I'm working on a map graphic, and I'd like to create an effect for sandy shoals, such as you see on this image. By default, I could just have the outline as a heavier dot, and the fill as a tile using smaller dots. But I'd love to be able to mimic the vignette effect that appears on this hand drawn map. Suggestions? Thanksenter image description here

  • I'm looking forward to answers to this. I believe this effect is sometimes called stipple effect. Afaik there is no simple way to achieve this out of the box. Perhaps the Stipplism plugin from Astute Graphics could be what you are looking for?
    – Wolff
    Nov 20, 2020 at 22:43

1 Answer 1


Option A - A Plug in.

I, personally, would make my life easier and use the Phantasm plug in from AstuteGraphics.com. It's not a free plug in, but for me, it's worth the expense specifically because it does many things in 5 minutes that would otherwise take hours to try and create.

Start with a basic shape that's a gradient mesh.. dark edges, lighter center....

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(You can use non-mesh objects as well. But for this example the mesh works better).

Then choose Effects > Phantasm > Halftone to bring up the Phantasm window...

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(CS6 screenshot)

What this does is use values to determine the size of halftone dots/characters. The darker the value, the larger the dot.

From there it's merely a matter of adjusting the settings in the window....

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You can also adjust the curves in the dialog window to refine the appearance....

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I believe there's a free trial available at Astute's site. That may suffice for a single project.

You can leave the effect as "live" to adjust further later, or expand it so it's "baked in" in case you need to adjust manually.

Quite honestly getting gradient meshes correct on irregular shapes will be more difficult that any of the plug in adjusting.

In the past, Astute Graphics has provided me with free software in exchange for my evaluation and opinion.
However, I do not benefit in any way should another user choose to purchase Astute products.

Option 2 - A Blend

Two dotted strokes.. blended...

enter image description here

This provides the decrease in dots, but everything remains rather uniform otherwise. This could be accomplished with blends, but things would probably need sectioning to get the drop off correct. I didn't spend any real time on this blend.. so it leave much to be desired.

  • I may try this....thanks. I did suspect it would involve a halftone type of effect, but couldn't see how it could be done to fit an irregular shape!
    – CSyrett
    Nov 20, 2020 at 23:21
  • Nice answer, but I still think there is a long way from halftones to the more organic stipple dithering. You go quickly through the Pattern options, so I can't really get a good look at the FM and Radial settings. Do you have the whole Astute package? Could Stipplism be of any use? I'm asking because I'm interested in a more organic way of dithering where the dots doesn't follow a regular pattern. A bit like this.
    – Wolff
    Nov 20, 2020 at 23:48
  • @Wolff Stiplism is a CC2019+ pug in I believe.. Astute dropped CS6 dev a year or so ago. I might have it.. but booted for AI CS6 at the moment (like most of the time) and can't access AICC(bleeding edge) at this time. So, I can't say directly. Phantasm tends to create more uniformity overall.
    – Scott
    Nov 20, 2020 at 23:53
  • I think Stiplism is merely this Phantasm Halftone effect + scatter options... (Phantasm has no scatter options)
    – Scott
    Nov 20, 2020 at 23:59
  • @Scott, I've been playing around with a script which can make this stippling effect based on 2D ball collision. I like the result, but sadly it's very slow. On my computer it takes about 70 seconds before an svg file is ready for download.
    – Wolff
    Nov 21, 2020 at 0:29

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