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Threadless Teetorials: Halftones


Teetorials are tips and tricks for adding those special touches to your designs. They're brought to you by our very own Threadless staff designers, Alex, Jillian & Speedy Joe. Check out Threadless designer Alex Solis' quick halftone teetorial.



  1. Start by creating a new layer on your artwork. Add the gradients and shadows that you want halftoned.


  2. Once you're satisfied with how it looks, select the new layer with gradients you created. Copy and Paste it into a new document.


  3. Go to image > mode to convert to grayscale. It will ask you to flattened the file. It's OK to do so at this time.


  4. Once that step is done, go to image > mode and select bitmap. Once it's bitmap, select halftone screen, and select the options you want. I usually try to keep it 300dpi and choose round for the bitmap shape.


  5. Once you have the halftone screen, turn it back to grayscale (image > grayscale)


  6. Duplicate a layer so it's not locked anymore. Then on the new layer click select > color range, and click on the white area. This will select everything that's white.


  7. Once it's selected, just hit delete to get rid of the white. Drag the layer with just the black halftone back to your artwork file.


  8. Align the layer so it fits where you did the gradient before, then do a color overlay, I usually try and select the same color as the main layer, and then make it slightly darker color.


If you have any trouble or have questions, just write in the comments below and I'll be happy to help!
- Alex

Watch this
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Manupix
2 designs submitted - Score now!

Great! Thanks guys!

Morkki said:

I'd like more in-depth technical info on what kind of halftones are good for the Threadless printers. What's the right angle to avoid moiré and what's the maximum lpi that can be printed with different inks/techniques.

Please!

opippi
opippi profile pic Alumni
1 design submitted -

Super sweet!!!

xtiffany

so, so beautiful.

YaaH
YaaH profile pic Alumni

Theo86
Theo86 profile pic Alumni

this is awesome!

hellofromthemoon
hellofromthemoon profile pic Alumni

So awesome, thanks for doing this!

fightstacy
fightstacy profile pic Alumni

Thanks doobs. Looking forward to more coolguy tips!

blackhand_
blackhand_ profile pic Alumni

Alex, for step 4, can you give more details about what settings you use for "Frequency" and "Angle"?

I've read that about 50-55 lines per inch is the finest screen size that can be used. I usually use 45 or lower to be on the safe side. And I've also read that using the default angle of 45° is discouraged because it could produce moire patterns.

I'm not sure what kind of voodoo is involved turning artists' designs into screen-printed shirts, but that's the kind of insight I would like.

soloyo
soloyo profile pic Alumni

You lost me at gradient and shadows ...

Wolfgang8885

You lost me at Start.

sms4joy

So awesome!

macdoodle
macdoodle profile pic Alumni
1 design submitted -
kuro_te said:

Alex, for step 4, can you give more details about what settings you use for "Frequency" and "Angle"?

I've read that about 50-55 lines per inch is the finest screen size that can be used. I usually use 45 or lower to be on the safe side. And I've also read that using the default angle of 45° is discouraged because it could produce moire patterns.

I'm not sure what kind of voodoo is involved turning artists' designs into screen-printed shirts, but that's the kind of insight I would like.

Thanks Paul. That's good to know. I've wondered what tha max is. I usually do between 60-70 dpi on a 20x20 design so I'd like to hear threadstaff chime in if possible.

speakerine
speakerine profile pic Alumni
1 design submitted -

cool!

alexmdc
alexmdc profile pic Staff
2 designs submitted - Score now!
kuro_te said:

Alex, for step 4, can you give more details about what settings you use for "Frequency" and "Angle"?

I've read that about 50-55 lines per inch is the finest screen size that can be used. I usually use 45 or lower to be on the safe side. And I've also read that using the default angle of 45° is discouraged because it could produce moire patterns.

I'm not sure what kind of voodoo is involved turning artists' designs into screen-printed shirts, but that's the kind of insight I would like.

I think just mess with it to your liking with that one, depending if you want smaller dots or bigger dots that pretty much it. The printers are pretty good now that they can print finer halftones.

alexmdc
alexmdc profile pic Staff
2 designs submitted - Score now!
soloyo said:

You lost me at gradient and shadows ...

well maybe you should open up photoshop and try to do a design by yourself from scratch without it being a collab, I'm sure you will learn and gain a lot from it :)

macdoodle
macdoodle profile pic Alumni
1 design submitted -

Thanks Alex! Very helpful info!

vectored_life

*Inserts joke about getting reproductive parts caught in climate control appliances due to complicated instructions

On a serious note, thanks for the toot.

merkinspurlock
merkinspurlock profile pic Alumni
theillustratorman said:

On a serious note, thanks for the toot.

littlem

neat!

Manupix
2 designs submitted - Score now!
redhandedjillian said:
theillustratorman said:

On a serious note, thanks for the toot.

Bwahaha!

nikoby
nikoby profile pic Alumni

Great tutorial! I have an addition to skip the aligning in step 8 (I find it useful to not have to realign the layer). After creating your gradient layer turn it into a smart layer and double click on the layer. Create the halftone and remove the background as usual, then save and close the smart layer. When back in your design simply rasterize that new smart layer and the halftone will be perfectly in place.

alexmdc
alexmdc profile pic Staff
2 designs submitted - Score now!
nikoby said:

Great tutorial! I have an addition to skip the aligning in step 8 (I find it useful to not have to realign the layer). After creating your gradient layer turn it into a smart layer and double click on the layer. Create the halftone and remove the background as usual, then save and close the smart layer. When back in your design simply rasterize that new smart layer and the halftone will be perfectly in place.

oh awesome dude! great suggestion! :D

vectored_life

Quick question: Can I take a gradient from Illustrator over to Photoshop, halftone it, then take it back to Illustrator?

Musarter
Musarter profile pic Alumni
nikoby said:

Great tutorial! I have an addition to skip the aligning in step 8 (I find it useful to not have to realign the layer). After creating your gradient layer turn it into a smart layer and double click on the layer. Create the halftone and remove the background as usual, then save and close the smart layer. When back in your design simply rasterize that new smart layer and the halftone will be perfectly in place.

Wow, never I knew. Thanks man.

And thank you, Alex, for the tutorial.

Musarter
Musarter profile pic Alumni
theillustratorman said:

Quick question: Can I take a gradient from Illustrator over to Photoshop, halftone it, then take it back to Illustrator?

Yes, but it is much easier to transfer your vector line work to Photoshop once you begin the shading process IMO and probably many others.'

alexmdc
alexmdc profile pic Staff
2 designs submitted - Score now!
Musarter said:
theillustratorman said:

Quick question: Can I take a gradient from Illustrator over to Photoshop, halftone it, then take it back to Illustrator?

Yes, but it is much easier to transfer your vector line work to Photoshop once you begin the shading process IMO and probably many others.'

Yeah like Musater said, you can do it and if you want to vectorize it probably have to live trace it, and can lose some of the details in the halftone.

You can also just halftone it in Illustrator, maybe I'll post one for Illustrator down the road

gebe
gebe profile pic Alumni

great blog! It can be very useful!

vectored_life
alexmdc said:
Musarter said:
theillustratorman said:

Quick question: Can I take a gradient from Illustrator over to Photoshop, halftone it, then take it back to Illustrator?

Yes, but it is much easier to transfer your vector line work to Photoshop once you begin the shading process IMO and probably many others.'

Yeah like Musater said, you can do it and if you want to vectorize it probably have to live trace it, and can lose some of the details in the halftone.

You can also just halftone it in Illustrator, maybe I'll post one for Illustrator down the road

That'd be awesome. I'm trying to get familiar with Photoshop but Illustrator is still my go to.

soloyo
soloyo profile pic Alumni
alexmdc said:
soloyo said:

You lost me at gradient and shadows ...

well maybe you should open up photoshop and try to do a design by yourself from scratch without it being a collab, I'm sure you will learn and gain a lot from it :)

Naah, how about a teetorial for Dummies blog?

soloyo
soloyo profile pic Alumni
soloyo said:
alexmdc said:
soloyo said:

You lost me at gradient and shadows ...

well maybe you should open up photoshop and try to do a design by yourself from scratch without it being a collab, I'm sure you will learn and gain a lot from it :)

Naah, how about a teetorial for Dummies blog?

unless you miss seeing some like this

thesimplyshit

YYYEEESSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!! FINALLYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THANKS!!!!!!

thesimplyshit

Thanks you my IDOL Alex!!! I like your style very much! Can I have your email? I wanted to ask you a secrets question since long time ago. Hope that you can help me. Thanks

thesimplyshit

Thanks you my IDOL Alex!!! I like your style very much! Can I have your email? I wanted to ask you a secrets question since long time ago. Hope that you can help me. Thanks

Gums.
Gums. profile pic Alumni

Thanks Alex ! How do you make a separate colors. Do you select the layer with halftone and delete this selection for all other layers (sorry for my bad english)

alexmdc
alexmdc profile pic Staff
2 designs submitted - Score now!
Gums. said:

Thanks Alex ! How do you make a separate colors. Do you select the layer with halftone and delete this selection for all other layers (sorry for my bad english)

Each color is in it's own layer, that way it's easier to change the colors afterwards. You seem to have a pretty good idea of colors form looking at your work, how do you manage each color right now?

I think I'll do a quick tutorial for the next one about color separation for the next one

alexmdc
alexmdc profile pic Staff
2 designs submitted - Score now!
thesimplyshit said:

Thanks you my IDOL Alex!!! I like your style very much! Can I have your email? I wanted to ask you a secrets question since long time ago. Hope that you can help me. Thanks

alexs@threadless.com

but it would be good for you to ask your secret question here, others might have the same if its about this tutorial

parallelish
parallelish profile pic Alumni

was checkin out your new breaking bad piece earlier and wondering how you do your halftones, then bam i see this... weirdcool 8)

Gums.
Gums. profile pic Alumni

I know how make color separation in illustrator. But how separate each colors (haftone or not) in photoshop for the printers. Teetorial :"colors separation " in photoshop, it would be great ! Thanks !

alexmdc
alexmdc profile pic Staff
2 designs submitted - Score now!
Gums. said:

I know how make color separation in illustrator. But how separate each colors (haftone or not) in photoshop for the printers. Teetorial :"colors separation " in photoshop, it would be great ! Thanks !

oh gotcha! yeah I can do a quick one about that

YaaH
YaaH profile pic Alumni
alexmdc said:
soloyo said:

You lost me at gradient and shadows ...

well maybe you should open up photoshop and try to do a design by yourself from scratch without it being a collab, I'm sure you will learn and gain a lot from it :)

I agree. I told you some years ago. It's much more fun, believe me, Nestor.

celandinestern
celandinestern profile pic Alumni

really cool tut!!! I am so looking forward to more of these.

thesimplyshit
alexmdc said:
thesimplyshit said:

Thanks you my IDOL Alex!!! I like your style very much! Can I have your email? I wanted to ask you a secrets question since long time ago. Hope that you can help me. Thanks

alexs@threadless.com

but it would be good for you to ask your secret question here, others might have the same if its about this tutorial

Thanks you for your reply! Great!!! Thanks you so much! :)

soloyo
soloyo profile pic Alumni
YaaH said:
alexmdc said:
soloyo said:

You lost me at gradient and shadows ...

well maybe you should open up photoshop and try to do a design by yourself from scratch without it being a collab, I'm sure you will learn and gain a lot from it :)

I agree. I told you some years ago. It's much more fun, believe me, Nestor.

I WILL, I WILL as soon as I get some disposable cash. In the mid time I will watch this awesome Alex blogs, even if I am still at a loss about them. Too much Alex awesomeness.

Santo76
Santo76 profile pic Alumni

There's a trick that can avoid you copying, creating a new doc, and pasting back. You can actually make a selection out of the shadings layer (by control-click / command-click the layer thumbnail), turn that selection into a mask and apply the halftones to the mask. Since mask is only black and white you don't have to move to other document. Then you just need to fill the layer (not the mask) with a solid color.

38Sunsets
38Sunsets profile pic Alumni
4 designs submitted - Score now!
kuro_te said:

Alex, for step 4, can you give more details about what settings you use for "Frequency" and "Angle"?

I've read that about 50-55 lines per inch is the finest screen size that can be used. I usually use 45 or lower to be on the safe side. And I've also read that using the default angle of 45° is discouraged because it could produce moire patterns.

I'm not sure what kind of voodoo is involved turning artists' designs into screen-printed shirts, but that's the kind of insight I would like.

you should never get moire if you have only one halftone layer (whatever the angle) - but as moire is pretty unpredictable all depends on what's your final mix.

but if you superpose more halftones layers like I did for my npr illo "interview with a lion", then moire may appear.

i've been playing with different frequencies (same angle 45°) for 3 superposed layers and so it was producing moire every single time. so i kept same angle (also 45°) and same frequency for all halftones layers that are behind the lion and the dude with a mic, and it worked like a charm.

PolySciGuy
PolySciGuy profile pic Alumni
2 designs submitted - Score now!

Awesome tutorial! Please keep them coming. That was very helpful.

quick-brown-fox
quick-brown-fox profile pic Alumni

Thanks for this Alex - I use a different technique (illustrator) but I tried this on my latest sub - worked like a dream!

Morkki
Morkki profile pic Alumni
38 Sunsets said:
kuro_te said:

Alex, for step 4, can you give more details about what settings you use for "Frequency" and "Angle"?

I've read that about 50-55 lines per inch is the finest screen size that can be used. I usually use 45 or lower to be on the safe side. And I've also read that using the default angle of 45° is discouraged because it could produce moire patterns.

I'm not sure what kind of voodoo is involved turning artists' designs into screen-printed shirts, but that's the kind of insight I would like.

you should never get moire if you have only one halftone layer (whatever the angle) - but as moire is pretty unpredictable all depends on what's your final mix.

but if you superpose more halftones layers like I did for my npr illo "interview with a lion", then moire may appear.

i've been playing with different frequencies (same angle 45°) for 3 superposed layers and so it was producing moire every single time. so i kept same angle (also 45°) and same frequency for all halftones layers that are behind the lion and the dude with a mic, and it worked like a charm.

AFAIK moire can appear even with just one halftoned ink because the smallest dots are landing on the threads in the printing mesh. So if the threads in the mesh are at 90 degrees, a 45 degree halftone might interfere with it and a safer angle would be (for example) 22.5.

DocEroc

Awesome! I have designed in Photoshop for years. Trying to get into doing all Illustrator because so many people want AI/EPS files.

If I design like this in Photoshop then open in Illustrator, do I have to do Image Trace for my designs to be "print ready"?

StephaJean

Yay. I finally found this POST again. I knew it was on here somewhere. Thanks again for sharing all the information!

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