How To Create a Stipple Illustration Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Hello everyone this is Chris from Spoon Graphics
back with another video tutorial. Today I’m going to show you a technique I
come up with to replicate those intricate stippled illustrations that are made out of
thousands of tiny dots, but without the tedious process of dabbing each dot with a pen. When it comes to traditional art styles like
this, the best results are always achieved by painstakingly working by hand for hours
on end, but I think this digital effect actually looks pretty authentic. We’ll create a series of patterns which will
help us fill out the spread of dots much faster, then use some simple filters to apply the
stippling to an image. So first we need to create our stipple patterns
to save us from manually placing them one at a time. Open Adobe Photoshop and create a new document
at 500x500px. Add a new layer, then go to Edit>Fill. Change the drop down menu to white. Next, go to Filter>Filter Gallery. Navigate to Textures>Grain, then change
the Grain Type to Stippled. Alter the intensity to 51. This grain effect has created a nice spread
of stipples, but they’re really small at just one pixel in size. Go to Edit>Transform>Scale, then enter
200% in the Width and Height boxes in the top toolbar. Scaling up the artwork helps soften those
hard square pixels, making them larger circular dots that look much more like they’re made
with a pen. Add another new layer and go to Edit>Fill. Go to Filter>Filter Gallery again, making
sure you select the menu option further down the list, not the one at the top which would
repeat the last effect settings. Increase the Intensity setting to 61 to increase
the density of the spread of dots. Transform and scale this layer up by 200%. Repeat the process with another new layer. You can speed up the process by incorporating
some keyboard shortcuts. Use the CMD (or CTRL on Windows) and Backspace
key to quickly fill the layer with white. Add the Grain effect again from the Filter
Gallery, increasing the Intensity by another 10px, making it 71. Use the CMD+T shortcut to Transform and enter
the 200% figures in the toolbar. Repeat the process of creating a new layer
and increasing the grain intensity until you get to 100, remembering to scale up the layer
by 200% each time. We’ve run out of settings available in the
Grain filter, but we can round off this series of patterns to 10 by duplicating the last
layer. Press the CMD+J shortcut 4 times. Shift and click the first layer to select
all 10 pattern layers, then change the blending mode to Multiply. This will render the white background transparent
so each pattern layer builds upon the last. Select just the top layer, then press CMD+T.
Click and drag with the mouse to move the layer in a random direction to offset the
dots. Select the next layer down and do the same,
shifting this layer in a different direction to mix up the dots so they don’t perfectly
overlap. Once all the layers are randomly positioned,
toggle the visibility of each layer in turn to see the pattern density gradually decrease. With just the first layer visible, go to Edit
>Define Pattern. Give it a name of Stipple-1. It’s a good idea to copy the word Stipple
to save you from typing it another 10 times. Toggle on the visibility of the next layer
and go to Edit>Define Pattern. Call this one Stipple 2. Repeat the process with the remaining 8 layers,
until you have a collection of 10 stipple patterns. This part of the tutorial was pretty repetitive,
but at least you now have a collection of patterns you can use for all your future stippling. You can skip straight to the fun bit next
time! Next we need an image to apply the stippling
effect to. I’m using this portrait photo from Unsplash
as my example. Open your image in Adobe Photoshop. This particular image is 3000px, which is
a little large for the size of dots we’ve made, so I’m scaling it down to 2000px. If you need larger or smaller stippling for
your projects, just use a figure larger or smaller than 200% when resizing the grain
pattern. Drag the background layer onto the new layer
icon to make a duplicate, then add a black and white adjustment layer and a Posterize
adjustment layer. Select that background copy layer we just
made, then go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Adjust the value to around 3-4px, enough to
smooth out the Posterizing effect outlines without losing too much of the details. Head back to the Posterize adjustment layer
and change the number of levels. Since we’ve made 10 lots of stipple patterns,
we might as well go for 10 levels, but you can achieve simpler looking results with less
levels. Add a new layer, then select the Magic Wand
tool. Change the settings in the top toolbar to
0 Tolerance, then deselect Anti-Alias and Contiguous, but make sure Sample All Layers
is enabled. Starting with the lightest tone, click with
the Magic Wand to load its selection, then go to Edit>Fill. Change the drop down menu to Pattern and select
the lightest dot pattern. Click the next lightest tone and fill it with
the next dot pattern and so on. Incorporate the Shift and F5 shortcut to quickly
bring up the Fill dialogue box. Select each posterize level and fill it with
gradually darker dot patterns to see the image transform into a stipple illustration. When you get to the darkest tones, you might
have to temporarily turn off the layer visibility to accurately make a selection, otherwise
it tries to sample the existing dots too. Once all the levels have been filled, you
have an intricate stippled illustration effect that looks really quite authentic. The enlargement of those original pixels made
them more then size of a pen nib, and the resulting blurriness from resizing helped
soften them into little circles. Then applying the dots via pattern fills was
a much faster process than manually dabbing each one by hand with pen and paper! So I hope this effect comes in handy in your
future projects. If you enjoyed the tutorial or learnt anything
new don’t forget to Subscribe to stick around for more. Big thanks to Squarespace for helping out
by sponsoring this video, don’t forget you can get 10% off your first order with the
code SPOONER. So as always thank you very much for watching,
and I’ll see you in the next one!


  • Nikola Seke

    Stippling for me is relaxing and when I see what I did at the and it's so satisfying.

  • Barbré

    Holy Smokes! Amazing tutorial +1 Definitely gonna try this out. Keep up the good work!

  • Iluviel

    That looks so…. satisfying 😍 I'm gonna give it a try, thanks! Here, have my like!

  • breathingtokyo

    This is one of the most unique tutorials I've seen on youtube, many thanks!

  • LiveBig7

    simple but very useful, thank you again for making videos.

  • Duncan Hurst

    Thank you again for a very straight forward and easy to follow video.

  • Amol Impal

    thank you for such a useful tutorial 👌👌

  • Sabir Ali

    Thank you Chris one more amazing tutorial i learn some new Technic god bless you and keep posting amazing tutorial.

  • Ric

    What an awesome tutorial. Thank you for the inspiration.

  • moreorlesslikeso

    At first I thought: Why on earth don't you use just Photoshop's Bitmap conversion? This gives sort of similar results when choosing a suitable resolution. But then you get perfect square shaped stipples and you have little to no control over how certain tones get translated into those stipples…
    So this is really an interesting way to do it. It relates, I think – in a way – to your tutorial about giving photos that "engraving lines" effect. Last but not least I guess you could actually produce even more rounded stipples if you modified the process of generating those patterns a bit – e.g. by raising the patterns' resolution first, then applying a blur, then adjusting the levels to make them look sharper (and rounder) again and finally reduce the patterns' resolution again to what it has been before. At least this technique works quite well when smoothing lo-res jagged looking line art a bit.

  • Quincy Batts

    Love this video. Was looking for weeks for my company to find an adequate filter to do this with doing it digitally by hand. Will join your "club" for now on. I do have a couple of questions: can you make an action or preset outta this? Can you do the same thing with programs like Affinity Photo and GIMP?

  • Nick

    Why did you/he make the pattern 500×500 pixels?

  • kelvin chen


  • Lee Mylks

    quite honestly one of the 'best value' of any YouTube Tutorial I've ever seen. It's right to the point – so to speak.

    No joke tho – really nice, neat, compact, quick-to-learn Techie Tut, to pull off this useful and artistic effect. As far as these vids go, I think it's the best I've ever seen. GJ & Thx!!!

  • Lyle Stavast

    Nicely done. 🙂

  • KLSeba

    How do I adjust the stipple to larger dots when I work on higher resolution? One I do 1000×100 or 150/300 dpi, they become super tiny and plenty of it.

  • Spoon Graphics

    Join my mailing list at Spoon Graphics if you want to keep up with all my other content. Every subscriber gets a FREE design resources bundle! 📦

  • Netim Ferreira

    Very good!! Show!

  • selfless

    Awesome tut but… when I try to add stipple effect for the first pattern filter gallery option is greyed out, can't select it… ?

  • Gaston Gaston


  • irena hurina

    Thank you VERY much!

  • qaannat


  • Arthur Mill

    Commad J on mac
    CTRL J on windownds 😉

  • Arthur Mill

    one of the best guides thank you !!!!!

  • Sky High Productions

    Make sure your default colours are set to black and white or it won't work right

  • Tarek Larine

    This is smart 🙂

  • soumyajit choudhury

    can anybody please do it for me?? plz plz

  • Андрей Сорогин

    so much thanks man, you really help me

  • Kevin Branaghan

    first layer keeps turning grey with white stipples. why does this happen?

  • Nicolas Martin

    Nothing like the style and quality of real stippling. See Wall Street Journal.

  • Anthony Candelario

    If I wanted to do this with color instead of black and white, what would be the best approach ?

  • not a fox

    your accent is so amusing

  • not a fox

    holy shit

  • nanaklysm18

    Excelent thank you!!!


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