Tutorial: Comic Dots!

If you look at  older comics closely you’ll notice the colors are comprised of these little color dots.  Those are inherent in the “four color process” that generates all the colors from four basic colors of ink; Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black.  It’s also referred to as CMYK color.  Why  K is used for black , I have no idea.  The four color process is still used today but advances in technology have made the dots less noticeable.   In this illustration of a fifties circa mom I wanted to use the dots to give the background a retro feel.

Open up Photoshop and  create a GRAYSCALE file.  Using the GRADATION tool put in a grey to white gradation.

Next  go to the filter menu at the top of the window and choose  PIXELATE/COLOR HALFTONE .  A  window pops up and asks for a maximun radius size for the pixels.   I’d suggest you play around with different settings to find what looks right to you.   In this example I chose 25.

Now you have some black and white dots.   Convert the file to RGB or CMYK.    Here I have selected a blue color from the pallette.  I chose Cyan to accurately reflect the ink in the CMYK color process.   Use the PAINTBUCKET tool to drop color into the black and white dots.  Be sure to turn OFF  “Contiguous” in the settings for the PAINTBUCKET tool.     With contiguous turned off,  it just takes one click to fill in all the dots with the color you need.

Now copy and paste your retro dots into the background!


3 Responses to “Tutorial: Comic Dots!”

  1. In the printing process, CMYK refer (as you correctly said above) to the four colours used to produce full colour. Black is not actually necessary as CMY produces black, but it is not as deep. “K” stands for Black rather than “B”, and the reason is that it was thought that printers would mistake “B” for Blue (or some other colour). So “K” was used – it is the last letter for black in many languages.

  2. Thanks!!!

  3. Graphic Designer Says:

    While CMY can be used to create black, in a press setting, it is best to use pure K due to the tendency for the CMY plates to get out of alignment, resulting in blurred blacks, particularly affecting text.
    Using a pure K for text assures it is only on one plate and thus not subject to these issues.

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