Creating Halftone Effects in Illustrator

Every time I see a halftone used in a design I beg Mel to write a blog on how to create those halftones. I have finally found a clear, descriptive tutorial that is super easy from Vectips called “Creating Halftone Effects in Illustrator.” I never knew how easy this could be. Thanks Ryan for the great tutorials!

What is a halftone?

According to Ryan from Vectips, halftones simulate continuous tones with equally spaced dots of varying size. The eye blends these tiny dots into smooth tones. So anything that has a continuous tone can be simulated by a halftone.

Getting started

1. Create a shape with a gradient, blend or gradient mesh.

2. Go to Effects>Pixelate>Color Halftone. Change the Max Radius to 20 and keep the rest of the settings the same. If the dots in the halftones are too small or too big change the Max Radius by double clicking the Color Halftone effect in the Appearance Panel.

3. Expand the image. Object>Expand Appearance. With the image selected, the Control Panel defaults to the Live Trace option (very cool thing I never knew about). Click the Arrow Button beside the Live Trace button and select Tracing Options.

Mode: Color (select if your object contains color, hopefully you are using black and white)

Max Colors: Dependent on how many colors you used, if any.

Path Fitting: 1 px

Minimum Area: 1px

Corner Angle: 1

Ignore White: Check this box.

I saved these settings as a preset in the Tracing Options so I can easily go back and repeat the previous steps.

4. Expand. Press the Expand button on the Control Panel and now your image is vector.


Halftone from Photos

I knew how to apply a halftone to a photo in Photoshop but I never knew you could apply a halftone in Illustrator! This is great.

1. Place and Embed your image in Illustrator.

2. Click Edit>Edit Colors>Convert to Grayscale.

3. Apply the same settings as before (if you don’t like the size of your dots you can change the Max Radius)

4. Change colors accordingly.


I think I prefer doing my halftones in photoshop (you have a little more control of the dot size and contrast, but it’s great to know I can create them in both programs)

Halftone Swatcheshalftonestock

There are some stock halftone options in illustrator. They’re not as versitile as the techniques above but are worth checking out.  To open the swatches, click on the pop-up menu in the Swatch Panel. Then go to Open Swatch Library>Patterns>Basic Graphics>Basic Graphics Dots. The last 5 swatches are the halftone swatches. To read the full article read here.


3 thoughts on “Creating Halftone Effects in Illustrator

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s