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What Is Halftone Printing?

Updated: Feb 20

Pictures in newspapers, comics, and magazines used the halftone technique for images in the press. The technique proved effective and cost less compared to the digital photo. So, the question is, what is halftone printing, and what makes it so effective?

Printing businesses bring back the halftone technique for aesthetic purposes. Retro photos are back in the game. Plus, it’s a versatile technique you can use for different purposes.

So, if you are a designer, marketer, or printing tech, you must brush up on the halftone technique because of its growing popularity. In this article, we will dive into the halftone printing process in detail so you can understand what is halftone printing in printing, and much more. 

What Is Halftone Printing
Source: / Photo Contributor: milart

What Is Halftone Printing?

Halftone printing is one of the most used printing techniques in the printing industry. Halftones are a mathematical dot pattern based on a grid that represents the grayscale value of a color. In order to achieve a different number of shades, the halftone method uses different-sized dots. Whenever you need a solid black, there are black dots that overlap each other. To transition slowly from gray to a lighter gray, the dots would go from large dots close together to tiny, wider apart on the white end dots.

This method allows printers to rotate the grid, change angles, align the lines, and so on. It can recreate the different grayscale tones of the photo in all sizes. The technique is based on Lines Per Inch (LPI) and Angle– a great reason why they are an excellent option for screen printing.

Halftone printing operates by following a mathematical dot pattern. The dots in the print are very tiny, almost invisible to the naked eye unless you look up close. Basically, the image will look just like the original.

Advantages of the halftone technique in printing


Given that the halftone technique operates based on the dot system, it requires smaller amounts of ink for the printing of the design. In halftone printing, the amount of ink applied to the paper is controlled by the size of the dots. Normally, smaller dots would require less ink compared to larger dots. We often use and wholeheartedly recommend the halftone technique over other printing techniques when printing high volumes of images, newspapers, or magazines. 

When you do a deeper analysis, other factors, such as printing technology and the type of ink, contribute to the cost. However, we have to say that halftone printing is more cost-effective for the use of ink resources.

Aesthetic purposes

The halftone design adds to the aesthetics. It is always a great idea to invest in the halftone print because this trend has turned into a classic. Pop art expands from comics to ads, book covers, and much more. You can hook many customers if you offer this particular technique.

As a printing provider, we foster the halftone technique, and we offer high-quality commercial printing service.

How to Make a Halftone Image?

Now that you know what is halftone printing and why many go with this technique when printing their designs, you certainly want to know the process behind making a halftone picture. The halftone images are produced on design programs. Printing machines only copy the design. The halftone technique is super easy and versatile and allows you to play with the texture and design of the photo. 

Mind that you can create different halftone illustrations with the other tools on the program. There are no limits to that. Except when creating black-and-white designs.

How to Add Halftone in Design Programs or Tools?

 All programs have different implementation methods. We enlisted some of the most used designer programs and tools with a brief guide on how to add halftone to your design. 


This is the most used program for halftone designs. To add halftone in Photoshop, you need to add the photo, then find Filter on the menu and choose Pixelate. Then, choose Color Pixelate. You will have two variables, Radius and Channel. Try them out and see what works best for the design.

How to Add Halftone in Photoshop


If you’re done with the design in Illustrator and now you want to halftone it, you can do it in just a few steps. First, you need to Select the object or area you want to halftone. Next, go to the Effect menu and choose Pixelate. Finally, find and select Color Halftone, and you are done. A bonus tip when doing a Halftone in Illustrator is to always choose black and white instead of colors when halftoning because it will be difficult to manage and track how the colors behave.

How to Add Halftone in Illustrator


This graphic design tool offers many free options, including adding a halftone to your designs. To do so, you need to open your design in Canva. Click on the image you want to edit, and click on Edit Image. Type Screen in the search bar and choose Halftone Find the Effects panel, click, and select Halftone Effect. Customize the halftone by double-clicking on the effect. However, expect the image to have a low-quality when compared to the other programs mentioned above.

How to Add Halftone in Canva


Pop culture books, comics, and the press industry all rely on the halftone technique for printing their designs for different purposes. The press industry finds the halftone printing process cost-effective for mass printing.

Basically, the halftone printing process uses the dot pattern to create photographic prints or replicas of the original photo. The dots are not visible from a normal distance, but if you take a closer look, you can see the tiny dots on the printed design.

Inspired by this printing technique, graphic designers created Pop Art just by enlarging the dots on purpose. This helps them make their designs more cartoonish. Currently, pop art is all over the internet, and if you are an aspiring graphic designer, you should focus more on what is halftone printing. You will definitely need it in the future.

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