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How to Make a Halftone Effect in Photoshop
  • By Kia Lor
  • 04 Mar 2022
  • 11 Mins
  • Intermediate
  • Photoshop Tutorials

How to Make a Halftone Effect in Photoshop

Learn how to make a halftone effect in Photoshop and how to change the colors of the halftone effect

This tutorial will teach you how to create a halftone effect in Photoshop. We will go through two methods, both using filters in Photoshop. The first method uses the Halftone Pattern filter in the Filter Gallery, and the second method uses the Color Halftone filter.

How to Make a Halftone Effect in Photoshop

Before we start making the halftone effects, open the image you would like to use in Photoshop. Make the image a Smart Object by right-clicking on the image layer and selecting Convert to Smart Object.

Convert image layer to a Smart Object

We chose to use a photo of a woman in a garden, but you can create a halftone effect with any image, such as one from this list of adventure photos.

Halftone Pattern Filter

Step 1 - Select Foreground and Background Colors

The Halftone Pattern filter uses the current Foreground and Background colors when making a halftone effect. Click on the Foreground color icon near the bottom of the left toolbar and select a color. Then click on the Background color icon and select a color.

Select a Foreground and Background color

Step 2 - Apply a Halftone Pattern Filter

Go to Filter > Filter Gallery.

Click on Filter, then Filter Gallery

Open the Sketch folder and select Halftone Pattern. Make sure Pattern Type is set to Dots. Using the preview image on the left, adjust the Size and Contrast to your liking. You can use the zoom buttons at the bottom left if needed. Click OK when you’re happy with how the preview looks.

Select Halftone Pattern in the Sketch folder with Pattern Type Dot and adjust settings

Step 3 - Edit Applied Halftone Pattern if Needed

If you want to change the applied Halftone Pattern filter, you can still make adjustments because the image is a Smart Object. Simply double-click on Filter Gallery under Smart Filters in the Layers panel. Then make any changes and click OK again.

Halftone Pattern has been applied. Double-click on Filter Gallery in Layers panel to adjust filter

Color Halftone Filter

Step 1 - Select Color Halftone Filter

Go to Filter > Pixelate > Color Halftone.

Click on Filter, Pixelate, then Color Halftone

Step 2 - Enter Color Halftone Settings

Max. Radius will affect the size of a halftone dot. The dots can only be as large as or smaller than the value you enter. Max Radius can be between 4 and 127.

The Screen Angle for each channel affects the angle at which the dots are placed. The channels correspond to the following colors: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.

We entered the following values and clicked OK to apply the filter.

  • Max Radius: 20
  • Channel 1: 15
  • Channel 2: 75
  • Channel 3: 0
  • Channel 4: 45

Max Radius set to 20. Channel 1 set to 15, 2 set to 75, 3 set to 0, and 4 set to 45

Below is what our image looks like with the values above.

Image is of the Color Halftone applied to the photo with the values above

Take a look at the image below to get an idea of what the dots look like with the values we entered.

Zoomed in image of what the Color Halftone filter looks like

Step 3 - Modify Color Halftone Settings Again if Needed

Like with the Halftone Pattern filter from earlier in this tutorial, you can go back in and change the filter settings if you don’t like the results. Double-click on Color Halftone under Smart Filters in the Layers panel. Then edit the values and click OK. We entered 30 for the Max Radius and 45 for all the Screen Angles this time around.

Max Radius set to 30 and all the Channels set to 45

Below is what the image looks like with the new values.

Image is of the Color Halftone applied to the photo with the new values

If we zoom in, the dots look like the image below.

Zoomed in image of what the Color Halftone filter looks like with the new values

Change the Halftone Effect Colors

By Changing the Filter’s Blending Options

Double-click on the Blending Options icon to the right of the filter in the Layers panel. The following image shows that this option is available for both filters used in this tutorial.

Image shows the Blending Options icon for both Filter Gallery filter and Color Halftone filter

The Blending Options dialog will open where you can change the Mode and Opacity. Mark the Preview checkbox to see a live preview of the changes. Click OK to apply the Blending Options to the image. We went with Screen for the Mode and set Opacity at 88%.

Change Mode and Opacity in the Blending Options dialog with Preview enabled in Photoshop

With Gradient Maps

You can completely change the colors of the halftone effect by applying a Gradient Map. Click on the New Adjustment Layer button at the bottom of the Layers panel and select Gradient Map. The Gradient Map will be created using the current Foreground and Background colors.

Add a new Gradient Map Adjustment Layer that uses the Foreground and Background colors

If your Properties panel is not open, you can get to it by going to Window > Properties. Select the Gradient Map layer, then the Gradient Map icon in the Properties panel. Then click on the gradient bar to open the Gradient Editor dialog.

Select Gradient Map icon and then click the gradient bar

In the Gradient Editor dialog, you can add or remove colors on the gradient bar or select a preset from above. Colors towards the left end will affect the shadows, colors in the middle will affect midtones, and colors on the right end will affect the highlights. Play around with the colors, then click OK.

Add and remove colors from the gradient bar in the Gradient Editor dialog

Below is what our image looks like with the Gradient Map we created. You can always change the Gradient Map by clicking the gradient bar in the Properties panel.

New Gradient Map has been applied to the image

To take it another step, you can also change the Blending Mode of the Gradient Map layer. Select the Gradient Map layer and test out the different Blending Mode options at the top of the Layers panel. We settled on Multiply for the image below.

Select a different Blending Mode for the Gradient Map Adjustment Layer in Photoshop

Now you know how to make a halftone effect in Photoshop and will be able to create some really cool images. Try the two methods you learned today with the different color-changing techniques to see which fits your needs.

If you’d like to learn about other awesome things you can do with photos in Photoshop, take a look at our tutorials on changing an image from day to night and turning a photo into an 8-bit image.

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