I am a newcomer to the design world and am excited to learn new techniques. I recently came across an interesting design effect and would love to learn it. The effect can be seen in the following image:

From what I have gathered, this is known as the Halftone effect. Specifically, I am interested in creating a halftone effect using lines of variable width to depict a human face, just like in the image linked above.

Could you please recommend a tool or software that can help me achieve this type of halftone effect? Additionally, if you have any tips or resources on how to use the tool to create this effect, that would be incredibly helpful.

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    It looks like the image is missing. Commented May 27 at 12:57
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    I fixed the missing image for you. You seem to have deleted the first part of the link. Check out the syntax here: markdownguide.org/basic-syntax/#reference-style-links
    – Wolff
    Commented May 27 at 13:11
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    Hi. You're generally going to need a raster image editor to do something like this. Both Photoshop and GIMP (which is free) can create halftones using lines. You also need something like a "low key" photograph with a dark background, and only the face lit. After you've made it, you could then auto trace it in Illustrator if you want.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented May 28 at 8:57

2 Answers 2


This looks like an image which has been converted from Grayscale mode to Bitmap mode in Photoshop using the Halftone Screen method, with Shape set to Line.

It's easy enough to apply this method, but it's cumbersome to explain how to get a good result. This kind of "effect" is very dependent on the pixel dimensions of the image and its level of detail, so it's hard to give general advice.

Besides that, not every image will look good this way. The example you posted looks beautiful, but that's a mix of luck, good taste and deliberate manipulation.


We'll use this public domain image as an example. It's 1920 x 1440 px @ 72 PPI.

I've turned it to grayscale and given it some contrast. It's not particularly suitable for this effect, but it's OK to show the principle.

I add some Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur to it. Otherwise the lines will be too ragged.

Then I select Image > Mode > Bitmap and set Resolution > Output to 144 PPI and Method > Use to Halftone Screen.

In the next dialog I set Frequency to the lowest possible, 1, the Angle to 45 degrees and the Shape to Line.

The result is a bitmap image at twice the size of the original.

Bitmap means it's 1-bit - only black and white pixels. This is good for print if the effective resolution is above 1200 PPI, but for screen you'll probably want to scale it down to the original size to get some anti-aliasing.

So I select Image > Mode > Grayscale and set Size Ratio to 2:

I know the result isn't exactly breathtaking. A good result would require a more suitable input image manually prepared for the method and a lot more trial and error with the settings.

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    Thank you, this is helpful for me to start with. Commented May 28 at 14:34

There is a paid plug-in for Illustrator from Astute Graphics called WidthScribe.

I have no affiliation with them but find their plug-ins to be really good.

Part of this plug-in is the Width Stamp tool which will apply variable width strokes as a fill to an object. There are various different parameters you can control and tutorials/ examples available. It is worth looking into.

Other than that, you can create this with stock Illustrator tools but a good knowledge of lighting and shading are required and a solid knowledge of using Illustrator's tools. Simply put— good artistry is required.

  • Although this is very easy to do in photoshop.
    – joojaa
    Commented May 27 at 16:05

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