Photoshop Tutorial: Guide to Halftone Pattern

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.

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.

See also