Photoshop Tone Shapes Tutorial

Ever wondered how I got those effects for some of the brushes I make?
Well, here's the process I've used in as shown in Photoshop CS5.

The files shown in these screenshots were created at 300DPI. Click to see a larger version of the images.

For Dithered Patterns:

  1. Place some shapes on a transparent layer, as shown here:
    A screenshot of Photoshop showing three shapes inside.

  2. Next, we apply the desired layer effect.
    In this case, we want to start off with an Outer Glow, with the Blend Mode set to "Dissolve".
    A screenshot of Photoshop with the layer effects menu open.
    • If you're going to have overlapping shapes on separate layers, you may want to consider using a combination of layers and effects to change the appearance.
    • Examples:
      Two overlapping circles, with no border between them.
      No additional layers or effects or added to either circle.
      Two overlapping circles, with a dithered border inside the larger one.
      The first circle was duplicated, its fill opacity set to 0%, with an added Inner Glow effect (where the blend mode set to "Dissolve").
      Two overlapping circles, both with a dithered border inside.
      Both shapes have been duplicated, with 0% fill opacity, and Inner Glows on each.

  3. Finally, we flatten the layers!
    Once you flatten your chosen layers, you can define it as a brush, make it transparent, whatever.
    Usually, I convert to bitmap and back to Greyscale before making brushes.

    A comparison of the shapes before and after the final merge.
    Not to mention, things usually look a lot nicer zoomed out when you merge your layers.

For Tone Patterns:

  1. We start out much the same as previously, but instead of using the "Dissolve" blend mode on the glow, we just set it to "Normal". The Layer Style window in Photoshop CS5, with various settings.

  2. After that, we change the image mode to Bitmap, under "Image" -> "Mode" -> "Bitmap". You may need to first change your image mode to Grayscale.
    Since this is supposed to be a tone effect, "Halftone Screen" will suffice for the method. You'll see some other settings after this -- play around and see what you like!
    Image Menu in Photoshop CS5 is displayed
    *Note: Adjust the resolution settings to match what you need it to be output as! I find Bitmap mode works BEST with high resolution images!

  3. That's it! You have your tone results!
    Tone Bubbles
    You might want to consider going back to greyscale mode if you need layers, transparency, and other features.

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