How to Make Screen Tones by Pencil

Written by f.r.r. mallory
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How to Make Screen Tones by Pencil
Drawing cartoons often includes adding screentones to the drawings. (Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Screentones are line tone sheets that create shading effects on line drawings such as for manga, cartoons or super hero-type posters. A screentone sheet is composed of an arrangement of dots or lines in a precise relationship to each other. In conventional graphic design, the sheet has a wax adhesive backing and it is cut with an artist knife and rubbed into position. Using computer programs the sheet is applied to an area defined by a composition tool like a magic wand tool. The size of the dot and how close it is to the next dot change the appearance of the effect. To create a screentone from pencil marks is not difficult with the right equipment.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Artwork
  • Tape
  • Screentone sheet (rubdown type)
  • Screentone sheet (cut type)
  • Burnishing tool
  • Artist knife
  • Tweezers
  • Drawing paper
  • Pencils (variety)
  • Scanner
  • Art software

Show MoreHide


    How To Rub Down Screentone

  1. 1

    Tape down the artwork to the drawing table. There are two types of manual screentone: the first type is a rubdown sheet much like a decal, the second type is a cut and rub type.

  2. 2

    Place the rubdown sheet (dark side down) over the artwork in the area where you want to apply tone. The plastic of the sheet is designed to allow you to rub the printed tone off. Position a soft-leaded pencil or burnishing tool over the area you want to transfer.

  3. 3

    Rub across the screen area evenly. Usually you can see the dots or lines transferring and the plastic will become empty. Often the plastic will distort with this type of process and the alignment of the tone may not be completely even.

  4. 4

    Apply the cut type screentone by placing the sheet dark side up over the artwork. Cut around the area you want to screen. Often there are dark solid lines on either side. Lift the cut screen off the plastic and position it on the art. Use the flat side of a burnishing tool to gently rub the screentone into good contact with the art.

    How To Make Pencil Screentone

  1. 1

    Tape drawing paper down on the table. Apply pencil to the drawing paper in the style and tone that you want. Try many different graphite and charcoal pencils to produce the tone darkness and quality that you want.

  2. 2

    Scan the pencil tones into the computer with a scanner. Open the images with your art software program.

  3. 3

    Select the size of screen, halftone, line or other graphic filter you want to create a screentone effect. The screen you use will break up your original image into a size of dot or thickness of line. This creates the tone effect. Save your pencil screentones and use them with your brush or fill feature in your art program. The program will render the pencil in the areas of your drawings that you select.

Tips and warnings

  • Screentones can be made of all kinds of textures and can be interesting to use in dress and costume design as well as other types of applications.

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