I am looking for a way to achieve a MacPaint style effect from a full color RGB piece. See below for an examples of the style.

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Basically what I need is a way to assign a different 1bit patterns to different color values (alternatively to a different grey values) in photoshop, or some other windows software (I have found HyperDither that seems to be able to do that, but it is MacOS only).

The piece I am using it on is just few objects against dark background, but because the objects rely heavily on gradients, doing it by hand would take forever.

Thank you in advance.


If you want control over the actual patterns used you could define actual patterns in Photoshop and use them as pattern fills. There're a number of ways you could apply the pattern fills... one idea which may or may not work for you is to use actual fill layers with blending options...

Take this for example:

enter image description here

Convert the image to grayscale and posterize it (with as many levels as you want patterns):

enter image description here

Create a pattern fill layer (for this example I literally copied the MacPaint pattern swatches and turned them in to patterns). From the pattern fill's layer style dialog, drag both the "Underlying Layer" sliders under the "Blend if" so that the pattern is only visible if it is over a certain range of gray:

enter image description here

Repeat with more pattern layers:

enter image description here

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The "Blend if" method gets a bit tricky with more than a few layers since you end up with the patterns blending with each other so that may not work for you.

Another option is to create a bunch of 1 bit masks to apply to each pattern fill layer (you could do this by running a threshold on your image at different levels). Something like this...

enter image description here


This might work for you in Photoshop.

  1. click Image > Mode > Greyscale, then Flatten and Discard.
  2. click Image > Mode > Bitmap, method: "diffusion dither", or "halftone screen".

Here are examples showing before and after.

before and after examples of bitmap dithering

Another possibility is the following

  1. click Image > Adjustments > Desaturate
  2. click Image > Mode > Indexed Colour. When the dialog pops up choose Colours: 13, Forced: None, Dither: Pattern.
  3. click Image > Mode > RGB
  4. Add a Brightness and contrast layer adjustment, and mess with the sliders to make it a bit brighter, with solid blacks

Here's the result of that.

Example of dithering using Indexed Mode

  • For me I had to perform the color indexing prior to desaturating the image. Otherwise the option to select a number of colors is greyed-out. – Ovaryraptor Dec 5 '17 at 19:43
  • @Ovaryraptor Make sure you start off with an image in RGB mode, 8 Bits/Channel. – Billy Kerr Dec 6 '17 at 10:47

There's also a wonderful site that does this for you using HyperDither's algorithm.



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