How To Create Photoshop Halftone Effect (18-Step Tutorial)

February 01, 2023

In this step-by-step tutorial, we'll show you how to create the halftone pattern with and make your first halftone effect in Photoshop.

Is there another vintage graphics that would be as trendy and influential as the classic halftone pattern? Decades ago, such a dotted image was due to the specific printing technique. But today, we can create a halftone effect or pattern just as we like it!

You don't have to be a pro artist with advanced drawing skills to make halftone effects. In fact, the process of creating one is intuitive: it only demands the basic knowledge of Adobe Photoshop and a proper image that would look work well for all your halftone experiments. Of course, such effects are super popular, and you can get them for free (check for some at Pixelbuddha). But there's always a situation where none of yours work, and you need a specific halftone texture that repeats color printing in a certain way. That's when the skill of making custom halftones will come in handy!

Video Tutorial

Here are the assets you will need to complete the lesson and create a halftone effect of your own:

What is Halftone?

Halftone is a graphic design and printing technique used to reproduce an image using a dot pattern overlay with one or more colors. Today halftone is used to repeat a gradient or shaded effect with a limited number of tones. Black and white halftone dots are a traditional solution. However, color variations are allowed.

Initially, the halftone texture was due to the limitations of print media, and there was even a struggle against the tiny dots all over the image. Today, it's the contrary: the halftone pattern is a popular retro style made to create the 40s-50s print effect. It's also used to add an underground vibe, which is possible thanks to the colored dot styles or alternative patterns (stripes,squares, or diamonds).

In this step-by-step tutorial, I'll show you how to achieve the same effect with your graphics and create your first halftone effect in Photoshop — which is surprisingly simple and relaxing.

How to Create Photoshop Halftone Effect

Step 1 – Create a new document with the size set to 200 by 200 px.
Step 2 — Now, we should make an ellipse shape in the center of the document. Let’s set the size to 110 px.
Step 3 – After that, make four copies of this shape using the Control-J keys combination and move them to the corners of the document, just like you can see on the screen:
Step 4 – Select all the shapes while holding Shift in the layers panel and then Right Click > Convert to Smart Object.
Step 5 – Now go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the Amount to about 15%.
Step 6 – Click Edit > Define Pattern, and the halftone pattern is ready to use!
Step 7 – Let’s open the first photo and add a Black and White Filter using Alt-Control-Shift-B keys combination.
Step 8 – Create a New Pattern Fill layer and set the scale to about 10%.
Step 9 – To apply the halftone dot effect, change the Blending Mode to Hard Mix.
Step 10 – If you want to change how this halftone pattern affects your image, try to change the Fill setting in the Layers Panel. Let’s reduce it to 50%.
Take a closer look at how the image will look with different fill settings. The size of the halftone dots decides, so don't hesitate to play with it a little more. That's how you can transform a regular pic into a piece of digital art!
Step 11 — Now let’s apply the halftone pattern to another image with the Fill setting set to 90%.
Step 12 — Another way to change the final look of your image is to use the Levels Adjustment Layer. Let’s adjust the white level and create a whole new halftone pattern.
Step 13 — Then apply the pattern to our second image. As you can see this halftone pattern works much better. You can use this method to adjust all your patterns to fit any of your images.
This is how the image will look with different patterns applied:
Step 14 — What I really like about this method of creating halftone images, is that you can use any shape you want. Let’s create a new pattern, but this time we’ll use two Rectangle Shapes.
Step 15 — Now add a Gaussian Blur effect.
Step 16Define a New Pattern.
Step 17 — Let’s apply the new halftone pattern to our third image with the Scale set to 15.
Step 18 — You always can easily set a different the angle of your halftone pattern. Let’s change it to 45. That's how you'll switch from circular dots to a different shape for your halftone.
That's how it will look. Creativity is the key, so as you adjust the angle, you can obtain a halftone image that's 100% unique!

Let’s sum it up! We can easily make a halftone effect in Photoshop with a classic dot pattern using any shape. So don’t hesitate to try some non-standard motifs like hearts. They will work as well. And remember, you can also make a color halftone effect — for example, something acid or neon!

To adjust the pattern to fit the image, you can change the Fill Setting, Angle, and Scale, use the Levels Adjustment Layer or try a different amount of Gaussian Blur Filter.

If you want to apply various halftone effects to your images, I highly recommend you to try Classic Halftone Photo Effects! This professional constructor contains 3 PSD files, 10 carefully created and easy-to-use halftone patterns (dots, squares, triangles, stripes, and zigzags) and 30 beautiful duotone gradients. And you can access and toggle them via Smart Objects in Adobe Photoshop!

This product is a great idea to complete your retro or vintage design projects and make them look authentic. Posters, prints on fabric, banners, or anything else — these halftone effects are an unbeatable, proven method to bring your graphic work to the top.

Classic Halftone Photo Effects

Welcome a new set of grunge tools, tested out on various images so as to provide you with the flawless product you could lay your eyes on!

Acid Halftone Photo Effect

One magic click and the photography is transferred back into the 80s when screaming colors were all the rage!

Halftone Effects Collection

All 20 gradients are already embedded in 6 PSD files. Combining them with 2 dots size scales from the pack would bear plentiful creative combinations!

Delusio Halftone Photoshop Effect

Create emotionally resonant images with retro photo effects, made of 20 halftone patterns and 50 gradient textures.

written by

Ivan Gromov

Ivan is a Photoshop tutor and stock graphic designer who loves to create textures, templates, and all kinds of effects and tools for Adobe Photoshop. Be sure to check all his exclusive tutorials for Pixelbuddha!

Join Plus Today

Plus Summer Sale!

Summer's as hot as thousands of Plus items with 50% off. Join the membership with a promo code Summer50 and feel the vacation vibe!

Join Plus Today