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SPN 450/550 Fall 2021 Makerspace : Halftone Photographs

A guide to resources relating to the Makerspace for SPN 450/550 students.

Halftone Photography Using Laser Engraving

During the Makerspace session, we will learn how to convert a color photograph to halftone. In 1880, the "Daily Graphic" newspaper from New York published the first halftone photograph. Halftone converts an image to dots, and from far enough away, the dots are not visible to the eye. Newsprint presses of the time could not print in gradients of gray; the process could only print black, or blank space. Halftone allowed for the large-scaled production of images in newspapers. In the last two decades of the 19th century, halftone became a popular way to reproduce photographic images in newsprint. The ability to reproduce photographs in popular newspapers was a powerful political tool. 

Using Photoshop to Convert an Image to Halftone

1. Find an image to convert. Make sure you have the rights to modify and recreate the image. Pixabay is a great place to find open source images. You can also perform a Google image search, and on the results screen select Tools -> Usage Rights -> Creative Commons Licensing. 

2. If you don't have an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, don't worry! You can check out a license from Miami University Libraries. Follow the instructions here to do so. 

3. Open your chosen image in Photoshop.

4. Select Image -> Adjustments -> Desaturate. 

A screenshot of a fox image being edited in photoshop. The "Image" menu is selected, then "Adjustments", then "Desaturate".

You image will now be black and white. 

5. Next, select, Filters -> Pixelate -> Color Halftone

A fox image being edited in Photoshop. "Filter" is selected, then "Pixelate", then "Color Halftone".

6. In the filter menu, select the following options. (You can change the pixel radius if you'd like to experiment. I've found that 5 works well.)

The "Color Halftone" menu is Photoshop. The values are: Max. Radius 5 pixels. All screen angles are set to 45 Degrees.

7. Your image is now converted to halftone and should look like this:

A pixelated (halftone) black and white image of a fox.

8. Choose an area to crop and zoom in on for laser cutting. (I chose to zoom into the fox's face.)

A black and white pixelated image of a fox's face.

9. Save your image as a .jpeg for laser engraving. ​​​​​​