Creating a mezzotint

A mezzotint is a special halftone pattern that replaces dots with a random pattern of swirling lines and wormholes. Photoshop's Mezzotint filter is an attempt to emulate this effect. Although not entirely successful — true mezzotinting options can be properly implemented only as PostScript printing functions, not as filtering functions — they do lend themselves to some pretty interesting interpretations.

The filter itself is straightforward. You choose Filter ^ Pixelate ^ Mezzotint, select an effect from the Type submenu, and press Enter. A preview box enables you to see what each of the ten Type options looks like. Figure 11-4 shows off four of the effects at 230 ppi.

To create Figure 11-5, I applied the Mezzotint filter set to the Long Lines effect. Then I used the Edit ^ Fade Mezzotint command to mix filtered and original images. I selected Overlay from the Mode pop-up menu and set the Opacity value to 40 percent. The result is a scraped image. (I've decreased the resolution of the image to 180 ppi so that you can see the effect a little more clearly.)

When applied to grayscale artwork, the Mezzotint filter always results in a black-and-white image. When applied to a color image, the filter automatically applies the selected effect independently to each of the color channels. Although all pixels in each channel are changed to either black or white, you can see a total of eight colors — black, red, green, blue, yellow, cyan, magenta, and white — in the RGB composite view. The upper-left example of Color Plate 11-3 shows an image subject to the Mezzotint filter in the RGB mode.

If the Mezzotint filter affects each channel independently, it follows that the color mode in which you work dramatically affects the performance of the filter. For example, if you apply Mezzotint in the Lab mode, you again whittle the colors down to eight, but a very different eight — black, cyan, magenta, green, red, two muddy blues, and a muddy rose — as shown in the top-middle example of Color Plate 11-3. If you're looking for bright happy colors, don't apply Mezzotint in the Lab mode.

Mezzotint Photoshop
Figure 11-4: The results of applying the Mezzotint filter set to each of four representative effects. These line patterns are on par with the halftoning options offered when you select Mode ^ Bitmap, as discussed back in Chapter 4.
Photoshop Mezzotint Technique
Figure 11-5: To get this effect, I applied the Mezzotint filter and then chose the Fade command (on the Edit menu in Photoshop 6). In the Fade dialog box, I selected the Overlay mode and set the Opacity value to 40 percent.

In CMYK, the filter produces roughly the same eight colors that you get in RGB — white, cyan, magenta, yellow, violet-blue, red, deep green, and black. However, as shown in the top-right example of the color plate, the distribution of the colors is much different. The image appears much lighter and more colorful than its RGB counterpart. This happens because the filter has a lot of black to work with in the RGB mode but very little — just that in the black channel — in the CMYK mode.

The bottom row of Color Plate 11-3 shows the effects of the Mezzotint filter after using the Fade command to mix it with the original image. As in Figure 11-4, I chose Overlay from the Mode pop-up menu and set the Opacity value to 40 percent. These three very different images were all created using the same filter set to the same effect. The only difference is color mode.

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Understanding Adobe Photoshop Features You Will Use

Understanding Adobe Photoshop Features You Will Use

Adobe Photoshop can be a complex tool only because you can do so much with it, however for in this video series, we're going to keep it as simple as possible. In fact, in this video you'll see an overview of the few tools and Adobe Photoshop features we will use. When you see this video, you'll see how you can do so much with so few features, but you'll learn how to use them in depth in the future videos.

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