I have attached a quick unfinished sketch made in Photoshop that will be developed for digital and screen printing on fabric and paper. It's basically a mix of hatching and erasing in different opacities using the brush tool in white and the eraser tool.

Illustration http://f.cl.ly/items/2u181m1T30040u2z1l1s/Jacket.png

Now given that I'd like to be able to easily change the color of the illustration (to different spot colors) while retaining the shading I thought it'd be best if I tried to recreate it as a vector drawing. Is there an easy way to recreate this or does anyone know of any techniques I could use to achieve this effect in Illustrator?

  • Easy? No. You could try Image Trace in Illustrator but it's doubtful you'd get good results with that image. You could just use a Spot Channel in Photoshop. That would be easier than trying to recreate that in Illustrator. And I'd wager you'l never find any tutorial which is relevant here.
    – Scott
    Sep 4, 2013 at 3:04
  • I agree with Scott; vectorization is not the way to go for this one. If you change the question to how something like this can be prepared for screen printing (and provided necessary details like how many color imprint), we might be able to help you out there
    – JohnB
    Sep 4, 2013 at 3:22
  • Thank you guys. I'm going to have to adjust the illustration as after speaking to a screen printer, the detail won't really be picked up by the rotary (the finished size of this printed illustration will be around 2mm squared). Would spot colour channels pick up the shaded areas accurately? I've only dealt with spot colour channels once before so don't have much experience with them. I plan to print either white ink on coloured fabric or print the background in one PMS shade and have the illustrations knockout.
    – Qrious
    Sep 4, 2013 at 14:04
  • Spot channels are as reproducible as CMYK channels. There's nothing inherently tricky about them. They merely take extra work to set up in Photoshop.
    – Scott
    Sep 5, 2013 at 2:09
  • I would say, as this is "quick sketch" and is "will be developed for" have whomever is doing it, start as a vector... because anything else is going to be a waste of everyone's time. If the illustrator is not able to accomodate that, then make it in layers in Photoshop. This is one of the silliest Qs Ive seen in a while. Jan 31, 2014 at 6:42

2 Answers 2


If your goal is to change the color and retain the shading, I'd suggest just doing that in PhotoShop. Use a layer effect or blending effect or any number of color adjustment filters (such as Colorize).

  1. Bitmap it at an output of 300 halftone screen, frequency 53, angle 22.5
  2. Create ellipse dots
  3. Convert to grayscale and delete the white with the magic eraser with the anti alias and contiguous turned off
  4. Then turn back to RGB and create a new layer

You can paint in what ever shirt color as you want in the background while keeping the shading.


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