What is a Halftone?

If you have seen any form of patterned dots on our website or throughout social media, you might be curious what those are. That pattern is known as a halftone which serves a few purposes at Delta Print Group. As a print company, we utilize halftones for many of our printed images as each image uses millions of tiny colored dots not visible to the naked eye. This is what is used to form the image. A halftone is a technique used in printing that is designed to create some sort of optical illusion using just four colors. Halftones are used in print media to display images more efficiently and save costs on ink. Rather than printing the entire picture which uses an extra amount of ink, a halftone helps to give the illusion of a completed picture by placing dots in specific locations on the page.

Why Do We Use It?

Halftones are everywhere, you’ve seen them on our social media, our website; they can be in comic books and even on postcards. Since halftones are a common print and design technique, and we are a print company, we feel it just makes sense to use them too.

Halftones make fantastic background gradients, shadows, and highlights, or even for giving depth to your typography. They come in different sizes to use for different areas. For example, you can use smaller halftones to add highlights and shadows to the fine details in a face and larger halftones for the torso, legs, and arms. Printing halftones are used to show the relative darkness, density, and size of tiny dots and vary to show changes in color and brightness. The amount of detail that is shown in the image is dependent on the number of dots per inch (DPI). A Photoshop file can save an image at 600 DPI to achieve maximum quality, anything less and you may start to see a pixelated image.

The Creative Process

The creation of halftones involves several steps to complete. The first is Image Conversion. This involves the original continuous-tone image to be analyzed and broken down into a grid of dots. Next is Dot Placement and depending on the desired tone or shade, dots of varying sizes and densities are placed within the grid. Darker areas require larger and denser dots, while lighter areas have smaller and sparser dots. Lastly is the printing stage. During Printing, the halftone image is then transferred to the printing plate or digital printer, where the dots are reproduced using ink or toner.

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