Guide to Halftone Pattern

The Basics | August 4th, 2008

This tutorial will go through the different steps and settings to achieve a halftone pattern.

I’ll start off with the basics:

The filter in Photoshop called ‘Color Halftone’ can be useful in many different ways. If you want to achieve a

STEP 1: Open a new document in Photoshop

Background contents: White or transparent, Size: 640×480

STEP 2: Create a new layer

Select the brush tool, and choose the default circle brush. Size: 150px, Hardness: 100%. Then simply brush a dot in the center of the canvas on the new layer.

STEP 3: Load selection of the dot

Do this by holding Shift while clicking on the square of the layer in the layers window. Another way to do this is to go to Select>Load Selection> click OK. Once you’ve done that, invert the selection by clicking ctrl+shift+i OR Select>Inverse. You should see the whole area around the dot selected.

Now create a new Layer.

STEP 4: Enter Quickmask

After creating the new layer, simply click Q on your keyboard to enter quickmask. The circle should appear to be red. Now go to Filter>Pixelate>Color Halftone and use the following settings:

Now exit the Quick Mask by clicking Q once again, and inverse the selection by clicking ctrl+shift+i

STEP 5: Fill your pattern

Go to Edit>Fill or simply click shift+F5 and choose a color, then press OK. Now delete or hide the layer with the large dot.


This method might be easier and quicker for some. Instead of creating a shape, selecting it, and eventually deleting it, you could just create a new layer and select the Marquee tool to make that selection.


Now that you understand how to do this, let me show you how to play around with it. Your results depend on a few factors. Let me discuss them:

Hardness of Brush:

The softer your brush is, the farther out the pattern will go and the less cluttered the circles will be. For example:

If you use the Marquee tool: You can vary the hardness of the edge of the shape by playing around with the Feather px option (found in the top bar). When the Feather is at 0 px, your shape will be solid, when you increase the feather the edges will become more and more soft (blurry).

Max Radius (in Color Halftone settings):

The smaller the Max Radius is, the smaller the circles will be and the more they will be. For example:

Another factor that will affect the result is the Screen Angle in the settings. For this type of pattern only Channel 1 is important, this will determine the degrees of rotation for the pattern.


Now let me show you some variations of the original result which you can achieve easily.

Halftone with holes:

After completing the halftone pattern, load selection of the layer by holding shift while clicking on the square of the layer in the layers window. Once you see that animated outline around your pattern select the Marquee tool (found in the top left of your tools window). Now drag the outline to any direction (left, right, up down, or diagonal) but hold shift while doing so to keep the selection steady. Drag it in a way that the smaller circles of the selection are in the middle of the circles of the shape. Then click delete. I know that it’s a little confusing just reading it, so here I illustrate what I did.

You can go back and forth with how much of the shape you want shown.

Using on Gradients:

Using this effect on gradients also provides a cool result. This can be very helpful with Web design to make the background more interesting. To do this, in a new document create a new layer. Select the gradient tool and make sure you are using the Reflected Gradient and a Foreground to Transparent gradient (or any color to transparent).

Then make a gradient from the top of the until around the center. Now proceed to make a halftone pattern: Load selection of the gradient layer, select inverse (ctrl+shift+i), create a new layer, click Q, Filter>Pixelate>Color Halftone, click Q again, select inverse again (ctrl+shift+i), fill (shift+F5), then finally get rid of the original gradient layer. If you followed these steps correctly, you should get something like this:

If you are confused, read the basic steps in the beginning of the post.


Note: In the future if you want to avoid going through the various steps to add a halftone pattern to your design, check out the Halftone Pattern Brush Set.

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23 Comments to “Guide to Halftone Pattern”

  • Martín | August 14th, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    Simple but great. Almost for me, because i didnt know how to do this.

  • Briana | August 15th, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    Wow, turns out great! I actually have a brush of this though. Good to know who they made it :)

  • Chris C | September 18th, 2008 at 7:57 am

    Awesome tut, thanks!

  • Samuel | December 9th, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    Yeah men I like it!

  • Andri | February 4th, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    waaahhh.. thanks.. it so help for me.. 😀

  • Mitch | June 17th, 2009 at 2:07 am

    Been searching for that for ages! Thanks Brian

  • Required | June 9th, 2010 at 3:53 am

    very well explained and very useful, thanks a lot !

  • Jenn W | June 24th, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    great tut, but you don’t have to invert and re-invert the selections. Just leave the selection the way it is, then fill, it’ll be fine. Thanks for this, I couldn’t remember how I’d done it last time, and this reminded me!

  • web design | February 15th, 2011 at 11:11 am

    great steps sharing..thanks a lot…

  • S. Bala | May 6th, 2011 at 12:14 am

    really amazing…….thanx alot……

  • Utkarsh | May 19th, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Thanks a ton, bro!

  • Rebe | June 3rd, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    its pretty cool, and very well explaned but…
    Think you could a version of this or similar for photoshop elements 8?

  • gimmy | July 20th, 2011 at 9:54 am

    great………….. thanx a lot……

  • Joshua Patterson | November 16th, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    Nice tutorial. Hilarious timing, I just had to refresh myself on how to do this yesterday. I will always love halftone, for screen printing AND as a design element. Thanks for the informative blogs, I love them.

  • Allen | March 14th, 2012 at 4:37 am

    Wow thanks a lot! Really cool! I’ve been trying to find this Photoshop effect for so long! 😀

  • prachi | August 8th, 2012 at 7:05 am

    thanks aloooot for this wnderful n easy tut.was rlly searchin it since loooong………..thanx allot……..:)

  • prachi | August 8th, 2012 at 7:07 am

    can u pllzzz suggest me some other effects n designs for the print purpose n print media…….

  • psd2htmlpros | September 3rd, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Great tutorial and well written. This is exactly what we were looking for.

  • Meg | October 11th, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    This is an awesome tutorial. ThanKSSS so much

  • ululf01 | February 19th, 2013 at 1:20 am

    Really nice results! Great tutorial man.

  • web designer malaysia | September 12th, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    Painless guide to create halftone in 10minutes. Thanks!

  • classical string quartets | October 31st, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    This website was… how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something that helped me.
    Thank you!

  • Arn Sweatman | November 2nd, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    BRILLIANT!! Better than a trip to 7-11 with Jack Black!