How to Do Ben-Day Dots

Written by andrea crist
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How to Do Ben-Day Dots
Clustered Ben-Day dots give a sense of shadow and depth, while dots spread apart lend to white space that suggest a brighter tone. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Ben-Day dots were popularised by artist Roy Lichtenstein in the 1960s, but it was originally developed by Benjamin Henry Day Jr. as a printing method for newspapers and magazines. The result of this process yields a field of different sized dots layered upon one another. The size of the dots and the spaces between them create shadow and light within a picture. This result can be simulated in Photoshop using photographs or black-and-white shaded drawings.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Photoshop

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  1. 1

    Upload a picture into Photoshop by clicking 'File' and then 'Import.' Select an image that has high contrast so that the Ben-Day dots will maintain detail after the process is finished.

  2. 2

    Locate the 'Layer' window in the lower right-hand side of the screen. Duplicate the 'Background' layer by clicking it and dragging it down to the 'New Layer' icon in the bottom of the window. The 'New Layer' icon looks like a page with the lower left-hand corner creased.

  3. 3

    Highlight the new layer and hold down Ctrl, Shift and 'U' to desaturate the layer. This will render the image in greyscale. Adjust the contrast of the image by selecting 'Image' from the task bar, then click 'Adjustments' and 'Threshold.' Slide the triangle along the bar to increase the contrast of the image to black and white.

  4. 4

    Apply the Gaussian Blur by clicking 'Filter,' then 'Blur' and choose 'Gaussian Blur.' In the 'Pixel Radius' box, change the number to 2 or 3 to rid your image of the harsh, square pixels.

  5. 5

    Locate the Layer Palette and right-click on the new layer. Select 'Duplicate Layer.' Select 'New' when the Destination Document box pops up. On the new document, select 'Image' from the task bar, then 'Mode' and 'Greyscale.' When the 'Discard colour information?' dialogue box appears, select OK.

  6. 6

    Select 'Image,' then 'Mode' and 'Bitmap.' When the 'Flatten layers?' dialogue box appears, click OK. When the Bitmap box appears, select 'Halftone Screen' from the drop-down menu and click OK. Experiment with the number in the Frequency section to change the size of the dots to your liking.

Tips and warnings

  • If the dots do not appear to your liking, enhance the Gaussian blur to smooth out the gradient of the image.

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