How to Create a Halftone Effect in After Effects

In this tutorial, we’ll walk you through the process of creating a stunning halftone effect in After Effects CC. The halftone effect enhances the tiny dots that form a printed image, giving it a unique and eye-catching look. While the dots may appear to blend together from a distance, they actually break the illusion of solid tones up close. We’ll utilize the powerful features of After Effects, such as the CC Ball simulation, levels adjustment, and blur effects, to achieve this captivating effect. So let’s dive right in!

Learn How to Create a Halftone Effect

Step 1: Creating a New Composition

To begin, create a new composition as a clean canvas for your halftone project. Follow these steps:

  1. Click on the Layer tab, then select New and choose Solid.
  2. In the dialog box, select Make Comp Size.
  3. Give your composition a meaningful name, like “Halftone”.
  4. Set the dimensions to 1920 x 1080 and the frame rate to 29.97.
  5. Click OK to create the composition.

Now you’re ready to start building your halftone effect!

Step 2: Build Your Layers

Now comes the fun part! In this step, we’ll create two solid layers for the background and grid. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Click on the Layer tab, then select New and choose Solid.
  2. Select Make Comp Size in the dialog box.
  3. Name the layer BG and click OK.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 to create another solid layer, this time naming it Grid.
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Congratulations! You’ve laid a solid foundation for your halftone effect!

Step 3: Create the Dots

Now it’s time to create the dots that form the halftone pattern. We’ll use the CC Ball Action effect to accomplish this. Follow these steps:

  1. Click on the Effect tab, then select Simulation and choose CC Ball Action.
  2. Expand the CC Ball Action layer in the Timeline panel.
  3. Adjust the Ball Size to 30.
  4. Click on the Effect tab again, then select Channel and choose Invert. This will turn the dots black.
  5. Select the Grid layer.
  6. Click on the Layer tab and choose Pre-compose.
  7. Name the new composition Grid.
  8. Select the option Move all attributes to the new composition, then click OK.

Well done! Your dots are now ready to go!

Step 4: Add Your Footage

Next, you’ll add the footage you want to apply the halftone effect to. Follow these steps:

  1. Import the footage into After Effects.
  2. With the footage selected, click on the Layer tab and choose Pre-compose.
  3. Name your footage composition and click OK.
  4. Select the Footage layer in the Timeline panel.
  5. Press Command + D to duplicate the Footage layer.
  6. Name the duplicated layer Inverted.
  7. Click on the Effect tab, then select Channel and choose Invert.
  8. Turn off the visibility of both the Footage layer and the Inverted layer.

Now, which image did you choose for this effect?

Step 5: Add a Blur Effect

To add depth and dimension to your halftone effect, we’ll apply a blur effect using the Camera Lens Blur property and adjust the levels of your image using the Levels property. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Select the Grid layer.
  2. Click on the Effect tab, then select Blur & Sharpen and choose Camera Lens Blur.
  3. Expand the Camera Lens Blur settings.
  4. Under Blur Map Layer, choose the Inverted composition.
  5. Change the Source from Source to Effects and Masks.
  6. Click on the Effect tab, then select Color Correction and choose Levels.
  7. Expand the Levels settings.
  8. Change the Channel from RGB to Alpha.
  9. Drag the Color Picker down in the levels box to reveal the image.
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Amazing! Your halftone effect is starting to take shape!

Step 6: Adding a Gaussian Blur

To further enhance your halftone effect, we’ll add a Gaussian Blur effect to give it a polished look. Follow these steps:

  1. Click on the Effect tab, then select Blur & Sharpen and choose Gaussian Blur.
  2. Expand the Gaussian Blur settings.
  3. Adjust the Blurriness to 5.0.

You’re almost there!

Step 7: Adding a Levels Property

In this step, we’ll tweak the levels of the image to bring out more detail. Follow these steps:

  1. Click on the Effect tab, then select Color Correction and choose Levels.
  2. Expand the Levels settings.
  3. Switch the Channel from RGB to Alpha.
  4. Adjust the Levels gradient values to enhance the image details.

Now your effect has more contrast and drama!

Step 8: Final Step – The Big Reveal

To complete your halftone effect, we’ll toggle the visibility of your footage and lower its opacity to highlight the dots. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Toggle the visibility of the Footage layer.
  2. Press t to reveal the Opacity property.
  3. Lower the Opacity to about 18%.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully created your halftone effect!

Bonus: Add a Transition

And now, for a little extra flair, let’s add a transition to make your halftone effect pop even more!

Step 1: Creating a Mask

To begin, we’ll create a new solid layer and apply a mask. Follow these steps:

  1. Click on the Layer tab, then select New and choose Solid.
  2. Adjust the dimensions to something like 1920 x 1920.
  3. Select the Solid layer in the Timeline panel.
  4. Use the Ellipse tool to create a mask by double-clicking.
  5. Expand the Mask settings and change the Mask Expansion to -960.
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Now you have your mask ready, and it’s time to take it to the ball!

Step 2: Animate the Mask

To reveal your halftone effect in a circle shape, we’ll animate the mask. Follow these steps:

  1. Set a keyframe at frame 0.
  2. Move the playhead to the second mark of your footage.
  3. Expand the Mask settings and change the Mask Expansion to 160.
  4. Set a keyframe.
  5. Highlight the keyframe on the Timeline where you want the animation to begin.
  6. Right-click the second keyframe, go to Keyframe Assistant, and choose Easy Ease.
  7. Right-click the keyframe again, go to Keyframe Velocity, and select Incoming Velocity Influence. Change it to 80%.

You’re easing your way through this tutorial!

Step 3: Transition In

Now we’ll incorporate a transition to elegantly reveal your halftone effect with animation. Follow these steps:

  1. Select the Footage layer.
  2. Press Command + D to duplicate the layer.
  3. With the duplicated layer selected, press t to reveal the Opacity property and change it to 100%.
  4. Change the Track Matte to Alpha Inverted.

Let’s make a grand entrance to the ball!

Step 4: Transition Out

You’ve made it to the final step. Time to wrap it up with a smooth exit. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Select the Mask Layer.
  2. Press Command + D to duplicate the layer.
  3. Slide the keyframes to where you want the transition out on your Timeline.
  4. Change the Mode from Add to Subtract.

And just like that, it’s over…

There you have it! You’ve learned how to create a captivating halftone effect in After Effects using the CC Ball effect and added a transition to take it to the next level. Now it’s time to unleash your creativity and incorporate the halftone effect into your future video projects! ProgramMatek is your go-to source for all things related to After Effects. Happy creating!

How to Create a Halftone Effect in After Effects