Halftone patterns, those intensely-dotted images, are a mainstay of both print and web design. While traditionally used as a means of faithfully reproducing images in print, it has also become a style all its own.
Let’s have a look at some examples of how Halftone is being implemented through code. As you’ll see, there are a number of different takes and techniques for bringing this classic pattern to the web.
Halftone Your Cat (Or Non-Cat) Photo by YCW
This is probably the most familiar implementation of Halftone. It consists of adding the effect to an existing photograph (a cat, in this case). But this snippet is also fully customizable. You can replace dots with, for example, emoji or text. In addition, you can change the sizing of each dot. And, yes, you can swap the cat with a face – but why?
Press for Halftone by Taylor Hunt
Here’s a very creative use for Halftone. There’s a subtle pattern displayed on this button, with a slightly bolder hover effect. But clicking will turn on a high-contrast pattern that will grab your attention.
Revealing Secrets by Tyler Durrett
The flashlight effect has become quite popular in recent times. Here, it’s combined with a halftone pattern that “illuminates” hidden text. It’s a fun interaction, and the pattern brings a bit of a retro/brutalist vibe.
Taking a Subtler Tone by Devin Price
No law says halftone has to be loud – and this snippet is proof. Halftone effects are blended perfectly into a crosshatch pattern. The result is something both unique and subtle. Bonus points for being built with pure CSS.
Far-Out Hover Effects by Théo Gil
Here’s a snippet that looks like something from a sci-fi thriller. A blue-on-black halftone photo stares at us from the other side of the screen. Place your cursor over it, and a portion of the image fades into obscurity.
Parallax Sans BS by Eric Jackson Wood
Another surreal take on the effect, this photo features a dizzying array of colored dots. Moreover, moving your cursor brings a 3D parallax effect that exposes a subtle outline floating above the main image. The added dimension makes the effect all the more interesting.
Duo It All Jos van Weesel
Thanks to CSS blend modes, halftone effects can be added to just about anything. In this example, a beautiful blend is placed on top of various photos. Hovering over one reveals its true color. It’s a very practical use that is compelling but without being over-the-top.
More Than Your Average Text Shadow by Mark Mead
Let’s finish things off with another practical use case. Here we have some basic outlined typography that utilizes offset shadowing. The first two examples use a solid color shadow, which works well. But the second set features a halftone pattern, which offers a more artsy feel.
A Pattern of Innovation
The great thing about combining code with a classic image effect is that it opens up a whole new world of possibilities. Sure, we can add a halftone pattern to a design element – but why stop there?
Designers are finding new and clever uses for these effects. In the code snippets above, halftone is utilized both traditionally and innovatively. The old boundaries only exist if we want them to.