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T-Shirt Design > Halftones: What They Are and How to Create Them for T-Shirt Designs

Halftones: What They Are and How to Create Them for T-Shirt Designs

Halftones Zoomed Image

Halftones can be a designer's best friend. Not only are they a great way to do shading and gradients but they also enable this contrast to be added without raising the price of the printing because halftones don't count as an additional color. Recently I came across a terrific tutorial over at Emptees by sittingduck on his approach to doing halftones.

Halftones for T-Shirts

First, let's go over what a halftone is. A halftone is simply a reduced percentage of the original color. If you think of a square of color as a series of dots then a halftone will have something less than 100% of those dots filled in for the color in question. For example if you have a solid black square and you change it to a 50% halftone then that means that instead of all the dots being shaded in in black then only half of them are shaded in instead. This will give the image the appearance of being grey. Similarly Red will look pink and a dark blue will be much lighter. The major benefit here is obvious; a 2 color design - Dark Blue and Red -can now be given the appearance of being a 4 color design - Dark Blue, Light Blue, Red, and Pink - all still at the 2 color price!

While this economical increase in colors is certainly cool enough on its own, as sittingduck demonstrates in his tutorial, halftones really shine when they are used to increase the quality of the design itself. Sittingduck takes us through the process of creating a halftone in Adobe Photoshop that gives the design a much more rich, layered depth. After teaching us how to create these layers, sittingduck touches on the helpfulness of adding textures.

Adding textures to a design with halftones further increases its depth and gives it even more contrast. Sittingduck demonstrates how to give the design a distressed look as well as a grunge look. He chooses the grunge look which takes the design from a simple text to a fully formed design which would be ready for printing. Be sure to head over to Emptees and check out this tutorial for yourself.