Vector Halftone in Illustrator

Posted on January 30, 2008 | Category :Tutorials & Tips | 30 Comments on Vector Halftone in Illustrator

Below is a tutorial I’ve written for creating a vector halftone in Adobe Illustrator. I also have a halftone tutorial for Photoshop here.

I start by making a linear gradient that fades from black to white.

Next, I rasterize my gradient. Go to Object > Rasterize.

A dialogue box pops up. Since I’m just going to use this object to trace over, I select 72 dpi.

With my rasterized gradient selected, I go to Filter > Pixelate > Color Halftone.

A dialogue box will appear. Set the Max. Radius to 10 or another number. The lower the number, the smaller the dots. I kept my Screen Angles at 0, so my dot pattern wasn’t at an angle (this makes it easier to trace).

Here’s what my pattern looks like. Now it is time to trace.

I draw two red circles. One over the biggest dot on the end and another one on the smallest dot on the other end. Using the Align palette, I center align my dots vertically.

Next, I want to do a blend. Go to Object > Blend > Blend Options to set up your blend options.

A dialogue box will pop up. Set your Spacing to Specified Steps. The number of steps should be the number of black dots between your two red dots. I counted mine and had 22 dots.

Now you need to run the blend, so make sure your two red dots are selected. Go to Object > Blend > Make.

The blend creates several new dots between the two.

Since the blend creates a line of dots and not actual shapes, you’ll need to Flatten Transparency to convert them into shapes. Go to Object > Flatten Transparency.

A dialogue box will appear. Set the Raster/Vector balance to 100 and click OK.

Now your red dots are shapes.

Next, you’ll need to copy this row. Select all the dots and hold down the Option/Alt key and drag the dots down to line up with the next row.

You can repeat the copy you just made by going to Object >Transform > Transform Again or by using the keyboard shortcut for it: Command/Control D.

Keep hitting Command/Control D until you get to the bottom. Then, delete the raster dot pattern. Now, you have a vector halftone.

This post was written on Content copyright 2008 Cory Thoman.

[tags]Vector, Halftone, Dots, Illustrator, Tutorial, Adobe[/tags]

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    hi! thanks for the tutorial, i hace a question for you: the effect works with type too??

    Carpe diem!

  2. Cory

    Yes. I think you could do it with text. Just type your text, create outlines on it and add a gradient. Then follow the steps in the tutorial. Or this might be a little easier and quicker…

    You could take the above pattern and use the Pathfinder palette to unite it as one shape. Then take your outlined text and unite that as one shape. Finally select both shapes and use the intersect pathfinder on them.

    That would probably be the quickest way.-Cory


    thanks so much!!! cory 🙂

  4. Cory

    I added a tutorial for halftone text:

  5. Tim Branson

    Nice tut. Seems to be the same type tutorial you find elsewheres. Not that theres anything wrong with it.
    I found a few posts that link to and they are circular.
    How is this done? Live trace isnt making circles circular no matter how good the reso is. Im stumped.

    Again… neat tut!

  6. Cory

    Tim, I’ve never been able to get the autotrace to draw a perfect circle, so I use the circle tool. It takes longer, but it looks better. -Cory

  7. 08/09/03

    Hello webmaster , Your blog post about photoshop vector is absolutely great. Easy to understand it and with excellent value. I just stumbled up and dugg your site to digg as good news article about photoshop vector on Wednesday . Cheers, Mike Brown , keep up the good work !

  8. 08/10/09

    This seems like a lot of work to go through to manually create a simple halftone. And it leaves you hanging for more complex shapes, and gradients. I figured out another method that is super easy to use. I’ve posted it on my site. Hope you find it useful.

  9. Cory

    Jac, Thanks for posting your tutorial. As I was telling Tim above, the problem using Live Trace is that you get distorted circles. Using the Blend tool takes a little longer, but the circles are perfectly round. Also, you can use other shapes that aren’t circles (maybe halftone hearts or shamrocks). I have tutorial with stars for that here.

  10. 08/10/18

    I was walking to my mailbox today and thinking about using patterns for a halftone pattern and thinking to myself that your tutorial would be the perfect way to do it.

    As for the distorted circles I prefer it to look a little more rough, but your method would be preferable when making super clean logos, something I haven’t really considered halftones for.

  11. 09/01/08

    anyone know how to make the halftone pattern outword, like you see on “blurry” text on t-shirts? Everything I find only shows how to make the inner paths filled with the pattern. Thanks!

  12. 09/05/12

    You should try Vectoraster, it’s a tool specifically designed to make vector halftone effects. You can use circular points or a bunch of other shapes, line rasters and more…

  13. Sara

    Yeah! Great man! Thank you so much!!!

  14. Kalpesh


    Have a question i and can not find the answer

    1.Halftone is an image created from a photograph and is comprised of a pattern of tiny dots.

    2.Halftone is an illustration made up of distinct black and white areas .

    1.Both are right ?
    2.Number 1 is right
    3.Number 2 is right
    4.Non of the statments are right


  15. Cory

    Despite what people may or may not say about me, I’m not a walking encyclopedia. Luckily, there is wikipedia:

    I hope that helps.


  16. Jess

    Hi Cory,
    Is there a way to fit this to a path. Now that I have my circles down, can you make them simulate a wave pattern I have seen an image on Istock. -> ID # 9990545


  17. Cory


    I didn’t have a way off the top of my head. I did a little test with creating a pattern brush, but I couldn’t get it from distorting. I did buy a program a couple months ago that works pretty well for creating halftones, so you may want to give that a shot:

    I hope that helps.

  18. 10/03/17

    Thanks so much for this. I’ve been using CorelDraw for years and can create a blend in that program, but was clueless how to do it in Illustrator. Very helpful.

  19. Don B

    Short, sweet and precise. Just the way I like it. Thanks!

  20. somebody

    Thanks for great tut

  21. 11/01/09

    Hi Cory;
    I have been searching for just such a graduated halftone screen. I re-create art work for classic pinball machine backglasses as they were originally created; Black line art, rubylith overlays, and for the one I am currently working on, a graduated halftone screen about 80 lpi. that is part of the lettering. Could you/would you do such for me and proof it as a film positive? Email your estimate for about three sheets.
    Thanks And Best Wishes;
    Ray Lockhart
    Check out artists making of Target Alpha

  22. Michelle E

    Hi Cory,

    Bless You!!!!! I really need a half screen but didn’t know what to do. Now I can make one exactly the way I wanted to. I design Dance Bags For a company in California.

    Thank you so much for your help!!!


  23. Edward

    You could skip everyting above
    “draw two red circles. One over the biggest dot on the end and another one on the smallest dot on the other end. Using the Align palette, I center align my dots vertically.”

    Thank you!

  24. Cory


    It’s true. You don’t need to make the raster one. I like having it as a guide though to get the spacing, number, and size of the dots more easily.

  25. 11/04/22

    Nice writeup. thorough. damned helpful. one of those things you never think youll need or use until you do! Then its like im not about to spend all the time in manually separating/manipulating those dots! Nice work, thanks for sharing.

  26. tan

    like this so much.
    useful and clear tutorial~

  27. Jan

    Thanks for the tutorial. I’ve seen others but this vector one is absolutely perfect for what I’m needing, I want nice sharp lines. Good work Cory.

  28. Marek

    Thank you for this tutorial. Simple and effective! This is what i was looking for. Thumb up!

  29. 13/03/22

    Thanks so much for this tutorial. It was easy to understand, and straight forward to execute.

  30. Stephen

    Cory – Great tutorial. I found that if you can replace the repetitive Transform Again (Cntrl/D) command with another Blend step to repeat the halftone pattern accross your canvas. This is nice if you have to repeat the pattern over large portions, or if you need modify on the fly the density of the halftone. That can be done by selecting the blend object, and going to the Object>Blend>Blend Options… and adjusting the number of steps. With the Preview checked, it makes it a snap to fine tune your halftone gradient.