Important product change information

Since this article was originally published, Phantasm CS, Phantasm CS Studio and Phantasm CS Publisher have been separated into three individual plug-ins:

Phantasm: color control and vector halftones
Rasterino: the ultimate embedded image solution for Illustrator
InkQuest: control of common pre-press tasks

Existing customers of Phantasm CS / Studio / Publisher can find full details of how this affects their licenses by reading this article.

Creative vector halftone effect

This video-based tutorial was first published in July 2010. It has now been updated and the movie finally made available through YouTube.

The question arose as to whether a rich visual vector halftone-based effect could be produced for editable text so that it remained completely dynamic; ie. it was possible to alter the underlying text at any point. Several methods were explored with the power of Phantasm CS within Adobe Illustrator CS4, or above, and the results spoke for themselves…

Software required:
Skill level: Intermediate to high


The combination of Adobe Illustrator and Phantasm CS with its vector Halftone tool allows for very rich graphic styles which keeps things completely dynamic.

The tutorial movie is already lengthy and therefore does not go into some details such as the creation of a simple background, nor the basics of live Effects or creating gradient swatches. It is therefore aimed towards those already familiar with Adobe Illustrator.

Watch the tutorial movie

If you have problems viewing this movie, the direct YouTube link is, whilst the original movie file may be found here: (less compressed than via YouTube)

Unfortunately, we had not changed over to HD quality movies when originally published (July 2010), but we have published it via YouTube in the highest quality setting possible.

Variations on a theme

One of the great things about using live Effects is that it's possible to play around with settings and create a series of variations on a theme.

Suggestions for changing settings include:

  • Changing the levels in the Hue/Saturation Colorize instances to alter the colors
  • Altering the Blur settings, or even swapping the Gaussian Blur for a Smart Blur
  • Different levels of the first/top Blurs on the primary Fill and Stroke changes affects the ratio of small and large Halftone dots (and adjusting the Halftone's Dot Gain does similar)
  • To create a more random Halftone dot pattern, duplicate the Roughen Effect applied directly after the Hue/Saturation effect
  • Add Warp live Effects to the overall object or individual Fills/Strokes to make a bulging style, yet remaining completely editable

Have a play. Here are some variations we achieved…

Variations on a theme

Further information

The reason that this tutorial is only applicable to Illustrator CS4 and above users is the use of transparency in the gradients for the symbols. This could be replicated using an opacity mask, however, for some reason the Roughen effect no longer acts on the underlying Halftone pattern. (The other anomaly with the Roughen tool is that it places itself at the top/start of an Effect stack, unless another Roughen effect is already present, in which case its second…!)

Note that this overall style is built up from many components, some rasterized such as the Grain Effect. When saving the file, if the file is made PDF compatible option is ticked in the save dialogue window, it can time a minute or more to save the file. If unpicked, saving as a native Illustrator file takes only a small fraction of this time.

Downloading the effect and further information

The article was originally published as part of the Vector Halftone Week series in 2010. If you have not yet come across these articles, here are some great additional reference links:

Variant of the halftone effect

The diverse range of results possible with the vector Halftone tool found in Phantasm CS is clear when you consider that the image above is a graphic style which was instantly applied to the photo within Illustrator. Imagination is the only limit!

Finally, the freely available Jane Austen font used in the main tutorial video may be found here.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
I didn't know Illustrator could do that!

Sign up forTips, Tricks, Updates + Discounts straight to your inbox!

High Fives! You're now successfully subscribed