to a design. What do you think? Is is it an effect you’ve used or would be interested in using?