Smooooth Halftones?

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Hello again, helpful woot people.

I am seeing a lot of entries coughpatrickspenscough with really really smooth halftones. Like… I can barely tell that they are there but I guess they are 'cuz you’re supposed to show them.

I make halftones at 31 LPI (it is called LPI, right?) because woot said somewhere that’s the smallest they should be. I’ve tried both dots and lines. They still look grainy no matter what angle they’re at. I mean, they just look like halftones. They certainly don’t look seamlessly smooth.

How do you do that? Do you need to trace them in IL? If so, then how do you put them into PS?

Thaaaank youuus for reading my confused post.

Are you using lines then instead of dots?

I’ve tried using both lines and dots. Both look grainy to me. Maybe I’m not making the transparent colors the right way? I just brush and erase with different levels of transparency.
edit I think the secret lies in Illustrator somewhere…*

Maybe answering this will help… what do you mean by “grainy”? Do you mean that they look aliased?

They actually SHOULD look aliased when you generate the halftones because when it’s printed, the “aliased” look is technically what is being printed (since you can’t print half-transparent pixels). The “smoothness” from anti-aliasing comes when you resize the image for web display.

If “grainy” means something else, maybe you could take a screen capture to illustrate the problem?

The smallest they should be is 30LPI when your art file is 300DPI.

Most halftones will look quite subtle when they’re that fine, but two things can still make them look grainy in your shirtcomp image:

  1. If you’re using very contrasting colors, eg. bright white on dark gray

  2. If your design is quite small on the shirt, and so is shown big in your image

Hope that helps!

I always make sure there are no transparent pixels, so the halftones are aliased. I can post later what mine look like up close compared to what others’ look like in their up close images. It may just be the way I draw the transparent parts before I halftone them.

@spiritgreen: thanks for the advice there, it may just be the contrast or size. I can be really picky about my work.

edit I compared my halftones close-up to an artist who I know works in IL. The only difference was that mine had pixels; no shape difference or anything… mystery solved. I know it won’t look any different on the shirt, it just looks better in the preview. I think spiritgreen was right, it’s because of the contrast that the pixels stand out more. Maybe I could make just the halftones in IL? I dunno.

I only have Photoshop Elements, not the full version, so the halftone options are limited, so I’ve been doing any halftones in GIMP instead which I like a lot better. Overall, GIMP runs a lot slower, so I just export the halftone layers at the end. Probably not the most efficient process, but it works (and doesn’t require spending money). I haven’t tried halftones in Inkscape recently (open source version of Illustrator), my last computer didn’t have the processing power to handle it.

Inkscape is a great program, but using it for halftones is suicide unless your computer is top of the line. Each halftone dot will be treated as a circle object. This can lead to your file having 1000s of objects.

If you want to have more halftone options you can start making custom ones.

This tutorial gives you the basics:

Gimp doesn’t have hard blend, but you can create the same effect by doing the following:

  1. put your halftone pattern on a layer above your gradient filled grayscaled image
  2. set the halftone layer to additive
  3. merge down the halftone layer
  4. use threshold to convert the image to strictly black and white.

Here’s a sample of a custom 5 LPI Hex halftone I made using the tutorial linked above.

Ha ha, yeah, I gave up fairly quickly on Inkscape halftones and haven’t even bothered trying again with my new computer which is way better, but admittedly not top of the line.

Thanks for the link! I had come across that tutorial before, but I can’t remember if I couldn’t do it for some reason in Elements (maybe no hard blend?) or if I just forgot about it. :slight_smile: Some of the options that Elements doesn’t have aren’t just the shapes, but also sampling methods (or something, I’m at work and don’t have my own computer).

Yay! Thanks for the halftone tutorial. I used to use GIMP and Inkscape for months until I got Photoshop. Making gradients with the newsprint filter worked just fine, but I find that Photoshop gradients are a little better. They seem to better capture subtle changes in value.

GIMP and Inkscape don’t handle memory very well so even if you have a decent computer they will run painfully slow. My Wacom tablet was way too laggy with GIMP and I couldn’t even open the woot template without the program crashing. Photoshop handles memory much better… I can make GINORMOUS designs at high resolution. The one thing I still do in GIMP is remove transparent pixels from the edges of resized images…can’t find a way to do that in PS.