As I mentioned on the weekend, I saw a photoshop tutorial for halftone text. I thought it was kind of cool… retro. So I decided to try it out in GIMP (v2.4). It’s really simple!
Create a new file with a white background (usually the default). Mine was 500×300, but you can make it any size you want.
Write your text
Select the text tool and type your word into the middle of the image. The text is automatically put in a new layer. Duplicate that layer and toggle the visibility (the eye button) so that it’s hidden.
Create the ‘halftone’ dots
Choose the original text layer and go to Layer > Layer to Image Size.
Then go to Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur… I used a blur radius of about 80 pixels to completely blur the shapes of the letters, I guess this value will depend on your image size.
The gaussian blur makes the blurry layer a bit too light. I tried two methods to fix this: darkening with levels and duplicating the layer. I thought duplicating the layer was a bit more effective, so I duplicated the layer about 7 times and then merged all of those blurry layers down to the background.
Change the image mode to grayscale (Image > Mode > Grayscale). Then go to Filters > Distorts > Newsprint.
I used mainly default settings for the Newsprint effect. The main things to play with are Cell size (changes the size of the dots), Angle (changes the direction the dots radiate), and Oversample (a higher value produces smoother, rounder dots).
Add text back in
Now choose the hidden text duplicate you made. Make the layer visible and invert the colours (Colors > Invert).
That should be it! You can make the final text a bit bigger or smaller if you want to.
Halftone around objects
This technique can also be used with objects using a few methods.
One is to create a drop shadow (Filters > Light and Shadow > Drop Shadow) with no x- and y-offset and a large blur radius (e.g. 80). You may want to duplicate the layer to darken it, as before.
Another method is to create a selection around the object and expand it (Select > Grow) I found 30 pixels reasonable. Then within the selection, on the background layer, apply a black-white blend with the Shaped (spherical) shape setting.
Yet another way is to duplicate the object and use brightness/contrast to make the object all black. Then apply a gaussian blur.
Good luck making some retro pics! Please ask questions, leave comments, make tutorial requests. 🙂