This is somewhat of a continuation on the last project I was working on.

I have this image of the California Bear that I altered in Photoshop:

enter image description here

When I place the picture into Illustrator and use the Color Halftone effect I get a raster version of something I really like:

enter image description here

But, I want this in vector format so I can reuse the image.

When I live trace the image, the absolute best I can get is this:

enter image description here

Which doesn't look horrible, but I would never use it for my personal logo (which I'm planning on doing with this piece) because there's so many dots that are just not circular.

Are there some better image trace methods I don't know about? or is fixing these details just part of the job when using a tool like image trace?

I really don't want to go in an manually make every halftone dot...


I have tried Phantasm CS and the closest I can get it to mimic Illustrator's version is this:

enter image description here

...which is crap.

These are the Phantasm CS settings I used (and I just got the plug in about an hour ago, so I may be missing something):

enter image description here

  • Play with the dot gain curve in Phantasm as Lése Magesté suggests.... imageshack.us/scaled/landing/708/snap001jk.png
    – Scott
    Jan 8, 2013 at 7:56
  • Can you clarify if you want this to resemble a closeup of a printed halftone? The angle of the screen suggests so, but the result is far too well defined.
    – e100
    Jan 9, 2013 at 19:55

2 Answers 2

  1. Start with a very high resolution raster effect: Maybe 1200 ppi.

  2. Apply a slight blur to eliminate any evidence of aliased pixels.

  3. Spend some real quality time with the multitude of variables in Illustrator's trace settings. You can make surprising changes with small adjustments.

And don't forget that this is low tech effect.


If you're using it for a logo, then you're probably being paid enough to clean it up by hand (using the ellipse tool). Or, do it the smart way, and just get the Phantasm CS plugin, which has a vector halftone feature.

If you want to reproduce the Photoshop halftone filter, you need to start by getting the grid angle and DPI correct. Then you just need to adjust the dot gain curve and the dot size. Gaussian blurring the image and little tweaking with the settings on Phantasm CS produced this: b&w halftone bear

Phantasm halftone settings:

DPI:4, Grid Angle:30°, Scale W & H:75%, Dot Gain curve (input, output):(0%, 0%), (27%, 36%), (70%, 85%), (92%, 98%), (99%, 100%)

  • I have the Phantasm plug in (or at least I just downloaded it as I read about it online) but I can't get it to mimic the halftone that Illustrator can create originally. And this if for my personal logo. I'm not being paid to make it at all. Jan 8, 2013 at 6:04
  • I did notice that my DPI was really low. After adjusting it to 300, the image trace was a LOT smoother. I just wish that the Phantasm CS dots had more of a variance in size. I want a few really big dots, but Phantasms seem to always be mostly uniform in size. Jan 8, 2013 at 8:03
  • Could you post a screen shot of the settings you used on Phantasm? Jan 8, 2013 at 8:39
  • That's a problem with your image/settings, not Phantasm. Your image has almost no midtones, only shadows and highlights. That's why I blurred it. You can also emphasize the midtones by adjusting the dot gain curve. Jan 8, 2013 at 9:06
  • 1
    @OghmaOsiris: have you tried reverting to the original bear image you based your Photoshop version on? Perhaps starting with a photo source will net you better results...
    – horatio
    Jan 8, 2013 at 18:18

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