Vector Halftone patterns with Adobe Illustrator

This intermediate tutorial will create a 50% vector halftone pattern using solid dots. It's assumed you have a basic understanding of Adobe Illustrator tools and palettes. You can change the percentage of the pattern by adjusting the scale dimensions in step four below. I'm working zoomed in on the artboard to make things easier to see. The actual size of the circles in the pattern matches Illustrator's default grid size.

Step one : Set up

First, select View > Show Grid from the menu. This will aid in lining up the different circles. Draw a circle, centering it on a grid intersection and large enough to touch the grid lines next to the edges as seen here:


Step Two : Row

Duplicate this circle (click-drag it with the Option/Alt key depressed) to create a row of circles that overlap on either side. The center of the circles should all fall on an intersection of the grid.


Step Three : Duplicating

Select and duplicate the row of circles several times to make a box of circles that all overlap. Be certain to line the center of the circles to grid intersections.


Step Four : Scaling

Select each circle individually. Double click the scale tool. Enter 50% uniform to reduce the circle to 50% of it's size. Repeat for each and every circle in the block, one at a time.

This is where an action can come in real handy. Select your first circle, click the "New" icon at the bottom of the actions palette and assign an F-key to the action. Hit record. Double click the scale tool, enter 50% in the uniform field and hit okay. Click "stop" in the actions palette.

Now all you need do is select a circle and hit the F-key you assigned to the action.


Repeat the reduction until every circle has been reduced.


Step Five : Cropping

When you have every circle reduced, draw a rectangle above the circles so that the rectangles top left corner is positioned in the center of the upper left circle and the rectangles lower right corner is positioned in the center of the lower right circle. Color the rectangle with no stroke and no fill. This rectangle is only red so it can be seen.


Step Six : Crop

Select everything, hold the Option/Alt key and click "Crop" in the Pathfinder Palette. You will notice the circles that fall outside the rectangle are cut to meet the rectangle boundaries



Step Seven : Clean up

Draw another rectangle anywhere, any rectangle that has no fill and no stroke. From the menu choose Select > Same > Fill and stroke. You will see objects in the block of circles highlight, this is good. Hit delete twice. To remove all these unfilled, unstroked paths. The appearance of your circles should not change in any way. This is done to remove the superfluous objects that will increase file size and generally just build a cleaner pattern.


You should not see any change in the artwork after hitting the delete key twice.


Step Eight : Creating the pattern

Click-drag to select the entire block of circles, then drag it all to the Swatches palette.


Step Nine : Complete

You now have a 50% halftone pattern fill. You can use the pattern swatch to fill any object and it's all created with solid objects - no gradients or screening. Simply draw any shape and click the swatch you made in the swatches palette.



You can repeat these steps to make patterns of various percentages, essentially giving you a complete set of vector halftone dots. You can also vary the reduction percentage for the dots to create odd dot patterns and create some interesting effects.


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